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WRIGHT, John ([1770]-1844)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/520
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Full title: WRIGHT, John ([1770]-1844)
Date(s): 1719-1831
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 6 production units.
Name of creator(s): Wright | John | [1770]-1844 | publisher and editor


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Wright was born in Norwich circa 1770, son of a clerk. He was apprenticed to his uncle, a silk mercer, but by 1797 he had established his own business as a bookseller and publisher, based at 169 Piccadilly. He published an anti-Whig journal called Anti-Jacobin, or, Weekly Examiner. However, the journal was not a success and Wright went bankrupt in 1802 and was imprisoned. He was released on terms that indebted him to William Cobbett. Cobbett employed him to supervise production of various serial publications including Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, Cobbett's Parliamentary Debates, Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England, and Cobbett's Complete Collection of State Trials. However, the relationship did not end well, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and negligence ending in arbitration which saw Wright obtain 1000 damages against Cobbett. Thomas Curson Hansard took over publication of the Parliamentary Debates and Wright continued to edit them.

In 1826 Wright began a crusade against the Grand Junction Waterworks Company, which supplied water to the City of Westminster. In March 1827 Wright wrote and published a pamphlet, The Dolphin, or, Grand Junction Nuisance, followed by a monograph in 1828, The Water Question, in which he denounced the quality of the water suppy. The company used water from the Thames, drawn from a suction device (known as a dolphin) situated near the mouth of the Ranelagh common sewer, so that the water was saturated with impurities. The cause was championed in Parliament and supported by doctors and chemists. A royal commission of enquiry followed, and engineer Thomas Telford was appointed to investigate alternative water sources.

In 1830 Wright stopped working for Hansard over problems with the speed at which he worked. He was employed by other publishers to edit works including editions of Byron, Boswell, the speeches of Charles James Fox and the letters of Horace Walpole and William Pitt. Wright died in February 1844.

Source of information: Page Life, 'Wright, John (1770/71-1844)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 17 June 2011].


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of John Wright relating to his campaign to improve the water supply of the Grand Junction Waterworks Company. The records comprise: papers relating to the water supply in the Metropolis, 1719-1831; and letter of appeal concerning John Wright's efforts to improve the water supply, 1829.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the City of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The provenance of Ms 172-3 is unknown. Ms 14872 was purchased by Guildhall Library in 1974 and was catalogued in the same year. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For records of the Grand Junction Waterworks Company see reference ACC/2558/GJ.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Records prepared May to September 2011.

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