Thomas Wright and the City of London

Thomas Wright, the first resident of Bell House, took a diligent role in civic affairs at a time when the City was developing rapidly and confidently. The Seven Years War had just ended, paving the way for Britain’s global expansion. The City’s medieval gates were demolished in an act of symbolic and practical modernisation; sewers and water mains were laid, streets were paved or cobbled. In 1764 Thomas became a member of the Court of Common Council for Candlewick Ward where he was responsible for the collection of the coal duty tax, originally levied to support children orphaned by the Great Fire of London but then used for other projects. He became an alderman in 1777 and a sheriff two years later. This is an account of his installation:

 Common council chamber in the Guildhall

Common council chamber in the Guildhall

Yesterday morning the two new Sheriffs, viz. Aldermen Wright and Pugh, went in their carriages to Stationers Hall, where they breakfasted, and afterwards proceeded with the Master, wardens and Court of assistants of the said Company to Guildhall, where they were sworn into their offices, with the usual formalities. Their chariots were very elegant. The livery of Alderman Wright is a superfine orange-coloured cloth, richly trimmed with silver…The old and new Sheriffs returned from the Hall to the Paul's-Head Tavern when, according of annual custom, the keys of the different jails were delivered to the new Sheriffs, and they were regaled with walnuts and sack by the Keeper of Newgate. After the ceremony at Guildhall, the Sheriffs etc. returned to Stationers Hall where an elegant dinner was provided by Mr. Sheriff Wright...A Correspondent has favoured us with the following description of the painting on the new Sheriff's chariot: Mr. Alderman Wright's - 'Liberty, in a fitting posture, with her rod in one hand, and her other on the Roman faces, while a little-winged Genius is presenting her with a code of laws.'.
 

 Swearing in of a lord mayor: Thomas Wright (of Bell House) is front centre, looking over his shoulder. Source: Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

Swearing in of a lord mayor: Thomas Wright (of Bell House) is front centre, looking over his shoulder. Source: Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London