BRERETON, Sir William (by 1521-59), of Brereton, Cheshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1521, 1st s. of William Brereton by Anne, da. of Sir William Booth of Dunham. m. settlement 20 Jan. 1539, Jane, da. of Sir Peter Warburton of Arley, 1s. Sir William 5da. suc. gd.-fa. 1541. Kntd. 11 May 1544.2

Offices Held

J.p. Cheshire 1547, q. 1558/59; sheriff 1548-9, 1552-3, commr. chantries, Cheshire, Lancs. and Chester 1548, relief, Cheshire 1550.3


William Brereton was the grandson and heir of his namesake the lord chief justice of Ireland, who died there in 1541. He was a royal ward until he had livery in June 1542 of his grandfather’s estates. Little has been discovered about his comparatively short life. If he was the ‘Mr. Brewton’ who was one of the Earl of Hertford’s dinner guests on 7 Dec. 1539 he had early come to the notice of his future commander in the field. In Hertford’s Scottish campaign of 1544 he was captain of 100 men and he was among those knighted by Hertford at Leith. That this distinction was to have a bearing on his election to Parliament three years later is suggested by his having shared it with every other knight of the shire for Cheshire in the Parliaments of 1545, 1547 and March 1553, although they also had in common their membership of the small number of leading families which governed the county at this time. Of Brereton’s role in the proceedings of the Commons nothing is known but he seems to have stood well not only with Hertford, who as Duke of Somerset and Protector must have approved his appointment as sheriff in 1548, but with Somerset’s victorious rival Northumberland, who did the same in 1552. During this second term Brereton was in charge of two elections, and the return at the second of his young brother-in-law Edward Fitton bespeaks his influence.4

Brereton’s own absence from the subsequent Parliaments of Mary’s reign was probably due to the ascendancy of men with court connexions rather than to his estrangement from the regime, although he appears to have lost his seat on the county bench and his involvement in a dispute over the mayoralty with the duchy of Lancaster’s steward at Congleton may have brought him into disfavour. The close of the reign saw him in action again on the border. In January 1558 he and the sheriff of Cheshire were ordered to levy men to be sent to Berwick and he was to lead them: he took part in some successful engagements, notably at Coldingham, and he and his fellow captains received letters of thanks from the Privy Council on 7 Sept. 1558.5

Brereton died on 26 Aug. 1559 and was buried at Brereton on 6 Sept. His widow was granted the wardship of their son William in May 1560 and shortly afterwards she married Sir Lawrence Smith.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: P. S. Edwards


  • 1. Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from grant of livery. Ormerod, Cheshire, iii. 89; Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 42; Arley Chs. ed. Beamont, 48.
  • 3. CPR, 1547-8, p. 81; 1548-9, p. 135; 1553, p. 358.
  • 4. Ormerod, iii. 85; LP Hen. VIII, xvii, xviii, xx, xxi; HMC Bath, iv. 66, 70, 72, 341.
  • 5. Congleton, ed. Stephens, 65-67; APC, vi. 396.
  • 6. C142/120/19; Ormerod, iii. 89; CPR, 1558-60, p. 339.