Sir William Brereton’s Regiment of Horse

Flag Illustration1)
Active1642 to 1646
ConflictsFirst Civil War
ColonelSir William Brereton
Michael Jones
Area RaisedCheshire
Flag ColourBlack
Flag DesignSee below
Field ArmiesBrereton 1643-6

Later Colonel Michael Jones' Regiment of Horse

Parliamentarian regiment of horse serving in Cheshire and the Marches

Service History


  • September: Brereton commissioned as a Captain of Horse Harquebusiers 2)
  • November: Battle of Brentford (1 troop)


  • January: Skirmish at Nantwich
  • February: Skirmish at Tarporley
  • February: The 'Cheshire Horse' commanded by Brereton consisted of five troops (3-400 men)
  • March: Regiment formed 3)
  • March: First Battle of Middlewich
  • March: Battle of Hopton Heath
  • April: Skirmish at Moss House?
  • May: Storm of Stafford (Brereton's own troop)
  • October: Battle of Wem and Leigh Bridge
  • November: Battle of Holt Bridge
  • December: Second Battle of Middlewich


  • January: Battle of Nantwich
  • March - April: Brereton's troop quartered at Enfield Middlesex.4)
  • April: Brereton commissioned as Colonel of Horse
  • July: Storm of Montford Bridge
  • August: Skirmish at Tarvin
  • August: Skirmish at Malpas (Lt-Col Jones wounded)
  • September: Battle of Montgomery Castle


  • January: Battle of Chrisleton
  • January to February: Siege of Chester
  • March to September: Siege of Chester
  • March: Skirmish at Holt Bridge (Jones)
  • March: Taking of Northop?
  • April: Taking of St Asaph (Jones)
  • June: Brereton steps down as Colonel
  • June: Party under Jones in Nottinghamshire
  • September: Battle of Rowton Heath
  • September to February 1646: Siege of Chester
  • November: Battle of Denbigh Green? (Jones)


  • March: Jones made Governor of Chester
  • March: Most of Regiment assigned to Mytton's command in North Wales under Major Zankey
  • April to June: Siege of Caernarvon
  • October: Regiment reduced. Zankey's troop continues as the “County Troop” until June 1647.5)


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

Unlike the situation in most other areas where a multitude of small regiments of horse appeared until often being rationalized and reduced in 1645-6, there only appears to have ever been the one regiment in Cheshire, with any pre-existing troops quickly being absorbed by Brereton upon his arrival. Following Brereton's delayed standing down under the Self Denying Ordinance the Regiment passed to the Command of it's Lt-Col, Michael Jones. On Brereton's return to oversee the surrender of Chester and the final operations in the Midlands he did not resume command of the regiment, which was instead assigned to North Wales, and he struggled to secure the service of even his own old troop, half of which eventually joined him at Lichfield.

A note on Brereton's Commissions.

The details of Brereton's commissions is given in a number of different documents These are two sets of Brereton's accounts,6) a restatement of these in a draft certificate from the Committee for taking the Accounts of the Kingdom,7) and a further clarifying letter from Brereton.8) All these sources confirm that Brereton held the following commissions.

  • Colonel and Captain of Foot 20/09/42 to 24/06/45
  • Captain of Horse Harquebusiers 20/09/42 to 24/06/459)
  • Colonel of Horse Harquebusiers 16/04/44 to 24/06/45

These are of course not the same as the units that Brereton actually commanded and the accounts go on to explain that the command of the Horse Regiment extended back to 01/03/43 but Brereton claimed no pay for this period as he had no commission for it. Likewise the “good regiment of Dragoons” that Brereton led from “his first coming down into Cheshire until the time I returned to the Parliament June 24 1645” was also led for no pay due to lack of a commission.

The Term “Horse Harquebusiers” is a little strange but is used consistently in the documents above. Brereton's commission as Captain of Horse was issued by the Committee for the Safety of the Kingdom, I have been through a large number of other orders and warrents and a few Commissions issued by the Committee and this is the only time I have found the phrase. They normally use either Horse or Harquebusier seemingly interchangably.


Flags & Equipment

In 1643 Brereton bought two black taffeta trumpet banners for his own troop for £5 and 2 black taffeta cornets with silver and black fringe also for £5 10)

Brereton's cornet was, according to Prestwich; Sir William Brereton of Cheshire, Bart. Sable ; feeded with ftars of gold ; in fess, a label fleched, its points turned, and endorfed, forming two C's, motto DEVS NOBISCM ; fringed Sable and Argent11). (Illustration 1).

In May 1643 a Parliamentarian news-sheet Certaine Informations described Brereton's own troop as cuirassiers, when they were sent to support the Moorlanders against the town of Stafford, a transcript is online at Tyger's Head Books. This appears to be confirmed by Certain special and remarkable passages shown below, though both might be derived from the same source. If these articles are correct it appears that Brereton's own troop wore cuirassier armour, at least in 1643. However, Brereton's commissions as Captain, then Colonel of Horse Harquebusiers do not support this inference.

Notable Officers

Sir William Brereton

Sir William Brereton commanded Parliament's forces in Cheshire and the North West during the First Civil War.

Sir William Brereton's commission of captain of a troop of 60 horse 20 Sep 1642 in John Rylands Library JLRTW/262

Sir William Brereton's commission as Governor of Ecclesall Castle, Staffordshire 22 Nov 1643 in John Rylands Library JLR TW/263

Michael Jones

Michael Jones (d. 1649) had fought in the Irish Confederate Wars and returned to England in 1643. Initially he was Lieutenant Colonel of Sir William Brereton’s Regiment of Horse. He took over the regiment following Brereton stepping down after the Self Denying Ordnance. In March 1646 he was made Governor of Chester. Over the summer of 1646 he was trying to raise a regiment for service in Ireland but it's departure was delayed until 1647 when Jones was chosen to lead the parliamentarian expedition to Ireland.

Officer Lists

It should be noted that the surviving military document relating to the Cheshire Army are heavily biased towards the later years of the war particularly 1645/6 and that many of the troops listed below could have been formed earlier than indicated.


Brereton brought two troops with him on his return to Cheshire. These had been raised in London and one or both may have seen service around Brentford

  • Colonel Sir William Brereton 12)
    • Captain lieutenant Miles Edwards
  • Captain William Edwards (This troop was raised by William Edwards Alderman of Chester but seems to have been taken over at some point by his son also William. Served to end of 1646)13)

A third troop was also raised in London but may have followed slightly after Brereton's column possibly escorting some cannon that were not issued from the tower until January

  • Captain/Colonel George Booth (Raised Sept/Oct 1642 probably broke up at the end of 1644 when Booth resigned his commission as Colonel of Foot)14)

At this point there were at least one other troop already present in Cheshire

  • Captain Robert Duckenfield (Commissioned and some equipment issued in London in November, but to be raised in Cheshire)15)


To assist with the formation of the regiment Brereton requested the service of an experienced officer to act as Major

  • Major John Browne (previous service under Col. Goodwin and Lord Brooke. He was sent to join Brereton in June 1643 and by his own account remained for 13 months. Later served under Col Rainsborrow at Bristol and Worcester)16)

Troops first active 1643

  • Captain Auttey (only a single reference found to this officer. Various fabric and trimmings probably for trumpeters were issued to him and his Cornet as part of a bill for similar items issued to Brereton's troop in Oct. 1643)17)
  • Captain William Carter (In existence by August 1643 served till end of the war.)18)
  • Captain Francis Duckenfield (Younger brother of Robert served 05/10/43-16/05/44)19)
  • Captain Hunt (A single reference to the pay of this troop in July 1643. May be the same man as Lt Col Robert Hunt who was later governor of Hooton)20)
  • Captain Philip Mainwearing (probably being raised in January 1643 when money was issued in London to buy saddles. In 1644 he held the rank of Major. The last reference found to the troop was in October 1644 and in the Brereton Letter Books he appears only as a member of the County Committee)21)
  • Captain Stukeley (Two references dated June and October 1643)22)
  • Captain Robert Zankey or Sankey (Although Dore claims that he was at some point the regiment's Major, the only certain information I have is that Capt Robert Zankey had been a prisoner at Worcester before September 1643, All references to a “Capt Zankey” after October 1643 would appear to refer to his brother Jerome.)23)
  • Captain (Lieutenant?) Jerome Zankey or Sankey (Originally a regimental chaplain in April 1643 had took over command of Sir William Brereton's troop. By January 1645 he had become the regiment's Major, although still leading Brereton's own troop. He latter commanded a Regiment of Horse in Ireland.)24)


  • Lieutenant Colonel Jones (Jones started raising his troop in May 1644 He probably joined Brereton while he was in London. Jones took over the regiment following the SDO. His troop was intended to go with him to Ireland but due to delays it may well have been disbanded with the rest of the county forces before that could happen,)25)
  • Colonel John Leigh (The troop is first recorded in July 1644 . In December 1645 it was taken over by John's brother Leiut Coll Samuel Leigh and served into 1646)26)
  • Colonel Henry Brooke (Henry Brooke’s Horse may have been formed as far back as 1642 and was certainly in existence by May 1644 when Parliament voted money for it's completion. It seems to disappear around the end of 1645.)27)
  • Captain Humphrey Bulkeley (The troop appears to have been formed in summer 1644 On the night of 29th April 1645 he was captured along with most of his troop. He remained a prisoner till the fall of Chester.)28)
  • Captain John Cheswiss (Previously a Captain of Dragoons, following a period of captivity in Shrewsbury he became a Capt of Horse 24/04/44. It is not clear if this was a new troop or if his dragoons were upgraded, He was killed 20/07/44.)29)
  • Lieutenant Colonel Chidley Coote (Coote was Lt Col to Brereton's regiment of foot and his command here was only as a capt. After serving in Ireland with his father and brother, Coote came to England following the cessation. In September 1644 he was attempting to raise a troop but this appears to have come to nothing and instead by December he had taken over the troop raised by Francis Farrington He Claimed for pay under Brereton from 20/10/44 till 10/08/45. At this point he transferred to command the Shropshire horse being promoted Colonel on 08/11/45 and serving until 31/07/46. He then raised a Regiment of Horse for service in Ireland.)30)
  • Captain Francis Farrington (Troop being raised in August 1644 and had brief existence before being taken over by Lt Col Coote in December.) 31)
  • Captain John Glegg (Raised in winter 1644 served till end of first civil war then intended to go to Ireland with Colonel Jones. but apparently disbanded in November 1646)32)
  • Captain John Hawkridge (Possibly came from Ireland with Coote and Jones. Troop first appears in June 1644. The troop disappears during the summer of 1645.)33)
  • Captain John Holford (The troop first appears in Nantwich in winter 1644 and was still in existence in November 1645. It omission from Brereton's list of his forces is unexplained)34)
  • Captain Peter Stanley (Stanley claim to have held his commission since 28/02/43 but was only in actual service from 28/04/44 to 06/05/45. He also claimed as captain of dragoons for the same period. The troop does not appear in Brereton's list of April and there is a possibility that it was transferred to Shropshire)35)
  • Captain John Vivers (This troop may have had it's origins in the troop raised by Robert Vivers for Essex's Army in August 1642. The last recorded payment for this troop was in December 1643 and was received by a John Vivers. In late May 1644 members of Capt John Vivers' troop of Brereton's regiment were quartered in Middlesex. Brereton had gone down to London following the victory at Nantwich and was still there at the beginning of May and had presumably taken the troop into his service at this time. Their first recorded pay in Cheshire was on the 24th of June when they were 56 troopers strong. The troop disappears during the summer of 1645.)36)


  • Captain Richard Blackwell (Blackwell was paid for 26 troopers in Jan. 1645. By mid Feb. he was a prisoner in Chester. His exchange was not finalized until Aug. at which point he was in London. It would appear his troop had broken up by this time.)37)
  • Captain Hugh Culme/John Ely/Richard Brereton (Culme appears to have come from an Irish planter family with connections to the Jones's. He was paid for raising and furnishing a troop in Feb. 1645. He was killed at Rowton Moor in Sept. and the troop was briefly led by his Lieutenant John Ely before being taken over in Dec. by Captain Richard Brereton, under whom it served until the end of the first Civil War.)38)
  • Captain Robert Wynn (Wynn had been Capt-Lt to Col. Brooke's troop but seems to have been commanding his own troop by May 1645 and served into the autumn of 1646)39)
  • Captain William Shipley (Troop in existence by Jan. 1645 and serving through 1646)40)


  • Captain Henry Stone (Stone was a Staffordshire man and had served as a Capt of in Sir Richard Houghton’s Regiment of Foot. His troop formed part of the garrison of Eccleshall castle (captured Aug. 1643), Brereton's base in Staffordshire. Though nominaly part of Brereton's regiment and claimed as such in his lists of 1645 it served and was paid almost wholly alongside the Stafford forces.)
  • Captain John Walker (Walker was Brereton's Scoutmaster and commanded a detachment of horse based at the garrison of Ridley in 1645)41)

Contemporary References

Stafford taken

Vppon Mondaye the 15 May 1643 Colonell Brereton wth his Trowpers of horse & Dragooners did prvatlie gather together about Audley in Staffordshire, & Joyninge wth Colonell Ridgeway, (whose Companyes then laye att Newcastle & Leeke) on Tuesday morninge by three a Clocke almost peaceablie entred Stafford Towne, throwe [through] the pollicey & manhood [i.e. manfulness] of Maior Broomehall & a fewe others (The people in the Towne beinge quyett in theire Bedds), and possessed theim selves thereof, wthout losse of any man; They tooke above ffoure hundred Prysoners, & many gent. of worthe, viz: Captyn Sneyde, Captyn Bydolph, Captyn Leighe of Adlington, Captyn Bagott, Captyn Collyer, Captyn Hunt, Captyn Tresswall, & many other Comanders & gents. & Colonell Lane was Slayne, beinge on the Kinges ptie. Beside many Townesmen wch weire alsoe taken prsoners.

Capture of Stafford

E.104.5 A Continuation of Certain speciall and remarkable passages 18-25 May 164342)

The true relation of the manner of taking of Stafford,by Sir William Brereton by letters from thence is thus informed,The Malignant High Sheriffe and the rest of the Kings forces there, being desirous to bring that whole County in subjegation to them, by a speedy putting in execution the Commission of Array, warned all in general to make their appearance on such an Heath not farre distant,(having before disarmed most of them, deprived them of all things that had but the shew of a weapon) which design being made known to a worthy Gentleman (who was the Commander in Cheife of a Town not far distant) who presently sent to Sir William Brereton for some assistance, to prevent the enemies approaches, which when Sir William understood,(formerly knowing the fidelity and good service sends him some Curseries, and Dragooners; which he joined to his own strength, and so approach the place appointed for the meeting of the contrary party, and upon that Heath made the best shew and outside of an Army, that so small a strength could do; so that when the other were coming to make their appearance, they discovered an Army on the Heath before them and presently ranne back not daring to go on any further,insomuch that this valiant little Army were much encouraged in their enterprise; and one trusty and very faithful Commander (among the rest) desired that they might attempt to take the Towne, which Sir William Brereton consented to, so they marched the next night with their Carriages, and what they had, toward Stafford, coming thither betweene two or three aclock in the morning, then this worthy Commander, with fiftie or three score men undertook to scale the walls at one end of the City, and so to open a gate at the other end, where was Sir William and the rest of the body, and according to his purpose performed it suddenly, none in the Towne being up, excepting the Centinells, and some few which they quickly dispatcht, so that they were all in the midst of the Towne before they met with any opposicion, then on a suddaine Drums struck up, many swords drawne and some Muskets discharged, yet they lost but one man, but tooke two hundred horse, three hundred prisoners, two pieces of Ordnance, and many Gentlemen of quality.


April 1645: 13 troops with 790 men43)

  • Sir William Brereton's Owne troope under Major Zanckey 100
  • Lt Col Michell Jones 70
  • Col Duckenfield 60
  • Lt Col Chidley Coote 50
  • Col Brooke 50
  • Capt. Hawkbridge 50
  • Capt. Stones 100 (Note Staff?)
  • Capt. Vivers 50
  • Capt. Shepley 60
  • Capt. Bulkeley 70 (Note Taken)
  • Capt. Glegg 40
  • Capt. Collham 50
  • Capt. Edwards
  • Capt. Carter 40
  • Total 790

See Also

1) Original artwork by Tony Barton, shown by kind permission of Tony Barton and Charles Kightly. Previously published in Military Modelling magazine
2) John Rylands Library JRL TW/262
3) N.A. SP28/300/558
4) N.A. SP28/198/pt1/1-5
5) N.A. SP28/257/uf
6) N.A. SP28/152/pt7/20; SP28/300/558
7) N.A. SP28/35/164-5
8) N.A. SP28/35/168, copy In Dore N. 'The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton' Vol 2 item 809 (RSLC 1990).
9) original in John Rylands Library JRL TW/262
10) , 17) N.A. SP28/8/16.
11) Prestwich's Respublica, London, 1787
12) N.A. SP28/261/5.
13) N.A. SP28/262/184; SP28/144; SP28/47/78.
14) N.A. SP28/261/260; SP28/196/490; SP28/225/871.
15) N.A. SP28/262/395; SP28/144
16) N.A. SP28/264/289; SP28/220/uf.
18) N.A. SP28/196/496; SP28/144
19) N.A. SP28/45/67.
20) N.A. SP28/196/495
21) N.A. SP28/263/154; SP28/225/725.
22) N.A. SP28/196/495; SP28/8/248.
23) N.A. SP28/196/494; SP28/196/497.
24) N.A. SP28/196/497; SP28/225/924; SP28/144; SP28/257/uf.
25) N.A. SP28/225/174; SP28/224/181; SP28/224/195.
26) N.A. SP28/225/924; SP28/225/578; SP28/144.
27) Commons Journal III p484; N.A. SP28224/43.
28) N.A. SP28/225/929; Dore N. 'The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton' Vol 1 item 439 Vol 2 item 1243 (RSLC 1984 & 1990).
29) N.A. SP28/196/490; SP28/267/Part3/115.
30) N.A. SP28/196/506: SP28/196/510: SP28/267/Pt2/1
31) N.A. SP28/225/770; SP28/196/510.
32) N.A. SP28/225/486; SP28/224/181; SP28/144
33) N.A. SP28/225/924.
34) N.A. SP28/225/690; SP28/224/75
35) N.A. SP28/46/19; Dore N. 'The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton' Vol 1 item 385 Vol 2 item 1040 (RSLC 1984 & 1990).
36) N.A. SP28/11/232; SP28/21/267; SP28/225/924; SP28/144.
37) N.A. SP28/144; SP28/196/466; Dore N. 'The Letter Books of Sir William Brereton' Vol 2 item 664 (RSLC 1990).
38) N.A. SP28/225/775; SP28/225/873; SP28/38/183; SP28/225/873; SP28/144.
39) N.A. SP28/225/874; SP28/144.
40) N.A. SP28/225/680; SP28/224/172.
41) N.A. SP28/44/53
42) From Victor Judge aka BCW user '1642'
43) British Library Additional Manuscript 11331,45


ivor-carr, 15/09/2020 11:36
Re Brereton's commissions: This may seem a fairly pedantic point but the incorrect information has appeared in a recent book so we might as well get it correct here. The lack of the two commission did have effects which need to be considered when studying the history of the regiments. In the case of the Dragoons, Brereton's scrupulousness about this point led to the regiment (as opposed to the individual companies) having a somewhat ephemeral existence in official records, to the extent that Dore thought it had been disbanded. Thus when Brereton drew up a list of his Army for the Committee of Both Kingdoms the Dragoons obviously existed and so had to be included. However as the regiment did not officially exist they were included in the strength of his Foot regiment. When a few months later he drew up another list just of his own regiments, the Dragoons had disappeared. That was because this list was drawn up to support the presentation of Brereton's accounts and due to the lack of a commission he was claiming no pay for commanding them.
As for the Horse, Brereton obviously thought that the colonelcy was important in bringing the independent troops under his control. In February 1643 he wrote to London requesting the commission and an experienced major. He got the Major but not the commission and the reason for this must surely be pressure from factions within the Cheshire Parliamentarian party trying to stop Brereton gaining total military dominance. Command of the horse regiment seems to have been an early bone of contention between the factions. A reasonable (if circumstantial) case can be made that this came to a head in early 1644 when, with Brereton absent in London, the Booth/Mainwearing faction attempted to take control of the regiment. This failed and Brereton returned bearing the commission an order for the dismissal of Mainwaring and with what was in effect a whole second regiment commanded by professionals and outsiders. This would put an interesting twist on the regiments "double regiment" status with one half having been raised at least in part to overawe the other.
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