Thomas Brereton

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Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Brereton (1782–1832) was descended from Sir William Brereton chief justice and Lord high marshall of Ireland from the ancient and noble family of Brereton, Cheshire England. He was born in Kings County (now Offaly) Ireland in 1782. In 1798 he received his commission as an ensign in the 8th West Indian regiment. In 1809 he was promoted to Major and served at the capture of Martinique from the French and Guadelope the following year. He was appointed Brigade Major in 1813 for his relative Major General Robert Brereton, lieutenant Governor of St Lucia. In 1814 he was appointed lieutenant Governor of Senegal and Goree and was present during the Méduse tragedy. Promoted to Lt Colonel in 1815 of the Royal Africa Corps. He was appointed in 1819 Command of the Cape Town garrison until 1823 when he retired to England to become Inspecting Field officer for the Bristol recruiting district.

At the time of the 1831 Reform riots in Bristol he was in charge of the troops. Though Colonel Brereton managed to put down the rioting after 3 days upon arrival of the reinforcement he had requested, he was Court-Martialled in January 1832 during which he committed suicide. Twice a widower he died leaving 4 children.[1]

Depictions in Film[edit]

The 1978 children's paranormal TV drama "The Clifton House Mystery" was a ghost story based on the circumstances of Brereton's death. The plot revolved around a family moving into an old house in Bristol that finds a long-dead skeleton in a hidden room. After some unexplained incidents, they become convinced that a ghost connected in some way with the Bristol Riots of 1831 is haunting the house. After checking local records, they realize that it is the ghost of a dragoon commander who was court-martialled for his handling of the riots, and who later disappeared without a trace. The ghost is named "George Bretherton" in the TV series. One of his descendants, named "Mrs Betterton", had sold the house to the family, but was allegedly unaware of the hidden room and its contents, referring only to a vague family scandal that happened generations ago.[2]


  1. ^ The Redemption of Colonel Brereton, by J. A. Brereton
  2. ^ PRO HO 40/28