Sir William Brereton’s Regiment of Dragoons

Active1642 to 1646
ConflictsFirst Civil War
ColonelSir William Brereton
Area RaisedLondon & Cheshire
Coat Colour
Flag Colour
Flag Design
Field ArmiesBrereton 1643 - 1646

Parliamentarian regiment of dragoons serving in Cheshire in the First Civil War

Service History


  • November: Battle of Brentford? (Bramhall's)


  • January: Assist Sir John Gell against Ashby
  • January: Skirmish at Nantwich
  • February: Skirmish at Taporley?
  • May: Storm of Stafford
  • March: First Battle of Middlewich
  • March: Battle of Hopton Heath


  • January: Battle of Nantwich?
  • July 20th: Fight at Oswestry
  • August: Skirmish at Oswestry?
  • August to November: Siege of Liverpool?
  • August: Skirmish at Malpas?
  • September: Battle of Montgomery?
  • October to November 1645: Siege of Beeston Castle


  • January: Skirmish at Chrisleton
  • February: Storm of Shrewsbury
  • February: Skirmish at Beeston
  • March to September: Siege of Chester
  • April: Siege of Hawarden Castle
  • September: Battle of Rowton Heath
  • November: Battle of Denbigh Green


  • February to March: Siege of Holt (Gimbart)
  • March to July: Siege of Lichfield (Finch & Gimbert)
  • March onward: North Wales (Holt & Stockport)
  • August to January 1647: Siege of Holt (Gimbart)


A history of the unit and lists of its officers are shown in Andrew Abram’s More Like Lions Than Men: Sir William Brereton and the Cheshire Army of Parliament 1642-46 Helion & Co. Ltd., Warwick, 2020. ISBN 978-1-913118-82-2

In his claim for pay in 1646 Brereton stated that “I commanded a Regiment of Dragoons from my first comeing downe into Cheshire which was in January 1643 until ye said 24th of June 1645 (the date Brereton gave up his command under the S.D.O.)” However he did not claim any pay for the office as the regiment had never been officially commissioned.

From 1644 onwards the men involved are described seemingly randomly as Dragoons or Firelocks.

Coats, Flags & Equipment

As with all the Cheshire forces, although uniform was issued no coat colours are known. Appear to be armed with firelocks from 1644 at the latest.

Notable Officers

Colonel Sir William Brereton

Officer Lists

On his arrival in Cheshire from London Brereton had three companies of Dragoons under him

  • Captain John Bramhall/Bromhall (Seems to have later been upgraded to Horse)
  • Captain Gowring Gouldgay (Goldgay held the rank of Quartermaster in November 1642 when he was supplied with 3 sakers to conduct to Reading. (N.A. WO55/1937) He was commissioned Captain 6th December 1642 and the officer and men were listed in London during that month. Goldgay's claim for pay extends to the 1st of November 1643. Although he remained in the area variously as Major and Lt-Col through to 1646, it is not clear if he had any troops under him. (N.A. SP28/225/865-866)
  • Captain John Lea or Ley (07/11/42 - 12/11/43 Lea was at one point “shot through the body” which may have been what caused his retirement).1)

Two more companies were raised on arrival in Cheshire both being active by March 1643

  • Captain John Cheswiss (Cheswiss had been commissioned as far back as 11/42 by Sir George Booth. He was a prisoner in Shrewsbury in March 1644. On his release in April he was made a Captain of Horse and his dragoons may have been upgraded. He was killed in action at Oswestry 20/07/44)
  • Captain Collinson (This company appear to have been short lived and no mention of them has been found after April 1643)

A few other companies had a shadowy existence in 1643-44

  • Captain Kempton (Only known from a single reference to his Clerk in December 1643 and not stated to be a Dragoon officer. However his Clerk John Urmston had been involved in paying dragoons at the beginning of the year and seems to have ended the war as Cornet to Captain Gimbert.)
  • Capt Samuel Farrington (Was attempting to raise a company in August 1644. Any men he did raise were probably merged into the troop of horse being raised at the same time by his brother Francis, which was taken over by Lt. Col Coote in December of that year)

By the start of 1645 only three Firelock/Dragoon companies remained. They apparently contained many soldiers from the Engish army in Ireland who had changed sides after the battle of Namptwich, perhaps the remains of Captain Thomas Sandford’s Company of Firelocks and Captain Francis Langley’s Company of Firelocks.

  • Captain Godfrey Gimbert (Gimbert had previously been Lieutenant to a Dragoon company, possibly that of Captain Kempton, which he may have taken over)
  • Captain Simon Finch (Finch had been an officer in Ireland and fought for the Royalists at the battle of Namptwich. where he was captured. After changing sides he was commanding a company by August 1644)
  • Lt Colonel Samuel Jones (raised November/December 1644 and almost certainly based on the 50 men who deserted from the Royalists before the surrender of Liverpool having previously served under Jones in Ireland.)2)
  • Captain Joseph Holt (took over Jones' company of which he had been Lieutenant in May 1645)
  • Captain James Stockport (Formerly of Colonel Henry Mainwaring’s Regiment of Foot. Raised mid 1645)

Contemporary References

Goldgay at Nantwich Skirmish

…The enemy cried, “Let us fly, for they have great ordnance.” Captain Goldgay dismounted his dragooners, and turned his horses upon them, which brought them into confusion, and charged upon them very sore3).


A petition from Cheshire of c.April 1645 puts the strength of the Cheshire Dragoons at 300 men. They would at this point have comprised 4 companies.

See Also

1) N.A. SP28/265/68-71
2) N.A. SP28/152/pt7/13
3) Pamphlet Cheshire's Successe since their pious and truly valiant Colonel, Sir William Brereton, Baronet, came to their rescue, &c. London : March 20. Printed for Thomas Underhill, and are to be sold in Wood Street. (K. P. 996.), quoted in Memoirs of the Civil War in Wales and the Marches J.R. Phillips 1874.