Papers of Edward M. Wrench (1833-1912) of Baslow, Derbyshire, surgeon, 1837-1956

Scope and Content

Edward Wrench's papers reflect his strong family ties, and Victorian attitudes regarding the importance of maintaining the integrity of the family. The papers also reflect his many interests in life as well as aspects of the medical profession, his career in the Army and events of national and local importance. Wrench's prolific writing has produced a vast number of letters (many illustrated with sketches) to friends, family and associates, and almost daily entries in the fifty seven diaries he kept until his death in 1912.

He was also a great hoarder of material, preserving a vast miscellany of letters, papers, photographs and objects relating to his life, his family and his times. The correspondence spans the period 1854-1911. There are letters sent and received while serving in the Crimea and India, and a large number from his years in Baslow. These include letters to and from his brothers, children and grandchildren, as well as members of the Cavendish and Manners (Dukes of Rutland) families.

The diaries run in a complete sequence from 1856-1912. Entries relate to matters of local and national importance, and to family and medical concerns. Wrench inserted into the diaries various letters, printed papers, photographs and other documents relevant to the written entries and current events. There are also two diaries of Edward's son William Mervyn Wrench, from 1886-1887 and 1889-1890. The former relates mainly to William's stay in New Zealand.

There is a small amount of genealogical material relating mainly to the Kirkes of East Markham, Nottinghamshire, with which the Wrench family were closely connected through various marriages. This material includes correspondence and pedigrees.

There are manuscript and typescript notebooks from 1863-1910, which include reminiscences of the Crimean War and account books.

Printed material covers newspaper cuttings, illustrations, pamphlets and books. Subject matter includes London, the Crimea, obituaries and local affairs with which Wrench was involved.

There are a number of photographs 1858-1911, although many are undated. They feature members of the Wrench family, images of Derbyshire, and pictures taken on holidays. These are complemented by a small number of sketches by Edward Wrench, undertaken at home and abroad.

Administrative / Biographical History

Edward Mason Wrench was born on 1 July 1833, the son of a clergyman, Thomas William Wrench. Edward was educated at the Merchant Taylor's School, London and then became an apprentice at St Thomas's Hospital, London. In November 1853 he joined the Army to serve in the Crimea. He was placed in medical charge of a portion of the hospital at Balaklava, taking care of the wounded from Inkerman. From December 1854 until the fall of Sevastopol in September 1855 he was at the front, serving in the trenches opposite the Redan. He was present at the capture of the Quarries on June 7, the failure of the assault on the Redan on June 18 and the final capture of Sevastopol in September.

Edward returned to England in July 1856, but was soon transferred to the 12th Royal Lancers, arriving in Madras in December of that year. He served with the regiment throughout the whole of the Indian Mutiny, being present at the affair of Kubrai, the battle of Banda and numerous smaller engagements, when in pursuit of Tantia Topee and the other rebels.

On his return to England in 1860, Edward was in medical charge of the left wing of the 12th Royal Lancers, serving in Leeds and Aldershot until his withdrawal from the army in 1862. At this time he became surgeon to William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire. He took up residence at Park Lodge in Baslow, Derbyshire having married his cousin Annie Eliza Kirke, daughter of William Kirke, J.P., of East Markham, Nottinghamshire, the previous year.

Despite his withdrawal from active army life in 1862, he did not sever his contacts with the Army completely. In 1863 he joined the Third Battalion Derbyshire Volunteers as ensign, being promoted to Surgeon in 1870, Surgeon-Lieutenant-Colonel in 1892 and receiving the Volunteer Decoration in 1893. He retired in 1900.

From 1862 until his death in 1912, Edward Wrench cared for the sick in the vicinity of Baslow. He attended to three Dukes of Devonshire and other members of the Cavendish family, various members of the Duke of Rutland's family when staying at Longshaw Lodge, and King Edward VII on his visits to Chatsworth. He received the decoration of the Victorian Order in 1907 in recognition of his services.

In addition to his professional medical duties and his Army servies, Edward Wrench occupied a number of important positions during his life, including consulting surgeon to Lady Whitworth's Hospital and trustee of the Whitworth Institute, Darley Dale, Derbyshire, honorary life member of the St John Ambulance Association; liveryman of the Drapers Company, London; Derbyshire County Magistrate from 1898; churchwarden at Baslow Parish Church; President of the Bakewell and District Naturalists' Field Club; President of the Midland Branch of the British Medical Association.

As the eldest son of a large family, Edward felt a great responsibility for his several brothers, especially after the death of their father in 1875 and their mother in 1876. He maintained a close relationship with most of them, despite the distance between them, by constant letter writing and visiting whenever possible. He also had seven children of his own, three of whom he nursed during their long illnesses prior to their deaths. He also had several grandchildren and one great-grandchild born during his lifetime.


The papers are arranged in four separate groups or sub fonds which denote the different provenance of the material from different family members Some of the material within the separate groups, particularly that in the Wr sub-fonds and the Wre sub-fonds, is very closely related.

Material is arranged within the four groups:

- Papers of Edward Mason Wrench deposited by Francis Anthony Wrench, grandson of Edward Mason Wrench and subsequent members of his family (GB 0159 Wr).

- Papers of Edward Mason Wrench deposited by Edward Gillam Wrench, grandson of Edward Mason Wrench (GB 0159 Wre)

- Papers mainly relating to the Kirke family deposited by a member of the Kirke family (GB 0159 Wr Ki)

- Papers relating to the settlement of the estates of Edward Mason Wrench and his wife, Annie Eliza Wrench and to the settlement of the affairs of the Kirke family with regard to their estates at East Markham, Nottinghamshire.transferred from the family solicitors Brooke Taylor of Bakewell, Derbyshire (GB 0159 Wr/BT)

Because of constraints of size, the online catalogue to these collections has been divided into five separate sections: Wr C and Wr D-X (the first collection), Wre, Wr Ki and Wr/BT. Users should follow the 'Related Record' links below to browse through each section separately.

Access Information

Accessible to all registered readers.

Other Finding Aids

Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

In the Reading Room, King's Meadow Campus:

3 Typescript Catalogues

At the National Register of Archives, London:

3 Typescript Catalogues


Five separate catalogues available through the website of Manuscripts and Special Collections, Manuscripts Online Catalogue: WrC, WrDX (the first collection), Wre, WrKi and WrBT.

The typescript catalogues are also available online on the national A2A (Access to Archives) website.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies can be supplied for educational use and private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections (email

Custodial History

The papers came to the University library from four different family members during the years 1960-1981. There are some further small accruals..

Related Material

Kirke of East Markham, Nottinghamshire (Ki), and the various sub-fonds and series making up the Wrench collections (Wr, WrC, WrDX, Wre, WrBT and WrKi).