Brereton, William (DNB01)

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BRERETON, Sir WILLIAM (d. 1541), lord justice in Ireland, was eldest son of Sir Andrew Brereton of Brereton, Cheshire, and his wife Agnes, daughter of Robert Legh of Adlington in the same county. There were many branches of the Brereton family settled in Cheshire, and the lord justice must be distinguished from his contemporary, William Brereton (d. 1536) of Shocklach, who was groom of the chamber to Henry VIII, married Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Somerset, first earl of Worcester [q. v.], and was beheaded on 17 May 1536, in conconection with the charges against Anne Boleyn; to this fact Clarendon somewhat fancifully attributes the hostility of Sir William Brereton (1604-1661) [q. v.] to Charles I.

The future lord justice was knighted before 1523, and served on various local commissions, in which it is difficult accurately to distinguish him from contemporary William Breretons. In October 1534 he was sent with Sir William Skeffington [q. v.] to Ireland when Henry VIII resolved to substitute a firmer control for the rule of Kildare. It was rumoured that the Irish had captured Dublin, and Skeffington sent Brereton to effect a landing, while he himself proceeded to Waterford. The rumour proved false, Brereton was welcomed by the citizens on 17 Oct., and a week later Skeffington followed him. In the ensuing operations against the Irish Brereton was Skeffington's right-hand man, and he led the storming party which captured Maynooth Castle in March 1534-5. After Skeffington's death at the end of the year, Brereton returned to England, where he became deputy chamberlain of Chester.

On 2 Oct. 1539 Brereton was ordained to levy two hundred and fifty archers, and proceed with them to Ireland. Returning home one day from musters he broke his leg, but nevertheless he sailed for Ireland early in November. On his arrival he was made marshal of the army in Ireland and a member of the Irish privy council. In spite of his broken leg he took an active part in fighting against Desmond in Munster during the winter, and when Henry VIII recalled Lord Leonard Grey [q. v.] the deputy, Brereton was on 1 April 1540 commanded to act as lord justice during his absence. On 7 July Sir Anthony St. Leger [q. v.] was appointed lord deputy, and on his arrival at Dublin on 12 Aug. Brereton ceased to be lord justice. During the following autumn he was fighting in Odrone. He died at Kilkenny on 4 Feb. 1540-1, and is said to have been buried in St. Canice church, though Graves and Prim make no mention of him in their history of that cathedral.

Brereton married, first, Alice, daughter of Sir John Savage, by whom he had issue one son, William, grandfather of Sir William Brereton (1550-1630), who in 1624 was created Baron Brereton of Leighlin, co. Carlow (his portrait, painted by Lucas de Heere, was No. 682 in the third loan exhibition at South Kensington). He married, secondly, Eleanor, daughter of Sir Ralph Brereton of Ipstones, by whom he had issue three sons and five daughters ; his son, Sir Andrew Brereton, served in Ireland, was a member of the privy council, and was recalled in 1550 for quarrelling with Con Bacach O'Neill, first earl of Tyrone [q. v.]

[Cal. Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, passim; State Papers, Henry VIII; Cal. State Papers, Ireland; Cal. Carew MSS.; Cal. Fiants, Henry VIII; Lascelles's Liber Munerum Hib.; Lodge's Peerage, ed. Archdall; Burke's Extinct Peerage ; Froude's Hist. of England; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Ormerod's Cheshire, ii. 686, iii. 84-9.]

A. F. P.