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Ask Joan
Joan Leach is a local historian, a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, a founder of The Gaskell Society, and much more besides.

Dear Joan,

As prompted by the Knutsford website, I'm emailing to tap into your local knowledge if I may. I have reference to the Wright family of Nether Knutsford(circa 1810-1820)
1. Strethill Wright - the elder & the younger
2. Thomas Wright - a relative (?brother/Uncle) of the above

They are listed as Gentlemen of Knutsford, but I also understand they were solicitiors/lawyers.
Thomas Wright was married to Mary Higginson of Peover.
Strethill Wright was married to Hannah Higinson of Peover.

The Higginson family were related by marriage to the Pickford family (of the famous removals company) and had a financial interest in the Company.

I'm also interested in a Richard Hancock of Knutsford-Gent.(married to Martha Higginson of Peover) who died before 1820.

I'd appreciate any light you could shed on the Wright family of Knutsford in particular. With the first name of Strethill - they surely can't have been overlooked in the history annuls of Knutsford!

Thanks (in anticipation) Denise Simpkins, Researching Pickfords in Cheshire 1600

Joan answers:

The Wright Family of Knutsford

I have been asked for information about Strethill Wright who lived in Knutsford and the origin of the unusual surname. Strethill was a village, or more probably a settlement, in the Mere/ Rostherne area meaning Street Hill, from its proximity to Watling Street, the Roman Road which is now the A556. The Swan Hotel still has a Roman milestone set into its wall.

Wright graves in Knutsford Parish Church yard reveal much family history:

Here lies the body of Anne Wright daughter of Richard and Jane Hancock and wife of Strethill Wright of Nether Knutsford, Gentleman, fourth son of Samuel and Ann Wright, died 24 July 1814 aged 46.

(A second wife, in the same grave died, at the age of 71 in 1855)

Here also lieth the above named Srethill Wright. He died the fifth of August AD1825 in the 70th year of his age.

Hannah Higginson must have been Strethill's second wife - nearlt thirty years younger than him by my reckoning! His first wife was the daughter of the Landlord of The Royal George, known as The George and Dragon at that time, a busy place with The Assembly rooms and mail coaches.

Other Wright graves are of Strethill's parents and siblings. Father Samuel Wright, who died in 1791, left Ann (nee Pennee) his wife with six sons, five daughters and seven grandchildren. Inscribed on his grave is the tribute:

"He was a great promoter in the building of this church, consecrated 24 July 1744"

Afterwards frequently declared this having been such of one of the happy events of his life. He was the attorney who did all the paper work for the building and his son Strethill followed him in the business.

A third Wright graves lists the family of eldest son, Samuel who had three sons killed, before reaching the age of 21, fighting for the British Empire: one at the battle of New Orleans. Strethill, too, had a military career leading, as major, the Knutsford Volunteer infantry attached to the Cheshire Yeomanry.

A local historian in the early 1900's recalls him being:

"The foremost volunteer in the district, and, helped by a splendid spirit of cheerfulness and good humour, had gained many friends. Riding on horseback at the head of his corps he looked the picture of veteran, for while very young he had the misfortune to lose an arm."

In 1814 the Volunteers, whose patriotism had run so high as to provide everything at their own expense, received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament, and Major Wright presented to each member of the corps a printed copy of the resolution:- "Every man has done his duty"

Sadly I believe Strethill went bankrupt. I thought it might have been another member of the family, Strethill Henry Wright ( died 1881) Thomas Strethill Wright FRCPE had a distinguished medical career in Edinburgh but is buried in Knutsford.

Joan Leach 13.5.02