TRELAWNY BRERETON, Charles (?1757-1820), of Shotwick Park, Cheshire.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1 Feb. 1808 - Feb. 1809
2 Aug. 1814 - Nov. 1814

Family and Education

b. ?1757, o.s. of Lt.-Gen. Henry Trelawny by Mary, da. of John Dormer of Lee Grange, Bucks. educ. Westminster 1768-73. m. 3 July 1786, Mary, da. of Thomas Hawkins of Trewithen, Cornw., sis. of Christopher Hawkins*, 2s. 2da. suc. cos. Owen Salusbury Brereton to Shotwick 1798 and took additional name of Brereton 12 June 1800; fa. 1800.

Offices Held

Ensign, 2 Ft. Gds. 1773, lt. and capt. 1777, capt. and lt.-col. 1785, ret. 1790.


The son of a younger son of the Trelawnys of Trelawne, who had little to give him but patronage in his own profession, Trelawny took no pride in his education at Westminster school, but thanks to ‘a handsome exterior set off by courtly manners’, cut a figure as a military gallant. His younger son, Edward John Trelawny, who painted a somewhat vitriolic picture of his father in his memoirs, alleged that he fell in love at 24, but induced himself to marry an heiress and

found the lady’s fortune a great deal less, and the lady a great deal worse than he had anticipated, went to town irritated and disappointed with the consciousness of having merited his fate: sunk part of his fortune in idle parade to satisfy his wife, and his affairs being embarrassed by the lady’s extravagance, he was, at length, compelled to sell out of the army, and retire to economize in the country.

A bequest fell to him, and he seriously set about amassing money, which was henceforth the leading passion of his life. He became what is called a prudent man ... Notwithstanding his increased fortune, [he] did not increase his expenditure, nay, he established if possible a stricter system of economy. He had experienced greater enjoyment in the accumulation of wealth than in the pleasures of social life ... The only symptom he ever showed of imagination was in castle building ... Ingots, money, lands, houses and tenements constituted his dream. He became a mighty arithmetician, by the aid of a ready reckoner, his pocket companion: he set down to a fraction, the sterling value of all his and his wife’s relations, the heirs of law, their nearest of kin, their ages and the state of their constitutions. The insurance table was examined to calculate the value of their lives: to this he added the probable chances arising from diseases, hereditary and acquired, always forgetting his own gout. He then determined to regulate his own conduct accordingly: to maintain the most friendly intercourse with his wealthy connexions, and to keep aloof from poor ones.

Trelawny Brereton twice sat for brief periods in Parliament, on the interest of his brother-in-law Sir Christopher Hawkins at Mitchell. In each case he acted merely as a stopgap while Hawkins negotiated a more profitable arrangement. No speech or vote is known. In 1808 his appointment as high sheriff had to be cancelled, as he had been elected to the House two days before. Again at Hawkins’s instigation, he unsuccessfully contested Grampound in 1812 and Helston in 1818 and 1820. The only comment that survives on his parliamentary career would appear to be by his son, who related how his father had come home from Westminster one evening to find that his daughter had fallen through a skylight on top of his choice wines. ‘What an admirable legislator! Without speaking a word, he kicked and cuffed her out of the room, and then gloomily decanted what wine remained in the broken bottles’. He died ‘very suddenly’ on 10 Sept. 1820, ‘aged 63’.

E. J. Trelawny, Adventures of a Younger Son ed. Garnett, 28, 39, 41, 43; PRO 30/9/33, Abbot diary, 8 Feb. 1808; Gent. Mag. (1820), ii. 376.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne