Sir John Evelyn Leslie Wrench was born in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland in 1882. His father was the Rt. Hon. Frederick Stringer Wrench and his mother, Charlotte Mary Bellingham, sister of Sir Henry Bellingham, 4th Baronet.
Wrench’s interest in the British Empire and global affairs began at a young age. From the age of five, he was an avid reader of Army and Navy Store catalogues. He later attended Eton College, before travelling the continent to learn languages. Inspired by the picture postcards he’d seen in Germany, he returned and set up a postcard publishing business. It soon became the largest of its kind in England.
Wrench’s enterprising spirit was much admired, especially by British newspaper pioneer Lord Northcliffe. In 1904, Wrench accepted an offer from Northcliffe to become editor of The Overseas Daily Mail. However, Wrench was more interested in the development of the Commonwealth than his journalistic success. In his book “Uphill” (1910) Wrench says how, in a moment of epiphany: “I vowed I would devote my life to great causes – to the Empire, to my fellows.”
Fueled by his determination to encourage international understanding, Wrench formed The Royal Over-Seas League as The Overseas Club in 1910. In 1918, it amalgamated with the Patriotic League of Britons Overseas. A later role within the Ministry of Information inspired Wrench to demonstrate his commitment to improving international relations once again. In 1918, he launched the English Speaking Union of the Commonwealth which serves to cement the ties of comradeship between the British Commonwealth and the United States. He died in 1966.