The ancient chronicles of England reveal the early records of the name Brereton as a Norman surname which ranks as one of the oldest. The history of the name is closely interwoven within the majestic tapestry as an intrinsic part of the history of Britain.
In-depth research by skilled analysts into ancient manuscripts such as the Domesday Book, (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, the Honour Roll of the Battle Abbey, The Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismals, family genealogists, local parish and church records, shows the first record of the name Brereton was found in Cheshire where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.
Many alternate spellings were found in the archives research, typically linked to a common root, usually one of the Norman nobles at the Battle of Hastings. Although our name, Brereton, appeared in many references, from time to time the surname included Brereton, Breereton, Breeretoun, Breeretoune, Breriton, Brerton, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded. Typically a person would be born with one spelling, married with another, and buried with a headstone which showed another. All three spellings related to the same person. Sometimes preferences for different spelling variations either resulted from a branch preference, religious affiliation, or sometimes nationalistic statements.
The family name Brereton is believed to be descended originally from the Norman race, frequently but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin. They were more accurately of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A.D., under their King, Stirgud the Stout. Thorfinn Rollo, his descendent, landed in northern France about the year 910 A.D. The French King, Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceded defeat and granted northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of the north men. Rollo married Charles' daughter and became a convert to Christianity.
Duke William took a census of most of England in 1086, and recorded it in the Domesday Book. A family name capable of being traced back to the manuscript, or to Hastings, was a signal honour for most families during the middle ages, and even to this day.
The surname Brereton emerged as a notable family name in the county of Cheshire where they arrived in the train of Hugh Lupys, one of the greatest of all Norman Nobles, to whom they were apparently related. They established many manors and estates in Cheshire including Brereton, Malpas, Eccleston, Wetenhall, Tatton, Honford, Barrow, in that shire, and Borasham and Burras in neighbouring Denbighland. The place named Brereton is in Staffordshire, Many of the branches were headed by titled members of the family, such as Sir William Brereton, Sir Thomas Brereton, Sir Andrew Brereton, Sir Robert Brereton, Sir William Brereton, and so on. Proving that this family was indeed one of the most distinguished of all Cheshire families. Prominent amongst the family at this time was Lord Brereton of Carlaw.
The surname Brereton contributed much to local politics and in the affairs of England or Scotland. During the 11th and 12th centuries many of these Norman families moved north to Scotland. Later, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious and political conflict. The Monarchy, the Church and Parliament fought for supremacy. Religious elements vied for control, the State Church, the Roman Church and the Reform Church. All, in their time, made demands on rich and poor alike. They broke the spirit of men and many turned from religion, or alternatively, renewed their faith, pursuing with vigour and ferocity, the letter of the ecclesiastical law. Many families were freely ''encouraged'' to migrate to Ireland, or to the colonies. Nonbelievers or dissidents were banished, sometimes even hanged.
The settlers in Ireland became known as the ''Adventurers for land in Ireland''. They undertook to keep the Protestant faith. In Ireland they settled in the county of Carlaw, and the name now, quite Irish, is largely found in the county of Tipperary.
The democratic attitudes of the New World spread like wildfire. Many migrated aboard the fleet of sailing ships known as the ''White Sails''. The stormy Atlantic, small pox, dysentry, cholera and typhoid took its toll on the settlers and many of these tiny, overcrowded ships arrived with only 60 or 70% of their passenger list. The migration or banishment to the New World continued, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England or Scotland, their home territories. Some clans and families even moved to the European continent.
In North America, migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the family name Brereton, or variable spellings of that same family name included John Brereton who settled in the Barbados in 1654; John Brereton settled in Maine in 1602; eighteen years before the ''Mayflower'' and was one of the pioneers of the Maine rivers; Thomas Breriton settled in Virginia in 1773; Samuel Brerton settled in Alexandria Virginia in 1818. From the port of arrival many settlers joined the wagon trains westward. During the American War of Independence some declared their loyalty to the Crown and moved northwards into Canada and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.
In the processs of researching this distinguished family name we also traced the most ancient grant of Arms from the branches which developed their own Arms.
The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was:
Silver with two black horizontal bars.
The Crest was:
A bears head emerging from a crown.
The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was: