MEEKE, William (1758-1830), of Beddington, Surr.
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Family and Education
b. 3 Jan. 1758, o. surv. s. of Joseph Easton Meeke of Rotherhithe, Surr. by w. Suffina; his sis. Elizabeth m. Samuel Farmer*. educ. Charterhouse 1771-6; Emmanuel, Camb. 1776; L. Inn. 1780, called 1785; continental tour 1781-2; fellow of Downing Coll. Camb. 1800-7. m. 30 June 1807, Mary Kelly, 2da. suc. fa. bef. 1780.
MP [I] 1790-7.
Steward of the household to ld. lt. [I] 1789-94; master of the revels [I] 1791-d; sec. to bd. of gen. officers [I] 1793-c. 1826; clerk of the parliaments [I] 1794-1800.
Capt. Northants vols. 1803, E. Northants militia 1809.
Lord Stanhope, Pitt’s biographer in 1865, received a letter from George Arthur Crawford:1
Among some family papers which have recently come into my possession are four letters written by Pitt to a near relation of mine. Mr William Meeke to whom they are addressed was an intimate friend of Pitt at Cambridge and their friendship continued to the end of Pitt’s life. When another early friend Lord Westmorland went to Ireland as lord lieutenant Mr Meeke accompanied him as a member of the household. He sat for some years in the Irish parliament and was afterwards appointed clerk of the parliaments which office he held till the Union. He sat for Penryn in the first Imperial Parliament but soon afterwards retired into private life.
Meeke, who sat for Callan in the Irish parliament was ‘supposed to be sent over here, by Mr Pitt, for the purpose of giving him accurate information of Irish affairs’.2 His Irish activities evidently affected his attendance at Westminster, to which he was returned as a friend of government by Lord de Dunstanville in 1796. He voted for Pitt’s tax proposals, 4 Jan. 1798, but made no other mark, and when in 1802 his patron replaced him, George Rose* commented that he ‘did not attend four times in a session’ and was ‘of no other use’. Pitt nevertheless expressed regret to Viscount Lowther that he must prefer Robert Ward to Meeke as Lowther’s nominee for Cockermouth.3
At the Union, Meeke received an annuity of £2,208 in compensation for his clerkship but declined to resign his secretaryship to the board of general officers in Ireland and retained for life the mastership of the revels, worth £300 p.a.4 He became a fellow of Downing College when it was founded in 1800, but in 1807 married Mary Kelly, probably the mother of his illegitimate son William (born in August 1806).5 He then applied to the Irish chief secretary for employment for himself and a friend. Sir Arthur Wellesley replied, 11 May 1807,6
You are rather high in your demand of an office of business; there are few so highly paid as that you wish for, and none but those to fill which men of experience are required. I think I shall soon have an opportunity of placing your friend, if he be more moderate than you are, which I hope he is, as the duke and I observe that you found your claim to this provision upon the fact that you refused to resign, and have kept an office which the government wished to give to another!
However, I will really do what I can for your friend.
In 1812 and 1813, Meeke was again interested in a seat in Parliament, as Lord Lonsdale’s nominee, but no opportunity arose and he was supposed to have lost interest.7 He died at Leamington, 15 July 1830. One of the executors of his will was James Kelly of the army pay office, probably his wife’s kinsman.8
Ref Volumes: 1790-1820
Author: R. G. Thorne
- 1. Kent AO, Stanhope mss 670/8, Crawford to Stanhope, 27 Jan. 1865.
- 2. Procs. R. Irish Acad. lix. sec. C no. 1, (1957), 31.
- 3. E. Suff. RO, Tomline mss, Rose to bp. of Lincoln, 11 July 1802; HMC Lonsdale, 152.
- 4. PRO 30/9/1 pt. 2/4, Hardwicke to Abbot, 15 Feb., 4 Mar. 1802; Add. 35701, ff. 264, 267; 35733, ff. 156, 292; 35735, f. 186; 35744, f. 133.
- 5. William d.v.p. (Charterhouse Reg.)
Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 44.
- 6. Wellington Supp. Despatches, v. 44.
- 7. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 5 Nov. 1812, Long to same, 19 Oct. 1813.
- 8. Gent. Mag. (1830), ii. 93; PCC 457 Beard.