People: Brereton, Sir Richard


Brereton (Brerton)





Marital Status


Spouse Name

Jane or Joan

Occupation Status



Sir Richard Brereton was the second son of Sir Randle Brereton of Malpas and older brother of the courtier, William Brereton, and the pluralist cleric and royal chaplain, John Brereton.

He married Jane or Joan, daughter and heiress of William Stanley of Tatton. She was also great-niece of Thomas Stanley, 1st earl of Derby. Sir Richard was her second husband. Jane Stanley inherited the Manor of Worsley in the parish of Eccles in Lancashire. She was born about 1493, as she was 18 on the death of her mother in 1511.

In 1542 Lady Brereton sued her husband in the Chester Consistory Court for divorce (which would have meant separation from bed and board). Some depositions in this matter have survived (CCALS EDC 2/2 ff. 448-449, 545v). The deponents all cited a number of extra-marital relationships on the part of Richard Brereton which had resulted in several illegitimate children, some of whom he acknowledged and some he did not. It was said to be widely known that one of his mistresses had suffered from ‘the french pokkes’, a common name for syphilis. Two deponents specifically mentioned this illness so there may have been reference to it in the libel.

He had three legitimate children, the eldest, Richard, was accused by his father of taking a chalice from the chapel in his manor of Worsley, among other criminal deeds. Richard predeceased his father.

Sir Richard Brereton died in 1557 in Islington, then in Middlesex.

His will, made in 1553, acknowledged four illegitimate sons and two daughters, leaving legacies to each of them. His will was disputed by his widow and his surviving legitimate son, Geoffrey, but was held to be valid.


George Ormerod, The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, vol. 2 (second edition, revised and enlarged by T. Helsby, London, 1882).

TNA: PROB 11/40/343

‘Townships: Worsley’, in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1911), pp. 376-392. British History Online [accessed 28 November 2022].


EDC 5/2/1 – plaintiff
EDC 5/3/1 – plaintiff
EDC 5/3/2 – plaintiff – exceptions against one witness included the fact that he was looking after one of Sir Richard Brereton’s illegitimate children

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