BRETON, William (d.1773), of Burlington St., London, and Canon Leigh, Devon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



5 July 1746 - 1747

Family and Education

Offices Held

Groom of the bedchamber to Frederick, Prince of Wales, July 1748-51, to George III as Prince of Wales 1751-60 and as King 1760-d.; keeper of the privy purse Sept. 1763.


Breton, ‘a great favourite’ with Frederick, Prince of Wales,1 was brought in for Bossiney by Thomas Pitt at a by-election in 1746. In 1747 he was in the Prince’s list of persons to be brought into Parliament, not being able to bring in themselves, whose seats were ‘fixed but not sure’. The Prince’s agents had ‘great hopes of success’ for him at Wootton Bassett in 1747, but he was not returned.2 A year later he was given a place in the household of the Prince, on whose death he went into the new Prince’s service. Described by Horace Walpole as ‘a most devoted tool of the Princess and her favourite [Bute]’,3 in 1763 he succeeded Bute as keeper of the privy purse at the express desire of George III, who regarded him as a childhood friend.4 He subsequently wrote to Bute:

I must beg leave myself to assure you of my most sincere respects and dutiful attachment, which no absence nor length of time can ever abate in the smallest degree. My obligations to your Lordship are infinite, but the uncommon kind manner in which you was ever pleased to confer them has greatly added to the obligations ... Nothing in my office has given me more pleasure than being ordered to attend your picture to the Queen’s House and then receiving the King’s further orders to pay for it.5

He died unmarried 8 Feb. 1773, his only brother, George, renouncing administration in favour of the principal creditor.6

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Walpole to Mann, 13 Sept. 1745.
  • 2. HMC Fortescue, i. 108, 117-18.
  • 3. Mems. Geo. III, i. 236.
  • 4. Grenville Corresp. ii. 208-11.
  • 5. 10 Jan. 1764, Add. 5726, ff. 79-80.
  • 6. PCC Admon. Act Bk. Feb. 1773.