MEREDITH, William (d.c.1604), of Blackfriars, London and Stansty, Denb.
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Family and Education
2nd s. of Richard Meredith of Stansty by Jane, da. of Morgan ap David ap Robert. m. (1) bef. 12 Feb. 1566, Martha, da. and coh. of Robert Long, mercer of London, 2s. 2da.; (2) Jane, da. of Sir Thomas Palmer of Wingham, Kent. Kntd. 1603.1
Bailiff and collector of lordship of Swinfield; collector and bailiff of manor of Newington, Kent 1598; dep. treasurer at war in the Netherlands 1587-97; acting treasurer at war Apr. 1597; paymaster of the forces there from May 1597; dep. treasurer at war 1599.2
Meredith came of an old Denbighshire family. In 1558 he was a merchant in Antwerp and in October of that year, while abroad, was elected a master bachelor of the Mercers’ Company. One Robert Meredith, who may have been a relative, was a mercer in March 1541. In 1565 William purchased land in Kent from Bartholomew Page, a London mercer.3
From May 1587 to May 1597 he was the deputy of Thomas Shirley I, treasurer at war in the Netherlands. On 12 Mar. 1597 when Shirley was about to be superseded, Rowland Whyte wrote to Sir Robert Sidney that ‘the Lords offered Mr. Meredith the paymaster’s place, with £200 fee. He refuses, not willing to meddle in the affairs of princes, nor content with so small means’. However, on 30 Apr. 1597 Meredith wrote to Burghley:
If the Queen shall think me fit for the office of paymaster of the forces in the Low Countries, I will do my uttermost to perform the best service I can, and give security for £3,000, being almost a month’s pay there. Whereas Sir Thomas Fludd has £2 1s.8d. per diem, for the entertainment of himself and his under officers, I will serve the place for 30s. a day ... By this means the Queen shall be well secured of the charge committed to me, and shall save £200 odd yearly.
On the following 14 May he was granted the office of paymaster, thus virtually replacing Fludd as treasurer. Meredith’s fee was 10s. a day and 5s. for each of four clerks. On 15 June 1597 Thomas Fanshawe I wrote to Burghley that 19 persons had entered into bonds worth £4,000 altogether as security for Meredith, and that Meredith himself was bound in £4,000 for the office. About September of that year Meredith wrote to Burghley, ‘I have undertaken the service of the Low Countries at a less rate than any other has done, and beg consideration’. He kept the office till his death, between 6 July 1603 and 8 Feb. 1604. In January 1598 his brother, John Meredith, was his deputy in the west country, and he also acted as his deputy at Middelburg in the Netherlands in May 1601. On 12 Aug. 1599 William was appointed deputy to Sir John Stanhope, treasurer at war for the armies. He was knighted at the coronation of James I.4
By his will, dated 6 July 1603, Meredith left his wife 1,000 marks in ready money and the parsonage of Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, for 45 years, with remainder after her death to his son William, his executor. To his daughter Anne he left £1,000 and to his daughter Jane 1,000 marks. To Sir Thomas Palmer and Lady Palmer, Lady Shirley, Lady Tracy, and 21 others he gave each a gold ring with an engraved death’s-head and the inscription Memento mori. He bequeathed £5 to the parson of St. Alban’s in Woodstreet and the same amount to the poor of the parish, £5 to the poor of Blackfriars, £10 to the poor of Stansty, and 7 nobles to a cannoneer. He left £30 for the yearly wage of a preacher at Wrexham, expressing the hope that the people of the parish would thereafter maintain a learned and godly minister there, as had not been done in any of the parishes of Bromfield and Yale within his memory. He expressed a desire for the King to reform the lamentable state of all the churches of North Wales. Other money bequests in the will amounted to £205.5 His wife married secondly Sir John Vaughan, 1st Earl of Carbery, of Golden Grove, Carmarthenshire.6
Meredith may have been a nominee of (Sir) Henry Knyvet at Wootton Bassett in 1593, since John Hungerford, the other Member for the borough in that year, was not. No connexion between Knyvet and Meredith has been established. They may have become acquainted through both being engaged in military service. Also, Knyvet as sheriff and receiver of Wiltshire, may have known Meredith as a considerable landowner in Wiltshire, for in 1574 the latter bought a third part of the manors of Comberford, Stokeleigh, Calston, Westbury, Bowars, Chapmanslade, Goddesfeld, Calne, Pollesholte, Ashton, and Hilperton, and a third part of the hundred of Calne. Meredith was not named to any committee, but as burgess for Wootton Bassett he could have attended a cloth committee on 15 Mar. 1593.7
Ref Volumes: 1558-1603
Author: S. T. Bindoff
- 1. Lloyd, Powys Fadog, iii. 82; Palmer, Wrexham, 195; Vis. Kent (Harl. Soc. liv), 114; GEC Baronetage, i. 209; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 11, 280, 360; 1553 and App. Edw. VI, 388; 1563-6, pp. 524-5; Arch. Camb. lxxxvii. 243.
- 2. E315/309/116; HMC Ancaster, 81, 119, 229; HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 267, 269, 271-2, 277, 278, 281, 317, 321, 487-8; HMC 5th Rep. 287; HMC Hatfield, vii. 178, 196, 200, 248, 305, 426; viii. 19; ix. 93, 97-8; xvi. 415; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 405-13; Add. 1580-1625, p. 205; APC, xxvii. 16, 130, 134, 135, 143, 333, 334-5; xxviii. 310; xxix. 12-13, 25, 130, 136-7, 139, 419-20, 595, 644-5, 712; xxx, xxxi, xxxii, passim.
- 3. Arch. Camb. lxxxvii. 240-1; HMC Sackville, i. 5; Sir J. Watney, Hosp. St. Thos. of Acon, 128-9, 183, 184-5; CPR, 1563-6, p. 304.
- 4. HMC De L’Isle and Dudley, ii. 249; CSP Dom. 1595-7, pp. 401, 415, 442, 507; 1598-1601, p. 290; 1603-10, p. 217; PCC 14 Hayes; APC, xxviii. 263; HMC Hodgkins, 273; HMC Foljambe, 101-2.
- 5. PCC 14 Hayes.
- 6. DNB (Vaughan, Richard); Lloyd, loc. cit.; Palmer, 196.
- 7. Wilts. N. and Q. viii. 133; D’Ewes, 501.