Claud William Wright

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Claud William Wright CB (9 January 1917, Ellenborough, Yorkshire, England – 15 February 2010, Burford, Oxfordshire, England), aka Willy Wright, was a senior British civil servant who was also an expert in the disciplines of geology, palaeontology, and archaeology.[1]


He was educated at Charterhouse and Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford, he was influenced by the geologist W. J. Arkell, an interest that became a serious hobby.[2] His professional career was in the War Office/Ministry of Defence, where he reached the rank of Deputy Secretary.[3]

In 1971, he transferred to the Ministry of Education and there was involved with the establishment of the first Ministry of Arts. In these posts, he worked directly with Margaret Thatcher and Lord Eccles.

It was in Wright's hobbies where he made his greatest mark. Whilst working as a civil servant he was, between 1956–58, President of the Geologists' Association, but after he "retired" in 1976 he could devote his time to his interests. From 1977 to 1983, he was a Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.[2]

He was married to Alison Readman with four daughters and a son.


For his work with the Civil Service work he was awarded the CB (1969).[4] He won many prizes, medals, and a Fellowships as an Hon. Associate of the British Museum) for his hobby work.


He published many articles on such diverse topics as ammonites,[5] starfish, invertebrates, Cretaceous crabs, and the Bridlington Giant Flying Lizard.[6]


Wright's collection was split between the Natural History Museum (25,500 pieces in all) and the Wright Library in the Oxford University Museum.[7][8]

Ferriby boats[edit]

While walking with his brother beside the River Humber on holiday, Wright found three Bronze Age Ferriby Boats, one of which is now in the National Maritime Museum.[8]


  1. ^ See International Palaeontological Union (I.P.U.) (1968). Westermann, G.E.G., ed. Directory of Palaeontologists of the World (excl. Soviet Union & continental China) (2 ed.). Hamilton, Ontario: McMaster University. pp. 127, 137, 186, 188, 191. Retrieved 21 December 2016 – via Internet Archive. 
  2. ^ a b Jim Kennedy, "Obituaries: Willy Wright (1917–2010)". Wolfson College Record, 2010 Archived 22 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., pages 34–36.
  3. ^ "No. 34711". The London Gazette. 17 October 1939. p. 6962. 
  4. ^ "No. 44740". The London Gazette (Supplement). 20 December 1968. p. 3. 
  5. ^ Few paleontologists had such an all-encompassing command of a major group of fossils as Wright had of Cretaceous ammonoids. See Wright, C. W. with J.H. Callomon and M.K. Howarth (1996), Mollusca 4 Revised, Cretaceous Ammonoidea, vol. 4, in Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, Part L (Roger L. Kaesler et el. eds.), Boulder, Colorado: The Geological Society of America & Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, p.V. This impressive volume had been compiled by him over a period of three and a half decades while working as an "amateur dependent on private resources" and was published in 1996.
  6. ^ 'Giant flying lizard that once stalked Bridlington'. Press cutting from the Leeds Mercury, 16 January 1937.
  7. ^ "L-59394-1097627". The London Gazette. No. 59394. 19 April 2010. p. 6938. 
  8. ^ a b Shovelton, Patrick (8 March 2010), "Claud Wright: Senior civil servant who was also a leading expert in geology, palaeontology and archaeology — Obituary", The Independent, retrieved 14 July 2017