John Windham-Wright, son of a notable Witley resident.

Some earlier sources state John was born John Wright and changed his name on marriage to John Windham-Wright but we now know he was born Whittaker Wright in the United States, the son of James Whittaker and Annie Edith Wright. The family, including John’s sisters Edith and Gladys, returned to the United Kingdom in 1889 and James bought Lea Park (now Witley Park) in 1890 and spent a fortune remodelling it. James was popular in Witley, providing much employment, but was convicted of fraud in 1904.  James committed suicide after the judgement and is buried in All Saints churchyard with Annie who died in 1931.


John was educated at Eton and Oxford. He joined The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) Volunteers when he was 22 years old  in 1906 as a second lieutenant.  In 1911 he was living with Annie, Edith and Gladys at Parsonage Farm, Witley.  John married Violet Agnes Smijth-Windham, daughter of John Charles (a retired colonel) and Frances Helen Smijth-Windham on 15 August 1912 in Wrecclesham, Surrey.  The banns and marriage certificate give his name as John Windham-Wright, occupation gentleman, residence Witley, father John Whittaker Wright, deceased.  John had an uncle named John who invented the electric trolley pole and brought electric light to Toronto but he died in 1922.  In October 1912 John and Violet went to British Columbia, Canada on the Cunard liner S. S. Carmania (19,500 tons) so perhaps his change of name was meant for a new life as a farmer in Canada.


John and Violet returned to England in 1914 and John re-joined the Queens (Royal West Surrey Regiment) as a captain. He became medically unfit so was posted to the Fifth Reserve Battalion at Guildford and promoted to major in 1915.  John did much for the welfare of the men under his command; he led an appeal in December 1915 raising a considerable amount for their Christmas welfare.  John and Violet’s son, Patrick Joseph Stewart Windham-Wright was born in 1916.  By November 1917, John had recovered and was posted to the Sixth Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) and served in the Somme area and in Belgium.  At the end of 1918, John was attached to the Eleventh Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment), part of the occupying army in Germany based at Cologne, as a temporary lieutenant colonel.  In February 1919, the family received a telegram advising John was desperately ill with pneumonia and a few days later he died on 14 February.  In the meantime, The London Gazette of 13 February 1919 John announced as being awarded the Order of the British Empire.  Violet is listed at Winkford Lodge on the 1921 voter’s roll but then moved to Swanthorpe, East Liss and thereafter to several addresses in Sussex, Surrey and Berkshire.  Patrick married Weiti Urban in 1945 in The Netherlands.  Violet’s final home was in St. Leonards but she died on 14th February 1959 in The Netherlands, possibly whilst visiting Patrick’s in-laws.

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