Friday, August 6, 2010

Finding Wright

Jane Leech and William Elliott Wright

In the past I have asked for help locating items of interest. I am pleased to say that the mystery Field Talfourd diary has surfaced. Additionally, the painting of Grace Hogg Sutherland and her daughter has also been traced (thank you to Dustin again). But here's another object I'd like to find: the diary of Capt. William Elliott Wright (1795-1869). Wright was a naval man who settled not far from Sutherland and visited often with him, according to surviving transcriptions from his diary. However, the diary appears to have been passed down in the family, not deposited with Archives Canada, as other family papers were (I have inquired further, just in case).

Wright's daughter, Catherine, was friends with Thomas Sutherland's daughter Grace, and the two may even have been educated together: a Miss Clark came from England to stay at Wright's home (named Oaklands) on the St. Clair River and was charged with the education of the four daughters of the family. Apparently, other girls from homes along the river also came and lived at Oaklands, sharing in Miss Clark's lessons. Given their friendship, it is a distinct possibility that Grace would have been included. If this is indicative of the kind of details Wright recorded, it seems clear that his diary would provide significant additional insight into the lives and interactions of early settlers. The Wrights are, of course, interesting for other reasons as well: Jane Leech Wright was said to have cut off a lock of Napoleon's hair with his own sword--and his permission. (Apparently it was set in a brooch, and passed down in the family.)

Fans of Canadian history might be interested to know that Catherine Louisa Wright would go on to marry Alexander Vidal, another Sarnia acquaintance of all, and a Canadian senator from 1873-1906. Their daughter, Charlotte Jane Vidal (in 1876 married Thomas William Nisbet, Sarnia), was the author of a 1940 Wright genealogy, and is considered Sarnia's first historian--she drew extensively on family papers in her work. She is also the namesake of that city's Charlotte Street.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Jennifer, I just stumbled across your blog. I am very intrigued to know that the Field Talfourd diary has surfaced. I was just this week trying to ascertain its location. I can help you with Capt. William Wright's diary. It is housed in the Archives and Research Collections Centre (ARCC) of Western University, London, ON. I can provide further details if you email me at Thank you, Ian Mason, Secretary, Heritage St. Clair, municipal heritage commmittee of St. Clair Township, ON