Henry Dixon Dixon-Wright
Henry Dixon Wright was not a native of Dartmouth but came to the town because of the Royal Navy. He was born on 25th April 1870 at 3 St George's Villas, Bickerton Road, Upper Holloway, and baptised on 29th June 1870 at St John's Holloway. He was the eldest son of Henry Wright, law stationer, and his wife Martha Box.
Henry Wright (senior) had been born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire. He had gone into the printing and publishing industry, being apprenticed to his uncle John Wright in Bristol, and subsequently coming to work in London, where he was the manager of a printing and stationery business. On 27th May 1869, he married Martha Box, at St John's Church Upper Holloway. Martha was born in Pimlico, the third daughter of Robert Dixon Box, a bootmaker "employing 31 men, 15 women and a boy", according to the 1861 Census. In 1861, Martha was working as a governess.
After their marriage in Holloway the couple settled close by, and were recorded in the 1871 Census living at 3 St George's Villas, Bickerton Road, with their infant son Henry, aged eleven months. A second child, William, was born there in 1871, and baptised at St John's Holloway on 8th November 1871. By 1881 the family had moved to Highgate.
Henry attended Highgate School and went up to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on 1st October 1889, to read Classics. He graduated BA in 1892. Whilst his brother William went into the printing and stationery business with his father, Henry chose a different path. He trained for the Anglican priesthood at Ridley Hall, Cambridge, in 1892; was ordained Deacon by the Bishop of Rochester in 1893, and Priest by the Bishop of London in 1894.
His first curacy was St Stephen's, South Lambeth, in a large, fairly new church, followed by three years at St James, Paddington, which had been recently enlarged and remodelled to accommodate a growing congregation. After these two large London parishes, he moved to a more rural life in 1897. St John's, Stoke next Guildford, had been created three years earlier when the old parish of Stoke was divided into two - "Stoke next" being the outlying surburban and rural part of the parish. But perhaps rural life was too quiet, because he spent only a year there, being appointed English Chaplain at Las Palmas, in the Canaries, in 1898. Perhaps this appointment brought him in close touch with the Navy, and encouraged him to join. He was appointed an Anglican Chaplain in the Royal Navy on 10th November 1899.
Henry's first few appointments were uneventful. He first joined HMS Resolution, in the Channel Fleet, followed in 1900 by HMS Ramilles, the flagship of Rear Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, the second in command of the Mediterranean Fleet. Ramilles paid off in August 1903, returning to Portsmouth for a refit; and Henry was then appointed to HMS Bedford, a Monmouth class armoured cruiser completed in 1903. She served in the 2nd Cruiser Squadron in the Channel Fleet until 1906.
Whilst serving in HMS Bedford, he married Annie Louisa Paton Lawrie, at St Simon's Church Southsea, on Saturday 4th June 1904. His brother was his best man. The Portsmouth Evening News reported that:
The bride was attired in an effective travelling gown of ivory voile with accordion-pleated flounce and a deep hip yoke of the fashionable faggoting. The blouse was of silk and lace, with a voile coat and faggoted bolero. The hat was of white crinoline straw, trimmed with tulle and an ostrich feather. An ostrich feather stole completed the costume.
The fashionable Annie Louisa was the eldest daughter of John Paton Lawrie and his wife Emma Louisa Harris, and was born in Dublin in 1875. Her father had been an officer in the 2nd (The Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot, transferring in 1879 to become an Army Paymaster. After her father's sudden death in 1894, she, her mother and sisters had settled in Southsea; her only brother Frank was an officer in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. Henry and Annie Louisa's first child, Henry John Dixon Wright, was born in Southsea in 1905.
In 1906 Henry Dixon Wright was appointed to HMS Egmont, as the Chaplain for Malta Hospital; and in 1907, he became the Chaplain at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. Henry Dixon Wright was thus a close colleague and neighbour of Engineer Commander (as he was then) Charles Taylor, who was also at the College at this time, and is also on our database. The family moved to Dartmouth and made their home in the town. The 1911 Census recorded Henry, Annie Louisa and Henry John living at Portelli, Ridge Hill, Dartmouth. Their second son, Frank William Dixon Wright, was born there a few weeks later, on 9th May 1911. Henry changed his surname to "Dixon-Wright" later that year (London Gazette, 8th September 1911).
During Henry's time at Dartmouth, he was responsible for preparing both the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and his younger brother, Prince Albert (the future George VI) for confirmation. In 1911-12 he acted as Chaplain to the King and Queen on their journey to and from India, for the Delhi Durbar, and was awarded the Royal Victorian Order, Fourth Class, on 4th February 1912. On 2nd March 1914, he conducted a burial service at St Clement's Townstal for Andrew Thomson, a member of the College staff. Andrew was the stepfather of Albert William Privett, who died on HMS Queen Mary at Jutland.
At the outbreak of war, the College staff (and the students) were largely dispersed on mobilisation. Henry was appointed as Chaplain to HMS Albemarle, a pre-dreadnought Duncan-class battleship. She and her sister ships were first assigned to the 3rd Battle Squadron in the Grand Fleet, to work on the Northern Patrol, then transferred to the Channel Fleet to bombard German submarine bases based on the coast of Belgium, before once again returning to the Grand Fleet. Albemarle went into refit in October 1915, and Henry was appointed as Chaplain to HMS Barham, one of the newest battleships in the fleet.
For an account of the battle of Jutland, please see our article here. A biographical note on Royal Navy Chaplains, prepared by Rev David Youngson, records that as Henry lay severely wounded with a shattered spine and leg, he was praying for victory. He was brought back to Orkney and died the day after the battle, on 1st June 1916, one of nine chaplains who died.
The following appeared in the Dartmouth Chronicle of Friday June 9th 1916:
There were very many expressions of sympathy, and keen regret, in Dartmouth on Saturday, when it became known that the Rev Henry Dixon Wright, formerly Chaplain at the Royal Naval College, had died of wounds, received in the North Sea Battle.
The late Mr Dixon Wright, after holding curacies at St James', Paddington, and Stoke next Guildford, became Chaplain in the Royal Navy in 1899. From 1907 to the outbreak of war, when he was posted to his Majesty's ship Albemarle, he had been at the Royal Naval College, where he was greatly beloved. The Prince of Wales and Prince Albert were both at the college under his tuition, and were by him prepared for confirmation. In 1911 he was selected as chaplain to his Majesty's ship Medina, in which their Majesties the King and Queen made their voyage to India, and received the MVO and the Durbar medal. He leaves a widow and two infant sons, and was 46 years of age.
Henry is buried at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery, Lyness, Orkney. In Dartmouth, he is commemorated on the Town War Memorial and on the St Saviour's Memorial Board. He is also commemorated at Ridley Hall and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Information Held on Database
|Military Unit:||HMS Barham|
|Date of Death:||01 Jun 1916|
|Age at Death:||46|
|Cause of Death:||Died of wounds|
|Action Resulting in Death:||Battle of Jutland|
|Place of Death:||Orkney|
|Place of Burial:||Lyness Naval Cemetery, Scotland|
|Born or Lived in Dartmouth?||Yes|
|On Dartmouth War Memorial?||Yes|
|On St Saviour's Memorials?||No|
|On St Petrox Memorials?||No|
|On Flavel Church Memorials?||No|
|In Longcross Cemetery?||No|
|In St Clement's Churchyard?||No|
|On a Private Memorial?||No|
|On Another Memorial?||No|