Brenan, William (unknown–1839)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: May 18, 2019

William Brenan, soldier and legislator of the Republic of Texas, was born in Ireland and immigrated to Texas, probably by way of Nacogdoches, in the fall of 1835. On October 25, 1835, he enlisted as a private in Capt. Samuel O. Pettus's company of New Orleans Greys. He saw action at the siege of Bexar and the disastrous battle of Coleto. He survived the infamous Goliad Massacre, however, and was discovered at Goliad by doctors J. H. Barnard and John Shackelford. He thereupon joined Capt. William H. Patton's company–the so-called Columbia Company–of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers, in time to participate in the battle of San Jacinto. At least six others of Patton's men–Daniel Murphy, Nathaniel Hazon, Charles Shane, N. J. Devinneyr, Thomas Heny, and Thomas Hope–were likewise survivors of Fannin's command. On October 9, 1836, Brenan was indemnified twenty-five dollars for the loss of his rifle at Goliad. For his service in the Texas Revolution he was issued a bounty warrant for 1,280 acres, which he sold to Benjamin Fort Smith.

After the war Brenan moved to San Patricio County, where he was elected to the House of Representatives of the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas. He served from September 25, 1837, until May 24, 1838. At the end of the session he moved to Victoria. During this time he was proprietor of the Western Land Agency, which operated in Bexar, Refugio, San Patricio, and La Bahía. This is apparently the same William Brenan who was captured by Mexican soldiers near San Patricio and imprisoned at Matamoros until he escaped early in February 1839. He was reelected to the House and planned to return to San Patricio to build a home. He and a friend left Victoria in July 1839, en route to San Patricio. His badly decomposed body was discovered on the road between the two towns some three months later, and he is supposed to have been murdered.

Joseph H. Barnard, Dr. J. H. Barnard's Journal: A Composite of Known Versions, ed. Hobart Huson (Refugio?, Texas, 1949). Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Muster Rolls of the Texas Revolution (Austin, 1986). Harbert Davenport, Notes from an Unfinished Study of Fannin and His Men (MS, Harbert Davenport Collection, Texas State Library, Austin; Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin). Sam Houston Dixon and Louis Wiltz Kemp, The Heroes of San Jacinto (Houston: Anson Jones, 1932). Richmond Telescope and Register, October 9, 1839. Telegraph and Texas Register, March 20, October 20, 1838. Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941).

  • Peoples
  • Irish
  • Politics and Government
  • Military
  • Soldiers
Time Periods:
  • Texas Revolution

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Brenan, William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 18, 2019