1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Jane Brereton

Samuel Egerton Brydges, "Mrs. Brereton" Censura Literaria 3 (1807) 327-29.



Jane, the daughter of Mr. Thomas Hughes of Bryn-Griffeth near Mould in Flintshire, by Anne Jones, his wife, was born in 1685; and being observed to be endowed by nature with a great capacity, her talents were assiduously cultivated by her father, who was himself a person of excellent parts. Mr. Hughes however dying when she was only sixteen, she soon lost these advantages; but requiring little from art, she early discovered a turn for poetry; which her acquaintance encouraged.

On 20 Jan. 1711, she married Mr. Thomas Brereton, at that time a Commoner of Brazen Nose College, Oxford, only son of Major Brereton, son and heir of William Brereton, Esq. of Cheshire. Her husband soon run out his fortune, and went over to Paris; and some time after this, a separation having taken place, she retired, 1721, to her native country, Wales; where she led a solitary life, seeing little company, except some intimate friends.

About this time Mr. Brereton obtained from Lord Sunderland, a post belonging to the Customs at Park Gate near Chester: but in Feb. 1722 was unfortunately drowned in adventurously crossing the water of Saltney, when the tide was coming in; and his body being found, was decently interred in Shotwick chapel belonging to his relation Thomas Brereton, Esq. M.P. for Liverpool.

Mrs. Brereton then retired to Wrexham in Denbighshire for the benefit of her children's education, where she died 7 Aug. 1740, aged 55, leaving two surviving daughters, Lucy and Charlotte. She was amiable in every relation of life; and possessed some talents for versification, if not for poetry, which she diplayed for some years as a Correspondent to the Gentleman's Magazine under the signature of MELISSA: where she had a competitor who signed himself FIDO; of whose treachery her Editor complains; and whom I suppose to have been a suicide, who is recorded in the Obituary of the Gent. Mag. Vol. VII. p. 316, in the following words:

May 17, 1737, died "Mr. Thomas Beach, Merchant at Wrexham, in Denbighshire, suddenly. He was master of a fine genius, author of Eugenio, a poem, just published, and some other poetical pieces."

After Mrs. Brereton's death, were published Poems on several occasions: by Mrs. Jane Brereton. With Letters to her friends; and an account of her life. London. Printed by Edward Cave at St. John's Gate. 1744. 8vo. pp. 303.