Wright, Matthew John

Wright, Matthew John (Matthew)

Second Lieutenant

‘C’ Company, 14th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 1 July 1916 (aged 28)

No known grave


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Thiepval Memorial, France (Pier and Face 15 A and 15 B)

Newtownards and District War Memorial

First Newtownards Presbyterian Church


Matthew John Wright was born on 23 February 1888 in Springfield, Newtownards and he was the fourth son of the Rev William Wright DD and Charlotte McWilliams Wright (nee Robinson) who were married on 9 December 1880 in First Broughshane Presbyterian Church, Co Antrim.

The Wright family lived in Corporation South and later Circular Street in Newtownards.

The Rev Wright was the Minister in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church and he and Charlotte had eight children:

Archibald Robinson (born 22 October 1881 in Flush, Newtownards)

Thomas (born 28 September 1882 in Springfield, Newtownards)

William Martin (born 22 April 1884 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Hannah Dunlop (born 24 June 1885 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Charlotte McWilliams (born 13 January 1887 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Matthew John (born 23 February 1888 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Richard Ponsonby Maxwell (born 9 July 1890 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Alfred James (born 5 June 1897 in Springfield, Newtownards)

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Matthew Wright worked as a timber merchant’s assistant in the firm of Messrs James P. Corry in Belfast and he was a member of one of the Newtownards companies of the North Down Regiment of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).  His brother William was a company commander in the UVF.  Matthew joined the Young Citizen Volunteers as a Private and soon received a commission as Second Lieutenant in the same Battalion (14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles).  In October 1915 he went to the Front with 109th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and, for a time, was an instructor in the bomb-throwing school.

Second Lieutenant Matthew Wright was wounded in May 1916 and spent some time recuperating at home in Newtownards.  At the same time his brother William was at home on leave and William was installed as Worshipful Master of Volunteers LOL No. 1501.  Second Lieutenant Matthew Wright returned to duty and was killed by an exploding shell on 1 July 1916.  Three days earlier Matthew’s brother William had been seriously injured but William was able to return to active service.  In all, four of the Wright brothers were on active service during the Great War.  Second Lieutenant Matthew John Wright has no known grave and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church.

Matthew’s father, the Rev William Wright, died of heart failure and prostate cancer in Springfield Manse on 13 August 1919 (aged 63) and was buried in Movilla New Cemetery Newtownards.