Meredith


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Meredith, or Meredudd in its earliest manifestations, is a very old Welsh forename.  The closest English translation would be "great lord."  Royal princes bore this name in Powys (mid Wales) and in Deheubarth (south Wales) before the Anglo-Norman invasions. 

The name appeared in the Welsh patronymical style as:
  • Madoc ap Maredudd the prince of Powys in the 1100's
  • and as Rhys ap Meredith in Lampeter in the late 1200's. 
Owen ap Meredith, from these Welsh lines, succeeded by battle to the throne of England in 1485.  He elected to use an anglicized form of his grandfather's name.  As a result, we have the royal house of Tudor rather than the royal house of Meredith. 

The transition to English-style surnames did not really occur in Wales until the mid-16th century.  Maredudd ap Gronwy was born around 1500.  His grandson, born in 1550, was the bishop Richard Meredith.

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Wales.  The Meredith families of Llambister and Llangulo in Breconshire were among the first to adopt the English style Meredith.  John Meredith, later knighted, was the high sheriff of Brecon in 1762.  Among present day Brecon notables is the Welsh novelist and poet, Christopher Meredith. 

Border Counties.  The Meredith name was soon to be found as well in the Welsh border counties of Radnorshire and Monmouth (present day Powys and Gwent) and the abutting English counties of Herefordshire and Shropshire.  Waterden in the county of Shropshire recorded the following Merediths in the Welsh style in wills during Elizabethan times:
  • Jenkyn ap Meredith in 1560
  • James ap Jennk ap Meredith in 1570
  • and Rees ap John ap Meredith in 1587
Rhiise ap Meredith died in Presteigne, Radnorshire in the 1550's.  His Meredith descendants established themselves at Stapleton in Presteigne and later in Kington in Herefordshire.  John Meredith ran an iron foundry in Kington in the early 1800's.  Mary Webb was born Mary Meredith in the small village of Leighton in Shropshire in 1881.  The novels she wrote strongly evoke the countryside of her day. 

North Wales.  Further north, an old Welsh Meredith family established themselves in the 1640's through Amos Meredith at Henbury Hall in Cheshire (near Macclesfield).  They remained there until Sir William Meredith sold the house in the 1770's. 

There were also Meredith lines near Wrexham in north Wales.  A Meredith family who made their money from local coal mines was based at Pentrebychan Hall from the 1620's; and there were Merediths as well at Allington and Stansty nearby.  Billy Meredith from Chirk was Wales's first football star.

England.  A Meredith family, probably originally from Wales, was first found in Portsmouth with the baptism of Melchizedek Meredith there in 1763.  His grandson was the writer George Meredith.

Ireland
.  Merediths were also in Ireland

Some would have been descended from Bishop Richard Meredith and his brother John who had arrived from Llanafan Fawr in Breconshire.  Both lived in Dublin and were buried in St. Patrick's Cathedral there.  These Merediths were later to be found in Dublin and in Templerany in county Wicklow.  Another Meredith family resided at Rosenallis in county Laios, starting with Rice Meredith in the late 1600's.

America.  The first Merediths arrived in America in the 1700's.  A number prospered.  Reese Meredith, a merchant, reached Philadelphia from Radnorshire in Wales in 1730.  His son Samuel rose to become the first Treasurer of the United States and issued the first American banknotes. 

Other early Meredith arrivals included:
  • Robert Meredith to Maryland in the 1670's from Radnorshire.  A descendant, Davis Meredith, fought in the Revolutionary War and settled in West Virginia.
  • David Meredith to Chester county, Pennsylvania in the early 1700's from Radnorshire.  He and his wife Sarah settled in the Welsh tract granted by William Penn in 1705.
  • Simon Meredith to Philadelphia in 1708 from Radnorshire.  His son Hugh was for a short term a printing partner with Benjamin Franklin.  Hugh later promoted Welsh settlement in the Carolinas.
  • James Meredith to Doylestown, Pennsylvania in the 1730's.  His son Hugh was the practicing physician there.
  • Jonathan Meredith and his wife Elizabeth to Philadlphia in the 1750's from Herefordshire.  Jonathan started a tannery business and prospered.
  • Luff Meredith helped set up the Baptist church at Cow Marsh in Delaware in the 1760's.  Later Merediths from this family moved onto Ohio.
  • and three Meredith brothers came to America in the 1760's, John to Virginia, Charles to North Carolina, and William to South Carolina.
Some Merediths found the going harder.  One family account tells of Merediths from the debtor prisons of Wales being shipped out to Georgia where they struggled to make a living; and there was another account of Merediths in the poor house in Delaware.  In the 1850's, six Meredith children were orphaned in Iowa after their parents died. 

Merediths were later to be found in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas principally.  There is a spot in East Texas called the Meredith Camp Grounds where Eber Meredith and his family were jumped by Indians in the 1850's. The Lake Meredith Recreational Area near Amarillo in Texas is named after AA Meredith, the father of the Canadian river dam.  

Canada.  The Rev. Thomas Meredith was born in Wicklow in 1777, but died in tragic circumstances there in 1819.  The family then uprooted themselves to Canada where his son William Meredith became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Quebec. 

Other Merediths from Templerany started heading for Canada in the 1830's, including John Cooke Meredith and his wife Sarah who settled in London, Ontario.  Their children came to be known as "the eight London Merediths" because of their prowess in law and finance.

Australia.
  Frederick Meredith from Denham in England arrived in Australia as a seaman onboard the Scarborough in the First Fleet in 1789.   He married in Australia four times - to Mary Allen in Sydney in 1789, to Ann Case on the high seas in 1792, to Mary Kirk one year later in Sydney, and to Sarah Mason in Sydney in 1811.  Only the marriage to Sarah Mason produced sons.

A later arrival, in 1821, was Charles Meredith from Pembrokeshire and his wife Louisa Ann.  He was active in political life in both New South Wales and Tasmania.  A mountain range in northeast Tasmania commemorates him. 

At the turn of the century, James Meredith moved further afield, to Samoa.  Here his family run a coconut cream factory.

Select Meredith Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


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Medoc ap Meredith was the last prince of Powys. 
Bishop Richard Meredith
was a well-respected bishop in Wales and Ireland during the sixteenth century.

Samuel Meredith was the first Treasurer of the United States.
George Meredith, born in Portsmouth, was a noted Victorian novelist.
Billy Meredith, born in Chirk in north Wales, was possibly football's first superstar in the early 1900's.


Select Merediths Today
  • 12,500 in the UK (most numerous in Bridgend)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in Kentucky).
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).



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Adams Cohen Harding McDonald Reynolds
Armstrong Corbett Harmer Meredith Richardson
Bacon Crawford Harris Mitchell Rooney
Baldwin Crowther Hayward Moore Sawyer
Bannister Doyle Henderson Murray  
Shelley
Bartlett Drake Hepburn Myers Sheraton
Bennett Driscoll Higgins Nash Spencer
Booth Ellis Hilton Newton Swan
Bowles Fitzgerald Holmes
Nightingale Sykes
Brett Fleming  Hopkins Oakes Tattersall      
Burden/Borden Foster Hudson Osborne Todd
Byrne
Fox Jackson Palin
Tucker
Carpenter Fraser Jefferson Palmer Vaughan
Carter Fry Jenner Pascoe Wade
Cassidy Fuller Lofthouse  Perry/Parry        
Wallace
Cavendish Gallagher        
Lynch  Pertwee Warren  
Chapman Goodwin Maloney Powell Washington
Chisholm Gould Marriott Pratt Webster
Clay Grant Maynard          
Probyn Witherspoon
Clinton Hancock McCarthy Quayle Wyatt 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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