MEREDITH, Thomas (aft.1666-1701), of Leeds Abbey, Kent
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Family and Education
b. aft. 1666, 3rd s. of Sir Richard Meredith, 2nd Bt.†, of Leeds Abbey by Susanna, da. of Gen. Philip Skippon†, of Foulsham, Norf. and Acton, Mdx., and sis. of Sir Philip Skippon*; bro. of Sir Roger Meredith, 5th Bt.† educ. Trinity Hall, Camb. 1682; I. Temple 1683. unm.
The Meredith family had originated in Wales, but had been settled at Leeds Abbey since James I’s reign. Meredith was fortunate in that the early death of his eldest brother, the 3rd baronet, in 1681, left the title in the hands of the next brother, Richard, a certified lunatic (since 1679), who was placed in the custody of his mother, Susanna, and an uncle, Roger Meredith (d. c.1700). However, it appears that the bulk of the estate lay at the mother’s disposal for life, as she stated in 1703 that her son’s estate yielded only £150 p.a., but would be worth £400–500 after her death. In these circumstances, Thomas, as the heir presumptive to the baronetcy, appears to have inherited the family’s political influence and entitlement to local office-holding which went with it. Thus, in 1689 he was appointed to the county bench and remained a j.p. until his death.1
Meredith’s election in January 1701 appears not to have been contested. His name does not figure on any parliamentary lists, but it seems clear that he was a Whig for he presented the Kentish Petition to the Commons on 8 May 1701, albeit with the proviso ‘that he was unwilling to do anything against the sense of the House, and very modestly asked the advice and direction of the House’. Given the subsequent imprisonment of the five gentlemen behind the petition, this was only prudent. However, Meredith had already informed the Petitioners that their design had been betrayed by his fellow knight of the shire, Sir Thomas Hales, 2nd Bt.* His other activities in the Commons included appointment on 19 Mar. to a drafting committee for a bill erecting a hospital and workhouse in Ashford, but which never produced any legislation. Meredith died on 11 July 1701, shortly after the prorogation of Parliament (24 June), but before the dissolution. It was later noted that ‘tho’ he remained in good health all the time of sitting of the Parliament and paid his attendance there to the last, yet upon the prorogation and going into the country for air, he sickened and died’. His brother, Richard, the 4th baronet, survived him, as did two other brothers, Colonel Henry (d. 1711) and Roger, who eventually succeeded to the baronetcy in 1723 and sat as knight of the shire for Kent in the 1727–34 Parliament.2