Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wrey, Bourchier (d.1696)

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WREY, Sir BOURCHIER (d. 1696), duellist, son of Sir Chichester Wrey, second baronet, by Anne, widow of Lionel Cranfield, earl of Middlesex, and daughter and coheiress of Edward Bourchier, fourth earl of Bath (d. 1636). The Wreys had lived for generations at Trebigh, Cornwall, but by the marriage of Sir Chichester with Lady Anne they became possessors of Tawstock, thenceforth the family seat.

Sir Bourchier Wrey commanded a regiment of horse after the Restoration, and served under the Duke of Monmouth. He was M.P. for Liskeard from 1678 to 1679, was returned for the county of Devon 1685, and sat for Liskeard 1689 to 1696. He fought a duel with Thomas Bulkeley, M.P. for Beaumaris, in Hyde Park on 4 Feb. 1691–2, in which Luttrell notes that of the six men engaged as principals and seconds five were M.P.s. Two of the seconds were slightly wounded. In May 1694 he fought another duel with James Praed of Trevethowe, M.P. for St. Ives, at Falmouth, and ‘was run through the body, Mr. Praed being only hurt slightly in the face.’ On 1 June he was reported dead of his wound, but lived until 21 July 1696, when Luttrell notes that Sir Bourchier Wrey and Captain Pitts, both M.P.s, are dead. He was buried in Tawstock church. He married Florence, daughter of Sir John Rolle.

His grandson, Sir Bourchier Wrey (1714–1784), dilettante, born in 1714, became fifth baronet on the death of his father, Sir Bourchier Wrey, in 1726. His mother, Diana, was daughter of John Rolle of Stevenstone. After attending Winchester College, he matriculated from New College, Oxford, on 21 Oct. 1732. He was elected M.P. for Barnstaple, 20 Jan. 1747–8, and became a member of the Society of Dilettanti in 1742. He went to Bremen, Hamburg, and Lübeck in 1752 as a delegate of the ‘Society for carrying on the Herring Fishery,’ and succeeded in these ports and at Copenhagen in arranging better terms for the English fishermen. He rebuilt the pier at Ilfracombe in 1761. There are several of his letters among the Newcastle correspondence in the British Museum manuscripts. In them he speaks of his zeal for his majesty and his ministers; asks for a living in Devon for his brother as ‘a proof that those that exert themselves towards the support of Liberty in Times of Confusion and Rebellion are entitled to its benefits in the days of Tranquillity,’ dated November 1748, alluding apparently to ‘the '45’ when there were some disturbances in Exeter. He died on 13 April 1784, and was buried in Tawstock church, where is a pyramidal monument to him and his two wives, for the first of whom there is a long Latin epitaph in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ of 1751. He married, first, in 1749, Mary, daughter of John Edwards of Highgate (she died without issue in 1751); and secondly, in 1755, Ellen, daughter of John Thresher of Bradford in Wiltshire. He was succeeded as sixth baronet by his eldest son Bourchier. His portrait was painted by George Knapton in 1744; he is represented with a punch-bowl, on which is inscribed ‘Dulce est desipere in loco.’

[Luttrell's Brief Relation; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Lysons's Devon; Cust and Colvin's History of the Society of Dilettanti; Notes and Queries, 5th ser. viii. 473.]

E. L. R.