Wright Chippendale period bureau (c. 1750)


My not so distant cousin Charles Wright has once again let me know about one of his amazing finds. This time it’s a George II era Chippendale-style bureau being sold by Peacocks Antiques in Pimlico that has a ‘superbly carved cartouche displaying my Wright ancestors family coat of arms:

‘Sable on a chevron between three unicorns’ heads Or as many spearheads Gules’. The unicorn was a famous device all over Europe, and symbolised the virtue of the mind and the strength of the body. It is well known as a supporter of the Royal Arms of England, a position it has occupied since the accession of James VI of Scotland to the English throne as James I.

At around 8 feet tall and just under 4 feet wide, it is a tad too big for my humble abode and at £55,000 a tad more expensive then any furniture I have ever bought, which isn’t much. It’s an amazing piece of craftsmanship though, and I would love to have a closer look:


For me what was also interesting was the supporting family history Peacock’s had compiled on my Wright ancestors:

The Wright family of Nottingham bankers made their fortune from iron and coal production. Ichabod Wright (1700-1777), had been a merchant and ironmonger who found the Wrights Bank in 1761. The family’s history can be traced back to 1557, when his great-grandfather, John Wright, of Stowmarket, Suffolk, made his will. His first son, Ichabod’s grandfather, was Captain John Wright, who suffered eight years’ imprisonment in Newark Castle for his attachment to the Parliamentary cause. He afterwards acquired property in Nottinghamshire and Suffolk (see L. Jacks, The Great Houses of Nottinghamshire and the County Families, 1881).

The Wright family had been extensively engaged in the Baltic trade at premises in Long Row, where they were large importers dealing in iron, timber, and other commodities derived from abroad. Having at that time a widespread connection with Manchester, Stockport, Hull, Sheffield, and other of the principal trading and industrial centres of Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midlands generally, the firm were then in the habit of discounting the bills of merchants and manufacturers and supplying them with gold, and as this department of the business gradually assumed a greater importance the original trade was finally relinquished in 1761, and banking was established in its place. (see Industries and Manufactures Illustrated and Reviewed, Robinson, Son & Co., 1898).

The head of the firm was Thomas Wright (b. 1724-1790) of Mapperley Hall, who possibly had commissioned the present bookcase.

From what I have read on the site of my distant cousin Fr. Stephen Wright. The family’s origins go back to an Italian Camplyone who changed his name to Wright sometime in the 16Centruy. Apparently, the family was then in Suffolk and in the next century travelled to Nottinghamshire where a Captain Wright is mentioned in Lucy Hutchinson’s diaries as raising a troop for Parliament in the 1640s. I had read about the Captain Wright and that a Wright ancestor had changed his name from Camplyone, but I didn’t know he was Italian. That adds another European relative.

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