Wright, William (1563-1639) (DNB00)

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WRIGHT, WILLIAM (1563–1639), jesuit, son of John Wright, an apothecary of York, was born there in 1563, and went to school in his native city until he was about twenty years old, when his uncle, a priest, sent him to France. After a brief sojourn at Rheims he proceeded to Rome, where he entered the English College for his higher course on 18 Oct. 1581. He was admitted to the Society of Jesus at St. Andrew's novitiate, Rome, on 8 Dec. in the same year, and was professed of the four vows on 23 July 1602. For many years he was professor of philosophy and theology in the colleges of the society at Gratz in Styria, where he graduated D.D., and at Vienna.

He was sent to the English mission in 1606, and was seized soon afterwards at Hengrave Hall, Suffolk, the seat of the Gage family, taken before Dr. Bancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, at Lambeth, and committed by that prelate in 1607 to the Tower of London, whence he was transferred to the White Lion prison. He ultimately effected his escape by the aid of friends, and retired into Leicestershire, where he founded the missions of the society originally called the Residence of St. Anne, and in 1633 incorporated into the Derby and Nottingham district. He was rector of the ‘college’ until about 1636, when he became minister. He died in the same district on 18 Jan. 1638–9.

Wright was a vehement opponent of the oath of allegiance and supremacy devised by the government of James I, and solemnly condemned by the holy see. His works, which were published under various initials, are as follows:

  1. ‘The English Iarre. Or Disagreement amongst the Ministers of great Brittaine, concerning the Kinges Supremacy. Written in Latin [by Martin Becanus] and translated into English by I. W. P.,’ [St. Omer], 1612, 4to.
  2. ‘A Discoverie of certaine notorious shifts, evasions, and untruthes uttered by Mr. J. White, Minister, in a booke of his lately set forth, and intituled A defence of the Way … in manner of a Dialogue. … By W. G., Professor in Divinity,’ St. Omer, 1613, 4to; 2nd edit. 1619 [see White, John, 1570–1615].
  3. ‘A Summary of Controversies: where in are briefly treated the cheefe Questions of Divinity now a dayes in dispute betweene Catholikes and Protestants … [written in Latin by James Gordon]. Translated into English by I.,’ vol. i. [St. Omer?], 1614, 8vo; 2nd edit. 1618. No more appears to have been published.
  4. ‘A Treatise concerning the Church. Wherein it is shewed … that the Church of Rome … is the only true Church of Christ. Written in Latin by … J. Gordon Huntly … and translated into English by J. L.’ [St. Omer?], 1614, 8vo.
  5. ‘A Treatise of the Church. In which is proued M. Iohn White his Way to the True Church to be indeed no way at all to any Church true or false. … Written by W. G. Professour in Divinity, in manner of Dialogue,’ sine loco, 1616, 4to.
  6. ‘A Consultation what Faith and Religion is best to be embraced. Written in Latin [by Leonardus Lessius] and translated into English by W. I. (An Appendix to the former Consultation. Whether every one may be saved in his owne fayth and religion),’ [St. Omer?], 1618, 16mo.
  7. ‘A Treatise of the Iudge of Controversies,’ [St. Omer], 1619, 12mo; translated from the Latin of Martin Becanus ‘by W. W., Gent.’
  8. ‘A briefe relation of the Persecvtion lately made against the Catholike Christians, in the Kingdome of Iaponia. … Taken out of the Annuall Letters of the Fathers of the Society of Iesvs,’ pt. i., all published, sine loco, 1619, translated from the Spanish ‘by W. W., Gent.’
  9. ‘The Treasure of vowed Chastity in secular Persons. Also the Widdowes Glasse [by Leonardus Lessius]. Translated into English by I. W.,’ [St. Omer?], 1621, 24mo.
  10. ‘A Letter to a Person of Honour, concerning the evil Spirit of Protestants,’ 1622, 4to.
  11. ‘A Treatise against N. E. a Minister of the Church of England,’ St. Omer, 1622, 4to. Southwell says this treatise is ‘De Spiritibus.’ It is subscribed ‘W. G.’
  12. ‘A briefe treatise in which is made playne, that Catholikes living and dying in their profession may be saved, by the judgment of the most famous and learned Protestants. … Agaynst a Minister [N. E.] who in his Epistle exhorteth an honourable person to forsake her Religion,’ [St. Omer], 1623, 4to.
  13. ‘A Treatise of Penance,’ often reprinted. This may be the work which appeared at St. Omer in 1633 under the pseudonym of ‘Douley,’ and which has been ascribed to Father William Warford [q. v.] or Warneford.
  14. Bartoli mentions a treatise written in a week, against the Archpriest George Blackwell [q. v.], which caused an extraordinary sensation in the public mind, on the question of the oath of allegiance (Dell' Inghilterra, pp. 631–5).

[De Backer's Bibl. des Écrivains de la Compagnie de Jésus; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 136, iii. 114; More's Hist. Missionis Anglicanæ Soc. {{smaller block|Jesu, pp. 363–6; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ix. 38; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 229; Southwell's Bibl. Scriptorum Soc. Jesu; Law's Archpriest Controversy, 1898 (Camden Soc.).]

T. C.