As I continue to research my sixth great grandfather, Gabriel Wright (http://danstone.info/g2/p2664.htm), whenever I come across another researcher’s family tree which includes his parents, they almost invariably are recorded as being James Wright (sometimes attributed as being the son of Richard Wright) and Isobel Kenmore. Likewise, in most trees, Gabriel is recorded as being born 8 September 1743 in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire [Scottish Borders], Scotland (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jedburgh). What I have yet to come across, however, is source information for either Gabriel’s parents or his birth information. In my own tree, I have used this birth information in the hopes of having other researchers find my blog or website, but I have also made sure to note that this birth date and place are under further research and still need to be proven.
I have not found any documents which record Gabriel’s specific birth date. The origin of Gabriel having been born in Scotland seems to be the book, Four Revolutionary Soldiers And Their Descendants, Alexander Sleeth, Gabriel Wright, David Smith, John Hacker (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/181327189), by Eloise M. Roberts, published in 1924. It states on page 9, “I have estimated that Gabriel Wright was born in Scotland prior to 1747, but have no proof of this.” This is the same book which seems to be the origin of the legend of Gabriel Wright’s ancestor having been the leader of Clan MacGregor in Scotland, a legend which I have found to be more and more suspect as I’ve continued to examine it (http://wp.me/p3HOBY-c0 and http://wp.me/p3HOBY-q), so I don’t put a high degree of credibility into this birth information. To her credit, however, Mrs. Roberts clearly states she has no proof for her estimation of Gabriel’s birthdate and birthplace.
Prior to Mrs. Roberts’ book, I’ve found there were at least two accounts written of the family of Gabriel Wright. The first was in the book, Pioneer Record, and Reminiscences, of the Early Settlers, and Settlement of Fayette County, Ohio (http://books.google.com/books?id=1VMVAAAAYAAJ), by Rufus Putnam, published in 1872. The other was a manuscript written by Reverend Fred N. Wright prior to 15 October 1906. It was never officially published, but has been preserved in two different versions. One version was retyped for preservation in 1997 by Phyllis Mary Heiss, Genealogist of the Wright Information Center. This version is titled The Family of Gabriel Wright (https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/680256). The other version is titled History Of The Wrights And Their Connections : being a record of Gabriel Wright and his issue and their posterity, particularly through the lineage of David Wright Sr.; including many of the more distand [sic] relatives, and giving the post offices of the living (https://familysearch.org/search/catalog/139160), and appears to be a scanned copy of Reverend Wright’s original typewritten pages. These two versions are not identical copies of each other, with the History Of The Wrights And Their Connections containing a fairly extensive Gabriel Wright descendancy chart, for example, while The Family of Gabriel Wright incorporates the text of handwritten notes from the margins of the original manuscript into it’s reworking.
The profile of the Wright family contained in Pioneer Record, and Reminiscences, of the Early Settlers, and Settlement of Fayette County, Ohio, is on pages 56 through 58. Reading through these pages, I have found no mention of Gabriel Wright’s birthplace or birthdate, nor of him being from Scotland. The book places the family first in New Jersey, and states “Gabriel Wright, father of John Wright, emigrated from New Jersey to Hampshire County, Virginia, at an early date, and from Virginia to Kentucky, and settled near Big Bone Lick, and remained there seven years, when he removed to the Northwest territory in 1789.” Historical documents I’ve found support this migration path, with the exception that the move to Ohio [Northwest territory] seems to have been in 1798 rather than 1789, which I believe is likely just a transposition of the last two numbers of the date in the book.
The Family of Gabriel Wright states on page 1 “When Gabriel Wright came to New Jersey, or how long he remained there, cannot be ascertained. His nationality was Welsh, his father having emigrated to America from Wales.” The account given in History Of The Wrights And Their Connections, on page 18 of the PDF, is slightly different, “As far back as we have been able to trace our ancestors they emigrated to American from Wales and settled in New Jersey.. [sic] How long they had been in America and when they settled in New Jersey we have not been able to ascertain the date. One Gabriel Wright our most ancient known ancestor of Welsh decent [sic]…”
No mention is made in any of these accounts as to the specific date or place Gabriel was born, nor to who his parents are. So where did this information come from? If anyone knows the answer to this question, I would really appreciate hearing from you! In my quest to find the answer, I have yet to find the source of the information. Whenever I locate another researcher’s tree which has specific birthdate, birthplace, or parent information for Gabriel, and ask the person who manages the tree where they obtained that information, I invariably get one of two responses, either “I don’t know” or “From another person’s tree.”
Looking into this situation further, I found Family Search has a “Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950” database (https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1771030). While I have not found a record for Gabriel Wright, searching this database yielded an extremely interesting entry for Anne Wright (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XT17-NM3). Anne’s father is listed as James Wright, and her birthdate is listed as being 8 September 1743. Same father, birthdate and birthplace as Gabriel Wright.
This brings up the possibility Gabriel could be a twin, but it seems if that is the case, his record would be found in this same database. Jedburgh is not a large city, so the possibility of two different men named James Wright having children on the same date in 1743 seems rather unlikely. Have previous researchers found a record only listing a child with the last name of Wright being born 8 September 1743 to James Wright, and assumed it must be Gabriel? These are all possibilities to further explore.
Looking through this database shows several Wright births in Jedburgh around the time Gabriel was supposedly born, with some of the names of the fathers being Isaac Wright, John Wright and James Wright. Births of this time in Roxburghshire, but not listed specifically as being in Jedburgh, include fathers with the names of Adam Wright, George Wright and Samuel Wright. This leads me to believe Wright was not an uncommon name for that area at that time. Searching for births with the last name of MacGregor in the same timeframe yielded no results in this database specific to Jedburgh or Roxburghshire. This seems to further call into question the legend of Gabriel’s ancestor having been the leader of Clan MacGregor, and that the name was changed from MacGregor to Wright around the time of the Battle of Culloden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden).
A Y-DNA comparison with a documented descendant of any of these Jedburgh Wright families from that timeframe would be very interesting. Locating such a descendant, however, could prove to be quite a challenge. While a longshot, I’ve sent messages to a handful of people I found on Facebook with the last name of Wright and listed as living in, or being from, Jedburgh. We’ll see if I get any responses, and if so, if the person may have any family history information on their Wright line.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, if anyone reading this has any further information on Gabriel Wright or his ancestors, or discovers any mistakes in my information, I would really appreciate hearing from you.