Papers of John Wright, c 1880-c 1950, agricultural advisor, Egypt

Scope and Content

  • Diaries, 1903-1913;
  • Workbooks, 1907-1919;
  • Photographs, c1900s;
  • Plans, c1900s;
  • Programme, 1895;
  • Photocopies of certificate,s 1901-1902;
  • Medals, 1901-1912.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Wright was born in Hutchestown, Glasgow around 1880. He initially worked as a shepherd until his employer, who recognised Wright's great ability, contacted the Principal of the Agricultural College in Edinburgh and asked if he knew of a suitable post for Wright. Two alternatives were offered - he could take up the post of manager of the gardens for the Lord Cecil in the south of England or take the post of farm manager of the agricultural college in Cairo, Egypt. He chose the latter and started work in Egypt in 1895. John Wright had very high principles and had a disagreement with the Principal of the College over a matter and he was consequently removed from his post. With the help of his mentor Viscount Cromer the Khedive offered him the position of manager of the Royal Gardens and was later promoted to Chief Inspector of the Royal Farms. He worked as Inspector General of Khedivial Estates between 1903 and 1911, and afterwards at the Department of Agriculture as an Inspector of Giza, Galioubia, Fayum and Beni Suef mudiras (provinces). During his time in Egypt he appears to have lived in Port de Koubbeh.

While he was in charge of the Royal Farms Wright invented the Koubbeh plough for which he was awarded two gold medals by the Turkish government in  1901  in recognition of his service. He performed his role to the great satisfaction of the Khedive (head of state) and was rewarded with two medallions presented by the Turkish Government in Cairo.

Very little is known about his personal life, although occasionally more personal details are included in his diaries. Entries reveal his birthday to be 18th August, that he married Mary Hiddleston on 28th August 1908, and that his father died on 6th January 1904 at Townhead, Dumfriesshire. His wife and daughter Catherine, who was aged two, returned to Dumfries in November 1911 for the birth of their daughter Jenny, and he first saw the child 9 months later on a home visit. Various visits to Dumfries, Glasgow and the West of Scotland are recorded in the diaries. Nothing more is known about his life in Dumfries after he returned from Egypt. He was still alive, but retired, in 1933 when his daughter Catherine was in her final year studying medicine at the University of Glasgow.

It is assumed that Wright did not work again after he returned from Egypt and continued to live in Dumfries until approximately 1946 when he and his wife moved into the house owned by his two daughters in Sheffield. He lived there until his death in c.1950.


Arranged chronologically within record series.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : Ian Battersby on behalf of Dr Catherine Hutton Wright, MB ChB, DPH, daughter of John Wright : June 2004 : ACCN 2582

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

None known

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements


Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Held with John Wright's family until deposit with GUAS


None expected

Related Material

No related material

Location of Originals

This material is original. Certificates relating to medals awarded to John Wright are held by the depositor


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Elva McLean, 05 July 2006.

Amended by Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 18 April 2008