Meredith, Richard (DNB00)

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MEREDITH, RICHARD (1550?–1597), bishop of Leighlin and Ferns, a native of Denbighshire, was a son of Robert Meredith ap Gronw and Margaret his wife, daughter of William John ap Gronw, and was nearly related to Richard Davies [q. v.], bishop of St. David's. He was born about 1550, and about 1568 matriculated at Oxford, probably from White Hall, in 1570 merged in Jesus College, from which he graduated B.A. on 4 March 1572–3, and M.A. on 1 June 1575. In 1578 he became prebendary of the collegiate church of Brecon; rector of Barton, Pembrokeshire, in 1578; vicar of Llanavon Vawr, Brecknockshire, in 1579; cursal prebendary of St. David's and rector of Angle or Nangle, Pembrokeshire, in 1580. In 1584 he was appointed chaplain to Sir John Perrot [q. v.], lord deputy of Ireland, and accompanied him to Dublin. By letters patent dated 13 June 1584 he was appointed dean of St. Patrick's. On 4 May 1586 he was presented to the living of Loughrea in the diocese of Clonfert, and also held the rectory of Killadorie in the diocese of Kildare. On 16 March 1586–7 he obtained license to visit England for four months. In 1589 he was promoted by patent dated 13 April to the see of Leighlin, which had been vacant for two years, and was consecrated by Adam Loftus [q. v.], archbishop of Dublin; he took possession on 30 April, holding his deanery in commendam, because the bishopric was not worth 50l. a year. Meredith rebuilt the see-house and surrounded it with a strong wall. Soon after Meredith's arrival in Ireland the question of diverting the revenues of St. Patrick's to establish a university at Dublin became the occasion of a bitter quarrel between Loftus and Perrot [see under Loftus, Adam, 1533?–1605]. Meredith sided with Perrot. He consequently shared in the odium which was lavished upon the lord-deputy, and was subsequently accused of complicity in the treasonable designs imputed to his patron (cf. Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1588–92, pp. 313, 350). On 10 June 1590 orders were received for his conveyance to England. He crossed on 9 Aug., was tried in the Star-chamber, fined 2,000l., and was a prisoner in the Fleet in March 1590–1. In the following year the fine was remitted on Meredith's granting the queen an annuity of three hundred marks for ten years, which was assigned to the chief baron of the exchequer, chief justice of common pleas, and master of the rolls. On 30 Jan. 1593–4 Meredith was again fined 20l. and imprisoned for eight days. His health was now failing, and orders were given that no new dean of St. Patrick's was to be appointed in case of Meredith's death until his fine was paid in full. He died in Dublin on 3 Aug. 1597, and was buried on 7 Aug. by the side of his brother John in St. Patrick's Cathedral, at a spot reserved for members of his family. His heirs erected a handsome monument to his memory, which was defaced in 1688, when James II's troops converted the cathedral into a stable; but a monument of black marble, with an inscription to his memory, has since been erected. By his will, dated 28 July, Meredith left considerable sums to the corporation of Dublin and to his children on condition of their preserving their chastity until marriage.

Meredith married Sarah Batho or Bathow, and had issue by her. His eldest son, Robert, was knighted by Strafford on 6 Sept. 1635, and became privy councillor and chancellor of the Irish exchequer. He and Sir Thomas Rotherham were the only privy councillors who met on 21 Oct. 1641 in obedience to the summons of Lord-justice Parsons upon the first intimation of the rebellion. In 1647 he was appointed with others to take over the government of Ireland, in place of James Butler, first duke of Ormonde [q. v.] Meredith's second son, Thomas, was also knighted, and settled at Dollardstown, co. Meath. His widow remarried Adam Loftus, first viscount Loftus of Ely [q. v.]

Another Richard Meredith (1559–1621), dean of Wells, born in 1559, was admitted scholar of Winchester School in 1573, of New College, Oxford, in 1576, and fellow of New College in 1578, probably graduating B.C.L. on 1 July 1584, and B.D. on 17 Nov. 1606. He became rector of St. Peter and St. Paul, Bath, and of Portishead, Somerset, king's chaplain and dean of Wells in 1607. On 11 and 25 Feb. 1606–7 he preached before the king at Whitehall, and subsequently published the two sermons in a single volume (London, 4to, 1606, by G. Eld for S. Waterson). He died on 15 Aug. 1621, and was buried in Wells Cathedral (cf. Nichols, Progresses of King James; Kirby, Winchester Scholars; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood, Fasti, i. 317; Fuller, Church Hist. ii. 367).

[Monk Mason's Deanery of St. Patrick's, pp. 175–7; Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1588–92, 1592–6 passim; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hib. ii. 97, 387; Ware's Antiquities, i. 462; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 841; Williams's Eminent Welshmen, pp. 328–9; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors, iii. 229–31; Ryan's County of Carlow; Archdall's Peerage, vii. 247.]

A. F. P.