Blessed Peter Wright

Blessed Peter Wright

Peter Wright


  • Death: 05/19/1651
  • Nationality (place of birth): England

Peter Wright (1603-1651) spent many years working as a Jesuit in Flanders before he returned to England in 1644 during the Civil War. He was able to serve Catholics for seven years before he was arrested just as he was about to celebrate Mass.

Wright was born into a poor Catholic family in Northamptonshire, England, and went to work with a local lawyer when he was still young. Over time he slipped away from the faith of his parents. After working for the lawyer for 10 years, he joined the English military forces in the Low Countries, but found that he did not like a soldier’s life. He deserted from the army and remained in Belgium where he came to know the Jesuits in Liège who helped reconcile him to the church.

In 1627 he attended the Jesuit school in Ghent and then entered the novitiate at Watten in 1629. He was ordained in 1639 and assigned first to work in the English College in Saint-Omer, and then, in an ironic twist of faith, to be chaplain to the English soldiers serving with the Spanish army in Flanders. He was attached to Sir Henry Gage's regiment which returned to England in the spring of 1644 to take part in the civil war then going on.

Wright became chaplain to the marquis of Winchester after Col. Gage was killed. The Jesuit worked first in Hampshire and then in London. Priest hunters knew of his presence and lay in wait for him to show up at the residence of the marquis on Candlemas Day. Wright was already vested for Mass when the police arrived; while the marquis attempted to slow the invaders down, Wright removed his vestments and went through a window up onto the roof. The priest hunters found him there and arrested him. He was taken to Newgate Prison but could not be tried until a witness came forward. Thomas Gage, the brother of the colonel under whom Wright had served, testified against the Jesuit who was quickly found guilty of being a priest. He celebrated his last Mass on the morning of his execution and was dragged to Tyburn where 20,000 spectators waited to watch the day's executions. The Jesuit followed 13 criminals to the gallows where he was hung until he died, and then dismembered. He had been a Jesuit for 22 of his 48 years.

Other English Martyrs

Originally Collected and edited by: Tom Rochford, SJ