Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/William Wright

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Born at York, 1562; died 18 Jan., 1639. Though he came late (23) to his studies, he then made such good progress that he was many years professor of philosophy at Gratz and Vienna. Coming to help the English Mission in the great troubles that followed the Powder Plot, he became chaplain to the Gages at Hengrave Hall, Suffolk. But he was soon arrested and thrown into the Tower (July, 1607), and later into the White Lion Prison. This was the opportunity of his life. The Catholics had been discouraged by the fall of the archpriest Blackwell, who had taken, and publicly commended, the condemned oath of allegiance (see OATHS, ENGLISH POST-REFORMATION, II); Wright's brother Thomas, an ex-Jesuit and a brilliant scholar, supported him (see bibliography). William Wright disputed publicly against the oath with great vigour and effect; and the Gages, whom he had instructed, courageously refused to take it. Wright's fine qualities drew to him many converts. When the dreaded "plague" ravaged London and attacked the prison, he nursed the sick, buried the dead, and remained almost the only person untouched. In the confusion which followed this visitation he escaped to Leicestershire, where he organized a series of missions, which remained as he left them for many generations. From 1612 onwards he took to writing, and some twelve small volumes are ascribed to him: three of controversy, the rest translations of the works of Becan, Lessius, etc.

FOLEY, Records of the English Province S. J., II, 275-86, VII, 871; COOPER in Dict. Nat. Biog., s. v.; GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Engl, Cath., s. v.; SOMMERVOGEL, Bibl. de la C. de Jesus. For Thomas Wright, see: FOLEY, Records, VII, 1460; JESSOP, Letters of H. Walpole (1873), 55; Calendars of State Papers Domestic (1596-).

J.H. POLLEN