Select Meredith Miscellany

Here are some Meredith stories and accounts over the years:

Meredith Meaning and Pronunciation

The original spelling was Maredudd.  The final element of the original spelling, "udd," means lord.  The same element is present in the ancient form of Griffith which is Griffudd.  The first part of the name has been a subject of much discussion.  Some schools of Welsh scholarly thought place the "mar" as possibly another variant of mawr meaning great or large. 

Maredudd is pronounced "Mredeeth," with no mention of the "e" following the "m."  In the Welsh language and in English speaking Wales, the accent and stress is always on the penultimate syllable.  The modern pronunciation is therefore - Mer-ed'ith.

The incorrect pronunciation that strikes the name outside of the Welsh borders is the one widely accepted in the US and the rest of Britain. which curuiously causes "Merry" to be a suitable shortening.  To those who are Welsh, it is grating to the ears to say the least to hear the name so mutilated!

Merediths in Pwllheli

One fateful day in 1566, a Dutch merchantman laden with sugar, molasses, goats' skins, and other wares on a voyage from North Africa to Antwerp dropped anchor off St. Tudwal's, two small islands a few miles west of Pwllheli.  The ship was way off course because pirates had captured it. 

The pirates sold the stolen cargo to the inhabitants of Pwllheli who were desperately short of provisions. Having pocketed their profits, they sailed off into the sunset, leaving local brothers Jevan and Richard ap Meredith to face the noose.

Merediths in Ireland

A DNA project has been established to study the genetic heritage of the Meredith and related families from Queen’s county (now Laois) in Ireland. 

There were four distinct geographical clusters of Meredith families in 16th and 17th century Ireland, centred around the present counties of Laois, Dublin/Wicklow, Sligo and Kerry.  Additionally, there is a fifth cluster comprising descendants of Richard Meredith, Bishop of Leighlin in the late 16th century, that is less well-defined geographically

Bishop Richard Meredith

In 1584 Richard Meredith left Pembrokeshire in Wales for Ireland where he was appointed the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin.  He was described as being noted for his "diligent preaching" and for "keeping a good house to the relief of many people which likeness was not done this thirty years by his predecessor." 

His latter days were spent in poor health and in religious harrassment.  He appeared before the Star Chamber in 1592, when he was fined £2,000, and again in 1594, when he was imprisoned for eight days.  He died three years later.  But his two sons, William and Charles, prospered in Ireland in the next century.

The Thomas Meredith Monument in Cookstown

The following inscription was written on Thomas Meredith's memorial of black and white marble in the Church of Ardrea.

"Sacred to the memory of Thomas Meredith D.D, former Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin and six years rector of this parish.

A man who gave to learning a beauty not its own and threw over science and literature the luster of the Gospel and the sweet influence of Christianity.  The talents which he clothed in humility and his silent and unobtusive benevolence were unable to escape the respect and admiration of society.  But those who witnessed him in the bosom of his family and shared the treasures of his conversation seldom failed to find the ways of wisdom more pleasant than before and to discover fresh loveliness in that Gospel upon which his hopes and ministry were founded.  He was summoned from a family of which he was the support and delight and from the flock to which he was eminently endeared on 2nd May 1819 in the 42nd year of his age by a sudden and awful visitation, but he knew that his Redeemer lived.

Erected by his sons."

He died, according to the words of the inscription, as a result of "a sudden and awful visitation."  A local legend explains this "visitation" by stating that a ghost haunted the rectory, the visits of which had caused his family and servants to leave the house.  The rector had tried to shoot it but failed.  Then he was told to use a silver bullet.  He did so and was found next morning dead at his hall door.

Nevertheless his name lives on in Meredith College for women, founded in 1891 in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Eight London Merediths

John and Sarah Meredith settled in London, Ontario and raised twelve children, eight boys and four girls.  The boys became known as "the eight London Merediths" because of their prowess in the law and finance. 

They were:
- William (born 1840): a Chief Justica and a leader of the Conservative political party later knighted
- John (born 1843): Director General of the Merchant Bank in Montreal
- Edmund (born 1845): a criminal barrister and mayor for London, Ontario
- Richard (born 1847):  a Chief Justice and President of the High Court of Ontario
- Vincent (born 1850): President of the Bank of Montreal and created a baronet
- Thomas (born 1851): President of the Canada Assurance Company
- Charles (born 1854): President of the Montreal Stock Exchange
- and Llewellyn (born 1860): an equestrian judge and horse breeder in England

Their four daughters were said to be "remarkable for their beauty."  But, curiously, none of them married.

Meredith Orphans in Iowa

James Meredith and his second wife Mary and their five children left Wales for the United States in 1849.  His younger sister Eleanor appears to have travelled with them as well.  After they had landed in New Orleans, the father James and his sister Eleanor died of cholera as the family travelled up the Mississippi river.

Widowed Mary and the five children were in Pottawatamie County, Iowa when the 1850 census was taken.  A short time later she married a widowed Welshman with one surviving daughter.  Later both she and the Welshman died, leaving six orphan children.

Billy Meredith, A Welsh Football Star

Billy Meredith, born in Chirk in 1874, was Wales' first football star.  He wore both the blue and red Manchester shirts - a legend for City and United.  His trademark was a toothpick which he chewed while playing to aid his concentration.  He had first chewed tobacco until the cleaners refused to wash the spit off his shirts.

In an interview in 2002, his daughter Winifred, then aged 95, reminisced about him:

"He was born and grew up in Chirk where he played football for the school team.  I think his headmaster, Mr. Thomas, was something to do with the FA.  Although we moved away, he never really left Chirk in his mind.  In fact, we used to go back there to live for a few weeks here and there when football was finished for the season.

We stayed at my Nain's.  I remember going for walks and going fishing with him in Chirk.  My father loved walking.  He said it was the best exercise going.  He was never any different.  We didn't think he was a celebrity like they are today.  We knew he was a very good player, but that was it.  We weren't allowed to go to many matches because my father didn't think the football ground was the place for women.  He couldn't get away with that today."  

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