James Wright ca.1644-1716/7

From Book Owners Online

James Wright ca.1644-1716/7

Biographical Note

Son of James Wright, clergyman and author. Wright became a student at New Inn, London in 1667, and migrated to Middle Temple in 1670. He was called to the bar in 1675. Alongside his legal career Wright was a translator, poet, antiquary and essayist, and had a special interest in the history of theatre.


Wright was a collector of old plays, and his library had contained valuable manuscripts, but many were destroyed in a 1678 fire at the Middle Temple. His books were sold by retail sale in London from 13 May 1719, alongside those of an unnamed physician. The items were described as being 'a very valuable Collection of English Historians, Voyages, Travels, Cannon and Civil Law, Physick, Surgery, Anatomy, Lives, Poetry, Mathematicks, Architecture, several Books of Maps &c. in English, Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch &c'. Over 1600 books were listed, divided into headings based on format, language and subject matter, and no reference was made to the owner from which the books originated. In his will, Wright expresses the desire that none of his manuscripts, whether in his hand or the hand of others, should be sold, but they should be put in a box and first offered to his very good friend William Bromley, and any that remain should be kept for his nephews 'in case any be scholars'.


  • Alston, R. C. Inventory of sale catalogues ... 1676-1800, St Philip, 2010.
  • Harmsen, Theodor. "Wright, James (bap. 1644, d. 1716/17), antiquary and author." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  • A catalogue of the library of that learned antiquary, James Wright, Esq; late of the Middle Temple, and an eminent physician, [London, 1718], ESTC T196951.