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Biographical entry Wrench, Edward Mason (1833 - 1912)

MVO 1893; MRCS July 17th 1854; FRCS Dec 8th 1870; LSA 1854; JP for Derbyshire

1 July 1833
12 March 1912
General surgeon


Born in London on July 1st, 1833, the son of the Rev T W Wrench, Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill; studied at St Thomas's Hospital, where he was Assistant Resident Accoucheur. He received a commission as Assistant Surgeon to the 34th Foot dated Nov 3rd, 1854, went to the Crimea, and for three months did duty in the trenches with the 28th Regiment. He was present at the assault on the Quarries and at the two attacks on the Redan, on the second of which only half of the assault party returned uninjured. He was in charge of wounded from Inkerman at the hospital in the Russian Military School, Balaclava, and afterwards was present at the capture of Sebastopol on Sept 8th, 1855. He was mentioned in dispatches and received the Crimean Medal with Clasps, also the Turkish Medal. The dispatches mentioned his courage, coolness, and professional skill under very heavy fire at the Redan; in his hospital duty he was associated with Miss Florence Nightingale.

On his return to England Wrench was transferred on Aug 22nd, 1856, to the 12th Lancers, and went out to Madras in medical charge of two squadrons. The regiment was at Bangalore at the outbreak of the Mutiny, and Wrench joined a detachment, which marched north through Central India, to prevent the mutineers from advancing south. The march, after eight months, led up to the Battle of Banda, where 500 rebels were killed, and to the capture of the Palace of the Rajah of Rewah, whence a million pounds' worth of gold and silver were carried away in forty carts. This was the largest capture of prize money during the Mutiny, a private soldier's share being £75, and a Colonel's reaching £3,000.

Wrench re-embarked for home with a portion of the regiment from Calcutta in April, 1860, and served with the regiment until appointed Surgeon to the seventh Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth when he resigned on Dec 2nd, 1862, after receiving the Indian Medal and Clasps.

He lived at Park Lodge, Baslow, and attended the Duke and the guests, including the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, who decorated him as a Member of the Victorian Order for long military as well as personal service in 1893. Wrench was allowed to take a photograph of the King.

He joined in 1864 the 3rd Battalion of the Derbyshire Volunteers, serving as Ensign and Lieutenant until 1870, when he was gazetted Surgeon. He retired in 1900 with the rank of Surgeon Lieutenant-Colonel. He also became President of the Midland Branch of the British Medical Association, and during the Sheffield Meeting in 1908 conducted a party over Chatsworth. He was much interested in local archaeology and geology, and was a President of the Bakewell Naturalist Field Club.

Sir George Malin, in 1919, described an interesting series of reminiscences of the Crimea given by Wrench in relation to Simpson's pictorial record of the war.

Wrench practised latterly in partnership with his nephew, R H Jackson, of Bakewell, and with his son-in-law, R S C Edleston, of Baslow. He also acted as Surgeon to the Whitworth Hospital, Darley Dale, as Certifying Factory Surgeon, and Medical Referee. He had been appointed JP in 1898, and was accustomed to bicycle to Magistrates' meetings. On March 12th, 1912, whilst passing through Buxton, he died from heart strain.

He married in 1861 his cousin, Anne Eliza, daughter of William Kirke, of East Markham Hall, Nottinghamshire, and celebrated with her their golden wedding in 1911. Of their four children two sons became MRCS. He was a man of military bearing to the last. There is a good photograph in the College collection of Mr and Mrs Wrench taken at their golden wedding.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Johnston's RAMC Roll, No 5382].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England