Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brereton, William (1789-1864)

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BRERETON, Sir WILLIAM (1789–1864), lieutenant-general and colonel-commandant 4th brigade royal artillery, was descended from the very ancient Cheshire family of Brereton of Brereton Hall, through its Irish branch, the Breretons of Carrigslaney, co. Carlow, of whom some particulars are given by Sir F. Dwarris in 'Archæologia,' vol. xxxiii., and in Mervyn Archdall's edition of 'Lodge's Peerage of Ireland,' ii. 251. In the only biographical notice wherein his parentage is given he is described as a son of Major Robert Brereton, who fought at Culloden, and younger half-brother of Major-general Robert Brereton of New Abbey, co. Kildare (formerly of 30th and 63rd regiments), and lieutenant-governor of St. Lucia, who died in 1818. He was born in 1789, and entered the Royal Military Academy as a cadet in 1803, whence he passed out in May 1805 as a second lieutenant royal artillery. He served in the Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns from December 1809 to June 1815, including the defence of Cadiz, where he commanded the guns at Fort Matagorda, the battle of Barossa, where he was wounded, the Burgos retreat, the battles of Vittoria and the Pyrenees, the siege of San Sebastian, where he was temporarily attached to the breaching batteries, the battles of Orthez, Toulouse, Quatre Bras, and Waterloo. During the greater part of the time he was one of the subalterns of the famous troop of the royal horse artillery commanded by Major Norman Ramsay, with which he was severely wounded at Waterloo. He became a second captain in 1816, and was placed on half pay the year after. He was brought on full pay again in 1823, and, after a quarter of a century of further varied service at home and in the colonies, was sent to China, where he was second in command under General d'Aguilar in the expedition to the Bocca Tigris, and at the capture of the city of Canton in 1848. During the early part of the Crimean war, Colonel Brereton, who was then on the strength of the horse brigade at Woolwich, was present with the Black Sea fleet, as a guest on board H.M.S. Britannia, carrying the flag of his relative, Vice-admiral Sir J. D. Dundas, and directed the fire of her rockets in the attack upon the forts of Sevastopol on 17 Oct. 1854. He became a major-general in December 1854, and was made K.C.B. in 1861. For a short period he was at the head of the Irish constabulary. Brereton, who had been promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general a few days before, died at his chambers in the Albany, London, on 27 July 1864, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. He wrote a brief narrative entitled 'The British Fleet in the Black Sea,' which was privately printed (1857? see Brit. Mus. Cat.) Selections from Paixhans' 'Constitution Militaire de France,' translated by him in 1850, appear in 'Proceedings Royal Art. Inst.,' vol. i. (1857). By his will, executed 10 April 1850, and proved 16 Aug. 1864 (personalty sworn under 25,000l.), he left the sum of 1,000l., whereof the interest is to be applied in perpetuity to encouraging the game of cricket among the non-commissioned officers of horse and foot artillery stationed at Woolwich.

[Archæologia, vol. xxxiii.; Lodge's Peerage of Ireland, ed. Archdall, ii. 251; Burke's Landed Gentry (1868); Kane's List Off. Royal Art. (revised ed. Woolwich, 1869); Hart's Army Lists; Duncan's Hist. E. Art. i. 223, ii. 362, 364, 385, 430, 432, 434, 437; Proc. R. Art. Inst, vol. i.; Ann. Reg. 1864; Illust. Lond. News, xlv. 154, 299 (will).]

H. M. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.36
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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273 i 4 Brereton, Sir William (1789-1864): after constabulary insert and in April 1864 was made colonel commandant of the royal artillery