Wright, Abraham

, a learned and loyal divine of the seventeenth century, was the son of Richard Wright, citizen and silk-dyer of London, who was the son of Jeffrey Wright, of Loughborough, in Leicestershire. He was born in Black- Swan alley, Thames-street, in the parish of St. James’s, Garlick Hythe, London, Dec. 23, 1611, and educated partly at Mercers’- chapel school, but principally at Merchant Taylors, whence he was elected scholar of St. JobnVcollege, Oxford, in 1629, by the interest of Dr. Juxon, then president, w/ho became his patron. He was much admired at this time for a natural eloquence, and a love of polite literature. In 1632 he was elected fellow, and while bachelor of arts, made a collection of modern Latin poetry, which he published afterwards under the title of “Delitiae delitiarum, siveepigrammatum ex optimis quibusque hujus novissimi seculi Poetis in amplissima ilia | Bibl. Bodleiana, et pene omnino alibi extantibus artthologia in unum corollum connexa,” Ox. 1637, 12mo. In 1636, when archbishop Laud entertained the royal family at St. JohnVcollege, Mr. Wright was selected to make an English address, and afterwards distinguished himself as a performer in a comedy called “Love’s Hospital,” which was acted before their majesties in the hall, by a company of St. John’s men.

In Sept. 1637, and 1639, betook deacon’s and priest’s orders, and was so much admired as an eloquent preacher as to be frequently called upon to preach at St. Mary’s, St. Paul’s, London, &c, In 1645 he became vicar of Okeham in Rutlandshire, by the interest of his patron Jnxon, now bishop of London, and received institution, but refused induction, because in that case he must have taken the covenant, which was altogether repugnant to his principles, and therefore a nonconformist was placed in his living, one Benjamin King. Mr. Wright then went to London, and lived retired till after the death of the king, when he was hospitably received into the family of sir George Grime or Graham at Peckham, and while here he instructed sir George’s sons in Latin and Greek, and read the Commonprayer on all Sundays and holidays, and preached and administered the sacrament. About 1655 he returned to London, on being chosen by the parishioners of St. Olave, Silver-street, to be their minister. In this office he remained for four years, and was in fact rector, but would not take possession on account of the republican oaths and obligations necessary. He performed all his duties, however, according to the forms of the Church of England, although at some risk. On the restoration Benjamin King, who had been put into his living at Okeham, resigned, by his hand and seal, all title to it, and Mr. Wright took possession and retained it to his dying day, refusing some other preferments. He lived here to a very advanced age, and died May 9, 1690, and was buried in Okeham church. Besides the “Delitiae paetarum” already mentioned, he published 1. “Five Sermons in five several stiles or ways of preaching,” Lond. 1656, 8vo. The object of this curious collection is to exhibit the advantages of education in fitting for the ministry, as well as the different styles of some eminent men of that period, viz. bishop Andrews, bishop Hall, Dr. Mayne, and Mr. Cartwright. Dr. Birch is mistaken in calling this an imitation of different stjles; | it is a selection from the works of the respective authors, 2. “A practical commentary, or exposition on the hook of Psalms,” Lond. 1661, fol. 3. “Practical Commentary on the Pentateuch,” ibid. fol. 4. “Parnassus biceps, or several choice pieces of poetry, composed by the best wits that were in both the universities before their dissolution,” ibid. 1656, 8vo. He wrote some other works which have not been printed.

He left a son, James Wright, known to dramatic antiquaries, as one of the earliest historians of the stage, and perhaps one of the first collectors of old plays after Cartwright, whbse collection was at Dulwich-college. His work on this subject, which is extremely scarce, is entitled “Historia Histrionica; an historical account of the English stage, shewing the ancient use, improvement, and perfection, of dramatic representations in this nation. In a dialogue of plays and players,” Lond. 1699, 8vo. It was-first brought forward by Oldys, who quoted it in his life of Alleyn the player in the Biographia Britannica, By Warburton’s recommendation it was prefixed to Dodsley’s “Old Plays,” but the preface has been omitted which Warton says is a sensible one, and certainly points out the only use of most old plays, ‘as exhibiting the manners of the times. Wright wrote likewise “Country conversations, being an account of some discourses that happened on a visit to the country last summer, on divers subjects; chiefly, of the modern comedies, of drinking, of translated verse, of painting and painters, of poets and poetry,” Lond. 1694, 12mo. He appears also to have been a skilful antiquary, and had formed a very curious collection, which was unfortunately consumed in a fire in the Middle Temple in 1698. Among his Mss. was an excellent transcript of Leland’s “Itinerary,” of the age of queen Elizabeth, and consequently made before the present mutilations and corruptions. On this he had much correspondence with Hearne. His other works were, 1. “A poem, being an Essay on the present ruins of St. Paul’s cathedral,” Lond. 1663, 4to. 2. “History and Antiquities of the county of Rutland,” ibid. 1634, fol. soon followed by “Additions” in 1687, and “Farther Additions,1714. This is a work of much labour and research, although not perfect. ’6. “A new der scription of the city of Paris, in two parts, out of the French,” ibid. 1687, 8vo. 4. “Verses anniversary to the venerable memory of his ever honoured father, &c.1690, | 8vo. 5. “Monasticon Anglicanum, &c.” an accurate epitome in English of Dugdale’s “Monasticon,” ibid. 1693, fol. 6. “Three poems of St. Paul’s cathedral, viz. The Ruins (mentioned above), The re-building, The Choir,1697, fol. 7. “Phcenix Paulina, a poem on St. Paul’s cathedral,1709, 4to. 8. “Burley on the hill, a poem,” 4to, no date, but reprinted in his last additions to his Rutlandshire. Hearne, who knew and respected Wright, informs us, that he wrote strictures on Wood’s “Athenæ,” but that they remained in manuscript. Wright, a few years before his death, gave Hearne a complete catalogue of his works, which on application he had refused to Wood, “as an injudicious biographer.

Wright, who was born about 1644, was probably educated at Merchant Taylors’ school, but was not of either university. In 1666 be became a student of New Inn, and in three years removed to the Middle Temple, and was at length called to the bar. He died about 1715. 1

1 Ath. Ox. vol. II lurch’s Life of Tillotson.-^-Warton’s edition of Milton’s Wilson’s Hist, of Merchant Taylors* school.