Maresfield - John Joseph Wright

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John Joseph Wright - Schoolmaster and Photographer of Maresfield

 

[ABOVE] John Joseph Wright (1845-1908) photographed when he was serving as the Head Master of Maresfield National School ((later known as Bonners Church of England Primary School) and working as a part-time photographer in the village of Maresfield. He was also the organist at the parish church.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Celia Witts, great grand-daughter of John J. Wright

John Joseph Wright (1844 -1908)

John Joseph Wright was born at Islington, North London, on 2nd August,1844, the son of Amelia and William Wright, a watchmaker. On 26th March,1870, John Joseph Wright married Martha Sarah Maud Burrows (born 1839, Clerkenwell, London), the daughter of Mrs Martha Newton (formerly Burrows). Within a year of their wedding, John Joseph Wright and his wife were living in Sussex at Maresfield, a village situated 2 miles north of Uckfield. The 1871 census records John Joseph Wright as Head School Master at Twyford School, Maresfield.

The union of John Joseph Wright and Martha Sarah Burrows produced at least five children - John William Wright (born 1871, Maresfield, Sx.), Amelia Martha Wright (born 1872, Maresfield, Sx.), Florence Wright (born 1874, Maresfield, Sx.), Alfred Joseph Wright (born 1876, Aldgate, London, Mdx.) and William James Wright (born 1879, Maresfield, Sx.).

John Joseph Wright had moved to Maresfield to take up a teaching post at Twyford School. Around 1878, John Joseph Wright was appointed Master of Maresfield National School, succeeding Mr Jonathan Turner Naylor (born 1847, Sowerby, Yorkshire) who had returned to his home village in North Yorkshire to become the Headmaster of Sowerby District National School.

When the 1881 census was taken, John Joseph Wright, his wife Martha, and their five children were recorded as residing at The School House, Maresfield. Thirty-six year John J. Wright is entered on the census return as a "School Master" and his wife, Mrs Martha S. M. Wright is described as a "School Mistress", aged 40.

John Joseph Wright is recorded as the School Master in Maresfield over the next 25 years. The county directories for Sussex published between 1882 and 1905 list John Joseph Wright as the "Master" of the National School in Maresfield. The census returns completed in 1881, 1891 and 1901 show John J. Wright, described either as a "School Master" or "Certificated Teacher", residing at The School House, Maresfield.
 

[LEFT] Schoolmaster John Joseph Wright pictured in a school group photograph taken by Frank Doran of West Brighton (Hove) at the National School in Maresfield (also known as Bonner's School) around 1890. Mr Wright stands to the left of a group of 27 pupils. Standing on the right is a younger man who is probably a certificated teacher serving as an assistant master at the school. In 1890 it was recorded that, on average, only 87 pupils attended the school.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Kit Heald]

John J. Wright's wife, Mrs Martha Wright, also worked as a teacher at the Maresfield National School. The county directories for Sussex published during the early 1890s, list Mrs Martha Wright as the "Mistress" of the National School in Maresfield. When the census was taken on 5th April 1891, Martha Wright is described as a fifty year old "School Mistress". Living with Martha and her husband at The School House  in Maresfield was Mrs Martha Newton, Martha's ninety year old widowed mother. Mrs Newton, Martha's mother, died early in 1896 at the age of 95. John Wright's wife was not destined to live as long as her mother. Mrs Martha Sarah Wright died at Maresfield on 11th March 1896 at the age of 56.
 

[ABOVE] Schoolmaster John Joseph Wright pictured in a school group photograph taken at the National School in Maresfield (also known as Bonner's School) around 1885.  Mr Wright stands in the centre of the photograph with his arms folded. This group photograph features the younger pupils who attended the National School in Maresfield. A second National School, which catered for infant children, was situated at Ashdown Forest. The teenaged girl in the white apron, possibly Amelia Wright, the School Master's eldest daughter, was probably a pupil-teacher.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Maresfield Parish Council

On 19th April 1897, at Southwick in Sussex, John Joseph Wright married Agnes Clara McLachlan (formerly Markwick), the daughter of Robert Markwick. The widowed school teacher was 52 years of age and his new wife Mrs Agnes McLachlan (who was born Agnes Clara Markwick in Maresfield in 1868) was aged 29. Agnes had emigrated to Australia in 1889 when she was 21 and had married Hugh McLachlan the following year. After Hugh McLachlan died in 1891, Agnes returned to her home village.

John Joseph Wright started a new family with his young wife. Early in 1898, Agnes Wright gave birth to a baby daughter named Violet Eva Wright. Towards the end of 1900, another daughter, Gladys Hilda Wright, arrived. A third child, a son named Leonard Hugh Wright, was born in Maresfield during the 4th Quarter of 1902.

When the 1901 census was taken, John Joseph Wright and his family were residing at the School House, Maresfield. On the census return, John J. Wright is described  as a 56 year old "Certificated Teacher". In addition to Agnes Wright, his 33 year old wife, John Wright shared his home with two grown-up children from his first marriage - twenty-four year old Alfred J. Wright and twenty-one year old William J. Wright (both employed as telegraphists for the General Post Office) - and two young children from his union with Agnes -  Violet Eva Wright (aged 3) and Gladys Hilda Wright (aged 4 months).

Around 1905, John Joseph Wright retired from teaching and moved to Southwick, near Brighton. [Mr Wright's successor as the Head School Master at Maresfield's National School was Albert Edward Cosham (born 1878, Ringmer) who had previously worked as an 'Assistant Master' at the Ringmer Board School].

John Joseph Wright died at his home in Norfolk Terrace, Southwick, on 6th January 1908. John Wright was 63 years old when he died, leaving behind a widow in her late thirties and three young children. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, Mr Wright's widow, forty-two year old Mrs Agnes Clara Wright, was recorded at 10 Norfolk Terrace, Southwick, Brighton, with her three children - Violet Eva Wright (aged 13), Gladys Hilda Wright (aged 10) and Leonard Hugh Wright (aged 8).
 

To commemorate John Joseph Wright b.1844 . d.1908 And his wife Martha S. M. Wright b.1840 (1839) . d 1896 Headmaster and mistress of Bonner's School for 30 years. He being organist of Maresfield Church.

[ABOVE] John Joseph Wright and his first wife Mrs Martha Sarah Maud commemorated on a plaque in the Vestry of St. Bartholmew's Church, Maresfield.

In addition to being the Headmaster of Maresfield National School and the village's resident photographer, John Joseph Wright was for many years the organist at St. Bartholomew's Church in Maresfield. It is also reported that Mr Wright also played the organ at the church in the neighbouring village of Fairwarp. A plaque commemorating the services of John Joseph Wright and his first wife Martha can be seen in the Vestry of St. Bartholomew's Church.
 

John Joseph Wright - Schoolmaster and Photographer

In a small village, such as Maresfield, it was not unusual for the the resident photographer to be employed full-time in some other capacity. A small rural population could not support a full-time professional photographer (The parish of Maresfield had 2,082 inhabitants in 1881) and so it was quite common for the local chemist, publican, grocer or some other tradesman to double-up as the village photographer.
[ABOVE] An outdoor photographer at work in 1899. A young boy stands beside him holding a photographic plate. A detail from a painting by Eugene Chaperon (1857-1938). Outdoor photography became more common at the end of the 19th century after the introduction of  instantaneous "dry plate" photography in the late 1870s.
John Joseph Wright (1845-1908) was not the first school teacher in Sussex to engage in photography as a means of supplementing a modest income. William Scutt (18361864), a school master at the Surrey Street School in Littlehampton, was taking photographic portraits and producing stereoscopic views for sale as early as 1862. Charles Ayling (1825-1894) served as a schoolmaster in Walberton, a small Sussex village near Arundel, between 1851 and 1861, yet he was advertising his services as a photographer in 1860 when he was still employed as a school teacher. Robert Wright (1818-1862), the Principal of Lancing Grammar School, produced a set of stereoscopic photographs of Lancing and Shoreham before his early death in 1862 at the age of 43.
John Joseph Wright took photographic portraits in Maresfield on a commercial basis between 1880 and 1900, rubber-stamping his trade plate "J. J. WRIGHT, MARESFIELD"  on the reverse of his cartes-de-visite and cabinet cards.

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young man, photographed by John Joseph Wright of Maresfield (c1882). The photographer, John J. Wright, was the Headmaster of Maresfield National School, (later known as Bonners C. E. Primary School), but also served as the village's resident photographer. [ABOVE] The reverse of the carte-de-visite portrait illustrated on the left, showing the photographer's credit "J. J. Wright, Maresfield" rubber-stamped on the back of the photograph. John Joseph Wright, who was employed as a school master at the village school, took photographic portraits in Maresfield during the 1880s.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Mike Rogers

[RIGHT] Mrs Martha Sarah Wright (1839-1896), the first wife of John Joseph Wright, School Master of Maresfield National School. Martha Sarah Maud Burrows married John Joseph Wright at St. Botolph's Church, Bishopsgate, London on 26th March 1870. When her husband was appointed Master of Maresfield National School, Mrs Martha Wright became the School 'Mistress' at the same school. This photographic portrait of Mrs Wright was taken in the mid-1890s, not long before she died from pneumonia on 11th March 1896 at the age of 56. Mrs Martha Wright is commemorated on a plaque in the Vestry of St. Bartholomew's Church.

Just over a year after the death of his first wife, John Joseph Wright married  a  29 year old widow named Mrs Agnes McLachlan. Mr Wright's second wife did not take on the duties of the School Mistress at Maresfield School.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Celia Witts, great grand-daughter of Martha  Wright

 

1881 Census: The School House, Maresfield, Sussex

NAME

 

AGE

OCCUPATION

PLACE OF BIRTH

John J. Wright

HEAD

36

School Master

Islington, Middlesex
Martha S. M. Wright

wife

40

School Mistress Clerkenwell, Middlesex
John W. Wright son

9

scholar

Maresfield, Sussex
Amelia M. Wright daughter

8

scholar Maresfield, Sussex
Florence Wright daughter  6 scholar Maresfield, Sussex
Alfred J. Wright son

4

scholar Aldgate, Middlesex
William J. Wright son  1 - Maresfield, Sussex
[ABOVE] John Joseph Wright recorded as the 36 year old headmaster of the Maresfield National School (later known as Bonners Church of England Primary School). Mr Wright's wife, Martha, worked alongside him as
 

The village of Maresfield and the National School at Maresfield

[ABOVE] A view of  the Sussex village of Maresfield, photographed and published as a picture postcard by Charles Wickham of Maresfield (c1915). On the right is St. Bartholomew's Church which has long been associated with the village school. John Joseph Wright played the organ at St. Bartholomew's Church during the years he was employed as the village schoolmaster.
 

Maresfield and the National Schools

Maresfield is a village and parish in Sussex, situated about 2 miles north of the town of Uckfield. In 1871, the population of Maresfield was 1,965. The most important building in the village was St Bartholomew's Church and it was the Reverend Richard Bonner, the Rector of Maresfield, who first established a school in the village. Rev. Richard Bonner, who was Rector of Maresfield between 1675 and his death in 1692, made a provision in his will for a school to be operated from one of his cottages, the cost of maintaining a school teacher at Maresfield to be covered from rents raised from land and property he owned in Maresfield and nearby Ringmer. Sometime before 1819, a National School was established in Maresfield. A National School was a school that was set up by the National Society for Promoting Religious Education, an organisation which promoted "Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England". From 1833, the National School in Maresfield would have received some funds from the Government in the form of annual grants, but it continued to receive financial aid from Bonner's Charity. The original school was in Bonner's cottage, but when the National School was built close by, the cottage was used as the School House, providing accommodation for the School Master or School Mistress. The National School in Maresfield was rebuilt during the early 1870s and was opened in 1873 by the Right Reverend Richard Durnford, the Bishop of Chichester. The entry for Maresfield in the 1874 edition of Kelly's Post Office Directory of Sussex referred to "two National Schools, one an elegant and imposing structure, of red brick and stone, capable of accommodating 140 children, built on the old site, and opened in 1873, by the Lord Bishop of Chichester as a mixed school; also one picturesquely situated on Ashdown forest, to accommodate 60 children, built and opened as an infant school in same year."

John Joseph Wright (born 1845, Islington, London) arrived in Maresfield with his wife around 1871. When John Joseph Wright was appointed Master of Maresfield National School (also known as Bonner's School) around 1878, the school building could accommodate 136 boys and girls, but it appears that the average attendance over the years was between 87 and 105. Mrs Martha Wright served as the senior School Mistress until her death in 1896 at the age of 56. John Joseph Wright continued as the Headmaster of Maresfield School until around 1905.

 

[ABOVE] The parish and village of Maresfield, as described in Kelly's Directory of Sussex, published in 1878, the year that John Joseph Wright was appointed the Master of the National School in Maresfield. The population of Maresfield totalled less than 2,000. The National School in Maresfield could accommodate up to 140 boys and girls, but less than a hundred children attended regularly.

[ABOVE] John Joseph Wright listed as the Master of the National (Mixed) School in Maresfield and his wife, Mrs Martha Wright as the senior School Mistress, as printed in the 1890 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex. A footnote explains that the schools in Maresfield were supported financially by two charities, Bonner's and Betton's. Reverend Richard Bonner, the Rector of Maresfield,  had stipulated in his will of 1689 that the rents from his lands in Maresfield and Ringmer should pay "for the appointment of a school master". The school in Maresfield was to to be called "Bonner's School" and today the local primary school in Maresfield is known as Bonners Church of England Primary School.
[LEFT] Details of the 2 schools in the parish of Maresfield, as printed in the 1899 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex. John Joseph Wright is listed as the Master of the National School in Maresfield. Mr Wright's school mistress wife, Mrs Martha Wright, had died in 1896 and so he is supported by 3 assistant mistresses.
 
John Joseph Wright
Part-time Photographer in Maresfield
[LEFT] The trade plate of  John J. Wright, photographer of Maresfield, which was rubber-stamped on the backs of his portraits.

[ABOVE] The reverse of the cabinet portrait illustrated on the right showing the photographer's credit "J. J. Wright, Maresfield" rubber-stamped in purple ink on the back of the photograph. John Joseph Wright, who was employed as a school master at the village school, took photographic portraits in Maresfield during the 1880s and 1890s. [ABOVE] A cabinet card portrait of an elderly woman seated in a garden, photographed by John Joseph Wright of Maresfield (c1885). The man who produced this outdoor  photographic portrait was John Joseph Wright, the Headmaster of the National School in Maresfield. Without a properly equipped photographic studio, John J. Wright took most of his portraits on location, usually at the sitter's home.

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 A School Class Photograph taken at the Maresfield National School by Frank Doran of 43 George Street, Hove (c1890)

[ABOVE] A school class photograph taken at the Maresfield National School by Frank Doran of 43 George Street, West Brighton (c1890). The school master standing on the left is John Joseph Wright (1844-1908). The boy standing to Mr Wright's left is James Arthur Booth (born 1877, St Pauls Walden, Bedfordshire) and in front of James is his sister Lucy May Booth (born 1879, Eastbourne, Sussex).  James and Lucy Booth were children of Philis and David Booth, a 'Nurseryman' of Piltdown, Maresfield. James Booth left school at 13 to work as an assistant at his father's nursery in Piltdown. Lucy May Booth later found employment as a "Parlour Maid'" .    
                                                                                                                  [ PHOTO: Courtesy of Kit Heald ]

[ABOVE] Detail from the the school  photograph illustrated above showing schoolmaster John Joseph Wright and two of his pupils, James Arthur Booth and Lucy May Booth.
In 1889 or 1890, Frank Doran, a photographer based at 43 George Street, Hove, visited Maresfield National School with his photographic equipment. Frank Doran (1860-1931) made his living by taking school group photographs and travelled across East and West Sussex offering his services to local schools. Over his long photographic career, Frank Doran took school group photographs in Brighton and Hove and in places as far afield as Ringmer, East Preston, Ringmer and Bexhill-on-Sea.

When Frank Doran photographed the Headmaster, his assistant and the assembled 27 pupils in the school yard at Maresfield, he was probably unaware that John Joseph Wright (1844-1908), the Master of Maresfield National School, was already supplementing his income as a teacher by taking photographic portraits in the village.

Standing beside headmaster John Joseph Wright in the Maresfield school photograph were 12 year old James Arthur Booth and his 10 year old sister, Lucy May Booth. James and Lucy were two of six children belonging to Phillis and David Booth, 'nurseryman, seedsman & florist' of the Piltdown Nursery, Maresfield.

David Booth, who had been born in Warbleton, Sussex in 1849, had previously worked in domestic service as a 'Gardener'. In 1874, David Booth married Phillis Cruttenden (born 1850, Westfield, Sussex), the daughter of Lucy and James Cruttenden, a farmer of Bexhill, Sussex. The union of David Booth and Phillis Cruttenden produced 6 children: Robert Walter Booth (born 1874, St Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire); Frederick William Booth (born 1875, St Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire); James Arthur Booth (born 1877, St Pauls Walden, Hertfordshire); Lucy May Booth (born 1879, Eastbourne, Sussex); Florence Mary Booth (born 1885, Isfield, Sussex) and Winifred Eleanor Booth (born 1889, Maresfield, Sussex). By the time his last child was born in 1885, David Booth had established his own nursery at Piltdown, near Maresfield. David Booth's local reputation as a nurseryman was so high that his produce was mentioned in the entry for Maresfield in the 1890 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex: "Mr.Booth is also in high repute for new and choice roses and for his specimens of Araucaria Imbricata ('monkey puzzle tree'), of which there is a fine avenue; all the choicest conifers are to be found here in free and healthy growth."

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Maresfield Parish Council and Bonners Church of England Primary School, Maresfield. I am also grateful to Kit Heald who provided the school group photograph taken by Frank Doran at Maresfield National School around 1890. Kit Heald's grandfather, James Arthur Booth (1877-1968) attended Maresfield National School during the late 1880s. Thanks also to Celia Witts (the great grand-daughter of John Joseph Wright) who allowed me to use the photographic portraits of Joseph Wright and his wife, Mrs Martha Sarah Wright. It was Celia who also informed me about J. J. Wright's activities as a church organist.

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