Spencer/Washington/Wright Connection


by Charles Arthur Hoffin

"Mr. Francis Wright," gentleman, captain, major, surveyor, attorney, sheriff, and justice of Westmoreland County, is abundantly of record as having increased the excellence of the social position and material independence of his father, Captain Richard Wright, whose will was proved December 10, 1663 {Northumberland Record Book, 1658-1666, page 114}. The many records indicate that his intellectual activities were of a professional rather than a mercantile nature, as at no time is he recorded as a merchant though he was a ship-owner. As the third child in his father's will he may not have been the oldest, but he received the largest and most valuable part of the real estate. If the youngest child he could not have been aged above two years at his father's death, about December 1, 1663, nor more than five years if the eldest son. Although he may have gone in 1665 with his mother to the home, in Lancaster county, of her second husband, the estimable David Fox, Sr., Gent., and even have remained with her awhile after her third marriage to Col. St. Leger Codd of Lancaster and Northumberland counties, a strict compliance with the terms of his father's will would have required him to remain under the control of that eminent gentleman, his uncle Col. Nicholas Spencer. That it was to the influence of Spencer that Francis Wright received, either in England or by a private tutor in Virginia, his excellent education one scarcely can doubt, for that worthy scion of the English Spencers of Cople, Bedfordshire, England, for whom a half of Westmoreland, Virginia, was named Cople parish, was a second father to his brother-in-law Wright's children. A review of the life of Francis Wright gives the impression that he went to England on one of Spencer's journeys hither, and there acquired, with the aid of funds on deposit there which his father had bequeathed to him, some of the Anglicisms that attach to some of the Virginian records of his own composition. About everything that he did in Virginia was in an aristocratic manner, and his guardian Nicholas Spencer was one of the first among Virginian gentlemen. Spencer "occupied the important post of Secretary of the Colony between 1679 and 1689, and on the maternal side was the grandson of Sir Edward Gostwick of Wellington, England, and also related to the family in possession of the barony of Culpeper. His mother was Lady Mary Armiger. He continued to own property in England long after he had been in possession of a large estate in Virginia." And he died in England derived from the same line as the famous Spencers, earls of Northammpton, allied by marriage to the Washingtons of Sulgrave.

Estimated by the evidence as to his father's marriage and will, and that there were three children born in six years preceding the making of the will on August 19, 1663, Francis Wright was born between 1658 and 1661 at his father's house, formerly Col. John Mottrom's at Coan, Northumberland. It is impossible to determine the order of birth of the three children of Richard and Ann (Mottrom) Wright, Mottrom, Francis and Ann. That these children were living in the Nomini-Machodoc region of Cople parish, Westmoreland, under the guardianship of their uncle and aunt, Col. Nicholas and Frances (Mottrom) Spencer, after they had received an education, if not before then, is to be believed, since Ann is of record there in 1677; and Francis and Mottrom entered upon their inherited lands before they were twenty-one years of age, both sons marrying when quite young. On July 15, 1677, "Ann Wright" signed her name as witness to a letter of attorney by her aunt, "Madam ffrances Spencer in Nomini of ye County of Westmerld wife to Nicholas Spencer Esqr.," to "Mr. James Gaylard." {Westmoreland Deeds, Patents, Accounts, Depositions from 1665 to 1677, folio 325 d.} Spencer became President of the County of Virginia, and as secretary of the colony was second in rank only to the governor.

Francis Wright, Gent., lived his thirty-five years after becoming of nominal legal age (then eighteen, though taxable at sixteen) in Westmoreland, upon his inherited estate of fourteen hundred acres fronting upon the Potomac and flanked by Nomini bay and Lower Machodoc river. Nothing strenuous is of record as to his career; he was active, influential and comfortable, always appearing in the records as a man who upheld the prestige of his caste and insisted upon his rights; but, as to his service in official positions, he has left evidence of that consideration for others less fortunate than himself which characterizes a true gentleman. Like his father, he was held in such esteem as to have been chosen a justice of the county when he could not have been aged more than twenty-four and, as likely, not over twenty-two; in fact, the second oldest extant record of him in Westmoreland is that of the recording of his commission as His Majesty's Justice. That he was educated for the law is apparent. The first record of Francis Wright, Gent., in Westmoreland reveals him as settled upon the aforesaid estate and as having circumscribed his domain in a way requiring modifications:

{Westmoreland Order Book 1675-6 to 1688-9, page 258}
(Court of July 16, 1682.) "Tho: Youle vs Francis Wright,
Refer'd because if Maj'r. Youle be removed from being presi-
dent of ye Co'rt none of other of ye Quorum are pres't"...
{Page 263}. "Sept 26, 1682. Thomas Youle vs. Francis
Wright. Upon Complaint of Thomas Youle Settinge forth
that Francis Wright hath forceably intruded into his Lands
and detains them from him, And Tho: George, attorney to
the Defend't replies that the Declaracon is insufficient because
it specifies not the force; but by consent of both parties, noe
advantage beinge taken of pr'sentinge ye reply, The Co'rt
pr'ceed and Or'dr That on the twentieth of October next both
parties to meete on the plantacon and that a Survey bee
made of the Lands conteined in the Pattents, by Mr. Robert
Chamberlaine and Mr. William Horton, or in his absence by
Mr. Jn'o Henry Surveyo'r chosen by both parties, and that there
be a sufficient iury (jury) of ye neighborhood retain'd and sworne
by the next Justice of the peace, who shal Lay out the Lands
according to the Pattents."
{Page 270}. "Court of Jan. 3, 1682-3. Tho: Youle vs
Francis Wright. The Cort Ordr that the Sheriff of this
County doe forthwith put ye sd Tho: Youle into ye actual
possession of his sd Lands holden from him by ye sd Francis
Wright. From which judgmt the sd. Francis Wright ap-
peales to the third day of the next Gen'l Co'rt: and Mr.
Lawrence Washington assumed Security for ye sd Wright."

The appeal does not appear, by the records of the Assembly or House of Burgesses of Virginia, to have been actually presented before the highest colonial court for action during the year 1683. "Mr. Lawrence Washington," at the date of appear, was the brother-in-law of Francis Wright, Gent., who had married Anne Washington a year or two before 1682. The exact date of the marriage is not recorded, but the fact that her son, John Wright, became aged twenty-one in or before 1704 fixes the marriage date approximately. Anne Washington was named as unmarried in her father Col. JohnWashington's will dated 21 September 1675; he died in 1677, between August 14 and September 26; Anne is not specified in that year, in the settlement of the estate, as being then married. Without detailing, at this moment, the various reflections which hedge in the marriage date approximately, they may be said to confine the period to 1679-82, when Francis Wright was aged between twenty and twenty-three, while she could not have been older, as her father Col. John Washington's letter to Josias Fendall, governor of Maryland, dated 30 September 1659, shows that Lawrence, his first child in America, was born shortly previous to that date. {Records of the Provinciall Court For this Province of Maryland Beginning the five & Twentieth of March Ano Dni 1658, No. 1, liber 3, page 297.} It has been supposed that the "Ann Wright" who signed her name as a witness to Madam Spencer's letter of attorney on July 25, 1677, as foresaid, might have been Ann (Washington) Wright; but the latter could not possibly have been aged over seventeen on that date, and her home was on Pope's creek, twenty miles from Nomini; whereas Ann Wright, sister of Francis Wright, easily could have been then older and a legal witness, while her presence at Nomini is explained by her then being a ward of Col. and Madam Spencer. Anne (Washington) Wright's mother, Ann (Pope) Washington, daughter of Lt. Col. Nathanial Pope, died more than six years previous to the writing of her husband Col. John Washington's will, dated September 21, 1675, as the now well-known fact of Col. Washington's second and third marriages proves, his first marriage having been in the winter of 1658, to the said Ann Pope, as more at large appears hereinafter. Several deeds prove the marriage of Francis Wright, Gent., to Anne, daughter of Col. John and Ann (Pope) Washington, notably one in the Richard County, Virginia, court Order Book No. 4 1692 to 1709, at Warsaw, entered at the session of February 4, 1907(?), to wit: "The Jury finds that Col. John Washington being seized of 1,400 acres of land in Rappahannock County by his last will gave the same to Anne, his daughter, who married Francis Wright, Gent., by whom he had a son John."


*Ann Wright, daughter of Capt. Richard and Ann (Mottrom ) Wright married George Nicholas Hacke, born in Accomac county, Virginia, son of Dr. George Hacke, born at Cologne, Germany, 1623, and his wife Anna, daughter of Augustine Herman, "founder and lord of the great manor of Bohemia, extending from Chesapeake bay (in Cecil county, Maryland) across Delaware to the Delaware river."

*I neglected to get the reference of this information.

Mottrom Wright, died without issue.