Indian Mutiny Medal, bar Relief of Lucknow, Lieutenant Charles J. Wrench, 23rd Royal Welch or Welsh Fusiliers, Accidentally wounded at Cawnpore and Specially presented to HM Queen Victoria in 1858.
Officially impressed: “LIEUt CHAS I. WRENCH, 1st Bn 23rd R. W. FUSrs.” Middle initial stamped as I, I & J being interchangeable in the period.
Mostly unworn condition due to his early death. Some toning and lustre
Entitlement confirmed on the roll for the single clasp for Relief of Lucknow.
As a young Ensign, Charles James Wrench fought in the Indian Mutiny according to his service records he had “Joined the Army at Lucknow from 13th November 1857 and was present at the Relief of Lucknow and defeat of the Gwalior Contingent at Canwpore as an Ensign Gen Sir Colin Campbell Commanding.
Returning home, he was part of a small number of officers who were personally presented to the Queen at a Levee at St James Palace, being presented to Her Majesty by General Sir Fenwick Williams.
one of 2 of the 23rd RWF Officers presented, the other being Ensign Graham who was presented by Major G Graham, and had been the cause of the bullet that had struck them both.
Getting an invitation to one of Queen Victoria’s exclusive Levee’s at St James Palace, which was where she held the Men’s only Levee was no easy feat, upon announcement of the upcoming event, every social climber in London would put their name down with the Lord Chamberlain, although they could not do it by themselves, a previous honouree or well connected man would have to vouch for them and give a reason for a meeting with the Queen.
On this day a small number of Military Officers were invited, to celebrate recent promotions as well as a chance for the Queen to meet some of her returning Officer’s from the India and China station who were serving in the ongoing war.
An Ensign at the time, Wrench was present by Gen Sir W.F. Williams as a “23rd Royal Welsh Fusilier returned from Lucknow and Cawnpore”.
Wrench would be dressed in his most formal attire, and upon meeting the Queen, he would kneel and her hand would be placed on his, when he would have the opportunity to “Kiss the Royal Hand”.
In the aftermath of the Second Battle of Cawnpore, it appears that Ensigns Wrench and Graham were exploring the camp of the Gwalior Contingent and found themselves in the hospital being dangerously wounded, according to a letter that Lieutenant Utterton had written to his sister Conny from the Camp at Cawnpore on 15th December 1857, he had gone to see both Wrench and Graham in hospital, the entry reading:
“The former trying yesterday (7th December) to break a Sepoy’s Musket he had picked up loaded, by foolishly hitting it on the wheel of a hickory had discharged it – and sent the ball through his stomach, coming out behind.”
His papers record he was “Dangerously wounded on 7th December 1857 by an Accident in the Gwalior Camp.”
Wrench was promoted to Lieutenant on 4th June 1858 and returned to India for further service with the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Notably both his appointment as Ensign and Promotion to Lieutenant were made without purchase.
He had seen previous overseas service in Malta from 18th March 1856 until 22nd July 1856.
Service with the Bengal Establishment from 21st September 1857 until his death on 15th March 1861. (apart from a small break at home when he was introduced to the Queen)
He died at Lucknow on 15th March 1861, only 26 years old.
“On March 15, at Lucknow, of smallpox, aged 25, Lieut Charles James Wrench, of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, third son of the late Reverend Dr Wrench, Vicar of Salehurst, Sussex.” – Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 210 1861.
Lieutenant Charles James Wrench came from a distinguished Family, born on 17th July 1835 in Hurst Green Sussex. Baptised in Salehurst on 11th October 1835, where his father was Vicar. Son of Rev Dr JG Wrench and Eliza Mary Wrench nee Brant.
His father Reverend Dr Jacob George Wrench was a well regarded Vicar of Salehurst, Sussex. Unusually he was also a D.C.L., Doctor in Civil Law from Trinity College, Cambridge, and Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Sussex and had also been the Chaplain to H.R.H. The Duke of Sussex.
One of his brothers, W.H. Wrench CMG, was the British Consul at Constantinople where he died during 1896 after a distinguished career. In 1860 he had witnesses a massacre of Christians at Damascus.
1851 Census records a 15 year old Charles J Wrench as a Pupil at Clapham Grammar School.
Photo of Lt Wrench the fine work of user “PYW” on Findagrave.com who has traced back the history of the Wrench Family to his Great Great Grandfather Thomas Wrench (1715-1743).