June 27, 2012, by Linda Shaw
Doctors, Diaries and Descendants
Perusing the diaries written by a doctor serving with the British Army in the Crimea and in India in the 1850s is a fascinating experience for anyone, but there is an added thrill when those diaries were written by your great great grandfather! This was the case for a recent visitor from Wales to Manuscripts and Special Collections, who came to see diaries, letters and photographs of her ancestor, Edward Mason Wrench, 100 years after his death. After leaving the army, Wrench settled in the village of Baslow, Derbyshire, becoming medical practitioner to residents in the surrounding area. He also attended upon the Dukes of Devonshire and their guests, on occasion including royalty, at the nearby Chatsworth House.
Dr Wrench amazingly wrote in his diary almost every day from 1856 until his death in March 1912. There are very few dates he missed even when travelling, suffering from illness or coping with family bereavements. These daily writings, together with other papers in the Wrench Collection, provide insights into many aspects of Victorian life, particularly family relationships and patriarchal responsibility. They also concern education, travel, social, cultural and sporting activities and provide comments upon local and national events. Moreover, many of the daily reports concern the ailments of his patients and the treatments he administered. They demonstrate the demands upon a country doctor at this time, travelling considerable distances by horse and cart to visit the sick, in all weathers and at all hours, particularly in crises such as the influenza epidemic of 1891.
Interestingly, several of Dr Wrench’s descendants have followed in his footsteps and pursued careers in the medical profession but it is assumed that none have surpassed his achievement of recording their lives in around 18,000 daily diary entries!
The catalogue to the Wrench collection is available to view online and the collection can be viewed in the Manuscripts and Special Collections Reading Room at the King’s Meadow Campus.
Most interesting…………..I am also his gt gt Granddaughter and have his medals and ceremonial sword as seen in some of his photographs. Would love to hear from any other decendants
I was amazed to find that thereare other distant relatives who are related to dr edwawrd mason wrench as Iam also agreat great great granddaughter who also was in the medical proffession and would like to contact any one with further information.
Hello……………please do contact me
It is great that we have been able to put Heather, Liz and Barbara all in touch with each other!
Hi Liz, hope you are still following this blog. See my recent comment!
I would like to obtain copies of photographs of Edward M. Wrench in his various uniforms, and if possible a good photograph of his medals and sword.
Ellensburg WA USA
Mr McCleary, thank you for your request for copies, we will contact you shortly via email with further information.
Sarah Colborne, Assistant Archivist
Dear Ms. Colborne,
I, too, would be very interested in obtaining copies of any photographs relating to Edward Wrench during the Central India campaign of the Mutiny 1857-1858…should any exist in the collection. My interest is the Kirke family and specifically Henry Kirke of the Bengal Army – both father and son.
Thanks in advance for a reply.
Wm. Nanny, North Carolina
Mr Nanny, thank you for your enquiry; we will contact you shortly via email with further information.
Sarah Colborne, Archivist (Collections)
Hi All; How about a family Reunion? I am also a great great grand daughter of Edward Mason Wrench. I was raised by My great grandfather Kirke Henry Wrench, in Michigan, USA. I am most interested in meeting family. Am considering visiting UK to review the EM Wrench papers. As a registered nurse, am especially interested in EMS connections with Florence Nightengale.
Hope to hear from folks!
Carol Plank, Montana, USA
Hello,Carol have just read your blog .I am also a relative of Edward mason wrench and will be visiting the grave on July 1st as it is my birthday also. And yes am a retired nurse ha! My grandmother war Muriel Meryln wrench Edwards granddaughter . I have also traced his father who was a clergyman in London at st micheal,s corn hill London and remarkably his father was a clergyman in the church opposite around the time of the great fire of London at pudding lane all interesting stuff . Sadly both my mother and grandmother died in there early 40 and so have little knowledge of the wrench / kirks family only what I have been able to retrieve Would love to hear from you . yours sincerely
Hi that’s me in the picture. Loved reading the diaries of my great great grandfather. I go up to Baslow, Derby once a year to visit chatsworth house and to walk around the lovely village where he lived
I am currently working and researching Edward Wrench’s diaries and letters, he is an absolutely fascinating man and would be interested in any family history, letters, or photographs not in the Special Collections. The diaries are incredibly wordy but form a fascinating historical prism of his professional and family life
A fascinating man with occasionally dreadful handwriting, if I remember rightly! Has deciphering the diaries become easier? Dr Wrench was a real character and we’d love to hear how your research gets on.
Yes the handwriting has become much easier, have now transcribed around 600,000 words and rising!
I am also interested in Edward Mason Wrench, i collect victorian cavalry officers medals and have one to Chandos Frederick Clifton Captain 12th Lancers with the Central India clasp. It looks like he was a close friend of Dr Wrench as i have copies from Nottingham University of several letters he wrote to him. I visited the Wrench grave in Baslow last year as we often stay in Macclesfield to visit Buxton and Baslow etc. The grave is in reasonable condidtion but could do with a clean and tidy up ( i did remove some rubbish and paper from around the grave ) Captain Clifton was from South Wales i found his grave on find a grave it having been placed there a year or so ago.
Dr Wrench has an unusual stone which is still in reasonable condidtio after over 100 yrs. If anyone finds any more information concerning these two men i would be very interested. I am no relation to Dr Wrench, just interested in him as an officer who served with the 12th Lancers during the Indian Mutiny.
I wondered whether you would be interested in my writing a blog post for the special collectiond about the first 10 years of Edward Wrenches life in Baslow
Thank you for the offer – someone will contact you shortly about this.
Hi. Do contact me by email. I’m a great-great grand daughter of EMW and have his medals and sword plus many original letters and postcards sent to Diana his granddaughter.
Hello! Please contact me by E-mail as I have compiled the most comprehensive history ever about this family and would be delighted to share information with each other.
Dear Peter I would really like to correspond with you about the Wrench family especially as I have now transcribed a significant number of the diaries and continue to work on the others