Jane was the daughter of Mr. Thomas Hughes, of Bryn Gruffydd near Mold, Flintshire by Anne Jones, his wife, and was born in 1685. Unusually for the time, Jane was educated, at least up to the age of 16, when her father died. She showed an early interest in poetry.
In January 1711, she married Mr. Thomas Brereton, at that time a commoner of Brasenose College, Oxford. Her husband soon spent his fortune, and went over to Paris. Some time after this, a separation having taken place, she retired, 1721, to her native country in Wales, where she led a solitary life, seeing little company, except some intimate friends. About this time Mr. Brereton obtained from Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland a post belonging to the customs at Parkgate, Cheshire, but in February 1722, he was unfortunately drowned in the River Dee at Saltney, when the tide was coming in. Mrs. Brereton then retired to Wrexham for the benefit of her children's education, where she died August 7, 1740, aged fifty-five, leaving two daughters, Lucy and Charlotte.
Mrs. Brereton possessed talents for versification, if not for poetry, which she displayed for some years as a correspondent to Ihe Gentleman's Magazine, under the signature of Melissa, where she had a competitor who signed himself FIDO, and who is supposed to have been Thomas Beach. After her death a volume was published of Poems on several occasions; with letters to her friends; and an account of her life, London, 1744. A number of her poems have been reprinted in subsequent collections.
Katherine Turner, writing in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography notes that "Brereton's body of poetry displays a flair for tactful occasional writing, and represents a transitional moment in women's writing in the eighteenth century, a moment at which being a published writer while retaining respectability was becoming a real possibility."
- Alexander Chalmers (Ed.), The General Biographical Dictionary - A New Edition volume VI (1812)
- Turner, Katherine, Brereton [née Hughes], Jane (1685–1740), poet, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online. Retrieved 17 July 2008
- "The Fifth Ode of the Fourth Book of Hoarace Imitated: And Apply'd to the King." London: William Hinchcliffe, 1716. (Foxon B408)
- "An Expostulary Epistle to Sir Richard Steele upon the Death of Mr. Addison". London: William Hinchliffe, 1720. (Foxon B408)
- "Merlin: A Poem." London: Edward Cave, 1735. (Foxon B409)
- Poems on Several Occasions. London: Edward Cave, 1744.
- Backscheider, Paula R. “Friendship Poems.” In Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2005. pp.175-232.
- Barker, Anthony D. "Poetry from the Provinces: Amateur Poets in the Gentleman's Magazinein the 1730s and 1740s." Tradition in Transition: Women Writers, Marginal Texts, and the Eighteenth-Century Canon. Eds. Alvaro Ribiero and James Basker. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
- Foxon, David F. English Verse 1701–1750: A Catalogue of Separately Printed Poems with Notes on Contemporary Collected Editions. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975.
- Kizer, Kathleen S. "The Gentleman's Magazine and the Marketing of Women Poets, 1731-1754." PhD Diss. Georgetown University, 1988.
- Lonsdale, Roger. Eighteenth Century Women Poets: An Oxford Anthology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989.
- Overon, Bill. The Eighteenth-Century British Verse Epistle. Hampshire: Palgrave MacMillan, 2007.
- Prescott, Sarah. "The Cambrian Muse: Welsh Identity and Hanoverian Loyalty in the Poems of Jane Brereton (1685-1740)." 38.4 (Summer, 2005) Eighteenth Century Studies. pp.587-603.
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