BRERETON (afterwards SALUSBURY), Thomas (d.1756), of Shotwick Park, nr. Chester.
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Family and Education
b. aft. 1680, 3rd s. of Edward Brereton, saddler and innkeeper, of Chester by Mary, da. and coh. of John Fletcher, barber, of Chester. m. (1) bef. 1714, Mary, da. of Brig.-Gen. Henry Trelawny, M.P., of Whitley, Devon, gov. of Plymouth, sis. of Sir Henry Trelawny, 5th Bt., of Trelawny, Cornw., a.-d.-c. to Duke of Marlborough, wid., 4s. (inc. Owen Salusbury Brereton, M.P.), 1da.; (2) 1731 or 1732, Catherine, da. and h. of Salusbury Lloyd of Leadbrook, Flints., s.p. suc. to estates of fa.-in-law 1734 and assumed name of Salusbury 1749.
Commr. for victualling the navy 1729-47; mayor of Liverpool 1733-4.
Brereton contested Chester unsuccessfully in 1722. According to the 1st Lord Egmont, he was
the son of an ordinary fellow who kept an ale-house in Chester, and may, for what I know, be still living. Being bred to clerkship under an attorney, he was by Sir Richard Grosvenor advanced to an employment of about one hundred pounds a year, in return for which he opposed the Grosvenor family in their elections in Cheshire. Afterwards he married a widow of some substance, and employing her money in South Sea, advanced his fortunes. Then delivering himself over to Lord Malpas, he was an agent for him in elections and a busy runner, and under his countenance got to be elected this Parliament for Liverpool, and when in the House gave himself to be entirely the slave of Sir Robert Walpole, and was made use of in the little job works in the House, such as carrying and bringing messages and whispers to and from the Members, for securing their votes on particular questions etc. For this Sir Robert procured him an employment of about five hundred a year, on which occasion his place in Parliament being void, there was a necessity for a new election. He stood, and Sir Thomas Aston having a fair majority on the poll, the mayor returned him, and now Brereton became a petitioner.1
While Brereton’s petition was pending, he wrote to the mayor and burgesses of Liverpool, 5 Jan. 1730:
Notwithstanding the unkind endeavours of some amongst you to remove me from the service of the town, I still look upon myself employed therein by the majority of the burgesses, and I shall be as solicitous in your interests as if I had met with no returns of treachery and ingratitude.
He went on to assure them that he would oppose on their behalf any attempt to force the Liverpool merchants to contribute to the cost of maintaining the African Company’s establishments, adding:
I am very sensible that my appearing in this affair will be injurious to my own private interest, but let the consequence be what it will you may depend upon my zeal and industry in opposing a scheme which so much affects the well being of the town.2
After a bitter struggle his petition was rejected by the House of Commons in spite of the efforts of Walpole, who, Egmont writes,
stayed till the division was over, in order to influence the House for Brereton, but he found there are certain occasions where he cannot carry points; it is this meanness of his (the prostitution of the character of a first minister, in assisting and strenuously supporting the defence of dunghill worms, let their cause be ever so unjust, against men of honour, birth, and fortune, and that in person too), that gains him so much ill-will; formerly, when the first minister appeared in any matter, he did it with gravity, and the honour and service of the Crown appeared to be concerned, but Sir Robert, like the altars of refuge in old times, is the asylum of little unworthy wretches who, submitting to dirty work, endear themselves to him, and get his protection first, and then his favour, which as he is first minister is sure to draw after it the countenance of the court; in the meantime, the world, who know the insignificancy, to say no worse, of these sort of tools, are in indignation to see them preferred and cherished beyond men of character and fortune, and set off in a better light to the King, and this with men of small experience, which are the bulk of a nation, occasions hard thoughts of the Crown itself; whereas in very deed the King can seldom know the merits and character of private persons but from the first minister, who we see has no so great regard for any as for these little pickthanks and scrubs, for whom he risks his character, and the character of his high station, in opposition to the old gentry of the kingdom, and that in matters of right and wrong, in the face of his country, namely, in Parliament.3
In 1732 Brereton acted as Walpole’s agent in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Grosvenor, or Tory, interest in the Chester corporation, causing Lord Barrymore to write, 27 Aug., ‘Brereton’s broken head was what I am sure he must very richly deserve’.4
Brereton recovered both the Liverpool seats in 1734, writing to Walpole on 26 July after the election:
Having before my election had the honour to acquaint you I was of opinion it would be more agreeable to his Majesty and more for the honour and credit of his Administration, to set up one with me for this town, who was a merchant in it, of worth and integrity, and in whom I could confide, than a stranger, and that I had pitched upon Alderman Gildart for that purpose, and though he would be at no great expense, I was resolved to go through it, rather than Lord Derby, assisted by Lord Molyneux, Lord Warrington, and Lord Barrymore should bring in a Tory; not doubting but his Majesty would assist me under such an exigency and to effect so expensive an undertaking. Soon after the election was over, I had the honour to write to you again, telling you of my success, and that upon the two elections (for I had as warm a contest for mayor as for Members among 2,500 electors) I remained a thousand pounds in debt, towards which, I hoped you would be so good to move his Majesty to allow me six hundred pounds, and did flatter myself he would have the goodness to grant it me, having never applied either to his Majesty, or his royal father in the like kind: though I can make it appear I am thirty thousand pounds worse in my fortunes for promoting their interests in these parts: where I am as much the mark of the Jacobites, as you (to your great honour are) in your high station; and I have the vanity to say, no man in England but myself, could have prevented this borough falling into their hands, and it is the only one in the county they have not in the whole, or in half. Yet notwithstanding their united force, the large subscriptions, and the malice with which they persecute me, I will always keep it from them: but therefore I think I should not be sacrificed by friends, and you may imagine Sir, thus in debt, it is a great grief to me that I cannot have the honour of one line from you to signify his Majesty’s pleasure: and to stir from hence till my election debts are discharged I cannot.
Having thus told you how I am circumstanced, I rely on your favour, and once more entreat your kind representation of me to his Majesty, on whose goodness I depend, and in whose service I shall never grudge the last dregs of my blood, or the last penny I have in the world.
You may please to communicate what you think fit on this head to Lord Cholmondeley [George Cholmondeley, Lord Malpas], who is no stranger to the pains I have taken, or the great expenses I have made for the good of the Whig interest in this rotten part of his Majesty’s dominions.
I hope I need not add, that no man upon earth, is more affectionately devoted to you than, etc.5
Whether Walpole responded, and how, is not known.
Bereton played a considerable part in organizing the campaign against Sir Watkin Williams Wynn in Denbighshire at the general election of 1741.6 For the rest of his life he continued to control the representation of Liverpool, against which the 2nd Lord Egmont notes in his electoral survey (c.1750):
Now in Brereton, hereafter in where the Crown pleases. He is a very little fellow.
In February 1740 he presented an estimate of the cost of the victuals of the land forces engaged in the American expeditions.7 Resigning his office in 1747 because, under the Place Act of 1742, it was about to become incompatible with a seat in the Commons, he was given a secret service pension of £500 p.a.,8 which he drew till his death, 9 Mar. 1756.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Eveline Cruickshanks
This biography has used information kindly supplied by Patrick Montague-Smith.
- 1. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 87.
- 2. Mss at Liverpool RO.
- 3. HMC Egmont Diary, i. 85-86.
- 4. HMC 15th Rep. VII, 314.
- 5. Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss. See also LIVERPOOL.
- 6. HMC 15th Rep. VII, 323.
- 7. P. Mantoux, Notes sur les comptes rendus des séances du Parlement anglais au XVIIIe siecle, 62.
- 8. Namier, Structure, 432.