BRERETON, Sir William (1550-1631), of Brereton, Cheshire

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

b. 5 Feb. 1550,1 o.s. of Sir William Brereton† and Jane, da. of Sir Peter Warburton of Arley, Cheshire.2 educ. Oxf. BA 1568; L. Inn 1569.3 m. (with 1,000 marks), Margaret (d.7 Apr. 1597), da. of Sir John Savage of Rock Savage, Cheshire, 4s. d.v.p. 4da. (3 d.v.p.).4 suc. fa. 1559; kntd. 1 May 1588;5 cr. Bar. Brereton [I] 11 May 1624.6 d. 1 Oct. 1631.7

Offices Held

Master of revels, L. Inn 1571.8

J.p. Cheshire 1573-d.,9 sheriff 1581-2,10 commr. musters 1595, 1596,11 collector, Privy Seal loan 1604-5;12 commr. sewers, port of Chester and River Dee 1607, Chester 1626-at least 1627,13 subsidy 1608, 1621-22, 1624,14 aid, Prince Henry 1609,15 Forced Loan 1627;16 dep. lt. Cheshire by 1608-at least 1619.17


Brereton’s marriage to Margaret Savage united two of the leading Cheshire gentry families. When Brereton constructed his magnificent pile he based the design upon his father-in-law’s house, Rock Savage.18 Brereton served in the Netherlands in 1588 and was knighted there by Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester. During the 1590s he was in Cheshire, when he was active in dealing with Privy Council requests relating to the Irish war. His status within the county was sufficient to ensure his election as knight of the shire three times.

At the opening of the 1614 Parliament Brereton was named to both the privileges and expiring laws committees (8 April).19 Ten days later he was appointed to the grace bill committee on Wales (to repeal 34 and 35 Hen. VIII, cap. 26 cl. 59), and on 7 May he was named to consider the highways repair measure.20 In the same month his name appears on committee lists for bills concerning continuance of liveries in the Court of Wards (14 May), East Grinstead hospital (16 May), alehouse statutes (31 May) and forcible entries (31 May).21 Brereton was also named to the committee concerning the status of baronets (23 May) and was appointed to the delegation to attend the king on 29 May.22 He made only one recorded speech in 1614, when he urged the House to settle the question of whether to further punish Sir Thomas Parry for interfering in the Stockbridge election (11 May).23

On 6 Feb. 1621 Brereton offered four bills to the Commons, which he formally presented two days later. However, the subject of these measures is uncertain as both the Commons Journal and the ‘X’ diary give different titles for all four.24 Brereton also introduced a bill on 28 Apr. to confirm his right to hold court leets in Malpas, Cheshire.25 This right, which he enjoyed under letters patent issued in 1618, was disputed by Richard Egerton.26 The bill further sought to allow Brereton to hold the court in any town in Broxton hundred.27 At its first reading the measure was criticized by William Noye and John Pym, who considered it too general and a matter determinable by the king rather than Parliament. It was also observed that ‘if the title be good, it need not this confirmation; if bad, we ought not to countenance it’. Brereton offered to defend the bill, but it was ruled that he could not be heard in his own interest and the measure was rejected.28 Brereton was named to bill committees concerning the subsidy (8 Mar.) and the levying of fines in the name of the king (10 March). In addition, he moved to add the Palatinate of Chester to bills dealing with unjust fees in courts of justice (3 May) and alienations (24 May).29

Brereton obtained an Irish barony in 1624, probably by paying the standard rate of £1,500, but he remained active in Cheshire affairs until his death.30 He drew up his will on 20 May 1630, when he noted that he was in good health but ‘dreading the uncertain hour of death’. He died at his house on 1 Oct. 1631. In accordance with his will the bulk of his estate passed to his grandson, William Brereton, as all his sons had predeceased him. His executors included Sir William Brereton, 1st bt.*, while William Booth* acted as an overseer.31 His grandson represented Cheshire in the Cavalier Parliament and his great-grandson sat for Newton in 1659 and Bossiney in the Convention.

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Chris Kyle


  • 1. CP, ii. 300; WARD 9/138, f. 143v.
  • 2. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 42; G. Ormerod, Hist. Cheshire, iii. 89.
  • 3. Al. Ox.; LI Admiss.
  • 4. Vis. Cheshire (Harl. Soc. xviii), 42; C142/120/19; A.L. Moir, Brereton Hall, 15.
  • 5. Shaw, Knights of Eng. ii. 86.
  • 6. CP.
  • 7. Cheshire and Lancs. Fun. Certs. ed. J.P. Rylands (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. vi.) 34-5.
  • 8. LI Black Bks. i. 380.
  • 9. Eg. 2345, f. 38; C231/4, p. 165; APC, 1627-8, p. 284.
  • 10. List of Sheriffs comp. A. Hughes (PRO, L. and I. ix), 18.
  • 11. HMC Hatfield, v. 524; CSP Dom. 1595-7, p. 295.
  • 12. E401/2585, ff. 135-6.
  • 13. C181/2, f. 46v; 181/3, ff. 215, 237v.
  • 14. SP14/31/1; C212/22/20, 21, 23.
  • 15. SP14/43/107.
  • 16. T. Rymer, Foedera, viii. pt. 2, p. 144.
  • 17. SP14/33, f. 4v; 14/108, f. 28.
  • 18. Moir, 15.
  • 19. Procs. 1614 (Commons), 33, 35.
  • 20. Ibid. 98, 170.
  • 21. Ibid. 235, 258, 392, 394.
  • 22. Ibid. 323, 377.
  • 23. Ibid. 205.
  • 24. CD 1621, ii. 27-8, musters; charges in gaols; rogues and vagabonds; and seamarks and mariners; CJ, i. 510b, 513a, highways; bridges; horses and armour; and payment of the king’s revenues into the Exch.
  • 25. CD 1621, v. 353.
  • 26. STAC 8/57/16.
  • 27. CD 1621, vii. 239-43.
  • 28. CJ, i. 595a.
  • 29. Ibid. iii. 149, 295; CJ, i. 544a, 548b, 606a, 626a.
  • 30. C.R. Mayes, ‘Sale of Peerages’, JMH, xxix. 35 n. 85; APC, 1616-17, p. 386; 1627-8, p. 284; CSP Dom. 1625-6, p. 30.
  • 31. Wills and Inventories ed. G.J. Piccope (Chetham Soc. liv), 188-9; Cheshire Inquisitions (Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lxxxiv), 69-73; Cheshire and Lancs. Fun. Certs. 184.