Mary Wright Alsop, American, 1740–1829


Middletown, Connecticut, Newport, Rhode Island

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Mary Wright was born in Middletown, Connecticut in 1740 to Joseph Wright (1704-1775) and Hannah (Gilbert) Wright (1718-1804). Her maternal grandparents were Nathaniel Gilbert (1689-1756) and Hannah (Allen) Gilbert (1699-1724) of Middletown. She traveled to Newport for school in the late 1750s, possibly the school of Sarah Osborn.

Mary completed a number of needlework projects in Newport. These included at least two pictures after Wenceslaus Hollar's 1644 print series The Four Seasons, and various pastoral scenes. In addition to these pictures, Mary embroidered functional pieces such as a pocketbook for her father and a seat cover for a corner chair. When her husband Richard Alsop (1726-1776) died, his probate inventory recorded this chair as, "1 Round Mahogany Chair with Workd Bottom," and valued it at two pounds five shillings. The inventory also included eight mahogany chairs and two fire screens with Mary's embroidery.

She was painted by itinerant portrait painter Ralph Earl in 1792.

Mary died in 1829.(1)

Benjamin W. Colman

1. Glee Krueger, "A Middletown Cameo: Mary Wright Alsop and her Needlework," The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin 52, no. 3-4 (Summer/Fall 1987): 125-136, 155.