The founder of the Frederick Meredith Descendants’ Group, Alfred Raymond (Ray) Meredith (1913 – 1990) had a deep interest in his family’s history. He was born in Mullumbimby where his parents were farming and was aged seven when his father died. Shortly afterwards, the family returned to 371 Hume Highway Bankstown, his father’s birthplace on the Meredith grant. The house was called Gunsborough after the name bestowed on the grant by Frederick Meredith. Ray was a life member of the Fellowship of the First Fleeters and was widely known and respected in genealogical and historical circles. His son Jack shared his interest and assisted with research. In late 1971, Ray placed a notice in the Fellowship of the First Fleeters Newsletter advising that a dinner was to be held at Tattersall’s Club on 26 February 1972 for descendants of Frederick Meredith. This notice encouraged various people who were, or believed themselves to be descendants, to correspond.
Ray corresponded with many people in the years that followed who had heard of his interest in forming a group. In 1982, encouraged by these contacts, he placed notices in the Fellowship of First Fleeters Newsletter seeking more descendants. He was supported by Bill Riedy who played a big part in maintaining the early momentum. He inserted an item in the August / September 1984 issue.
On 11 December 1984, he sent a notice to the names of those interested in the Meredith Family Group advising of a visit to Garden Island on 6 January 1985, to look at the initials of Frederick Meredith. The visit had been arranged by Ken and Jane Meredith of Asquith. A picnic lunch was held afterwards at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This inaugural gathering was attended by about 40 people. Encouraged by this response, Bill Riedy wrote on 21 February 1985 to the early “members” of the Group, saying that a suggestion had been made that the first major get together be held on 23 June 1986, the 150 anniversary of Frederick Meredith’s death. The meet was to be at Parramatta Park on 2 June 1985 and take the form of a picnic. Its purpose was to plan for the 1986 get together and “work out what to do in 1988 for the Bicentenary”. On 16 April 1985, a notice was placed in the RSVP column of the Sydney Morning Herald and shortly after, in the FFF Newsletter.
THE FIRST COMMITTEE
The first committee was soon established and its members were Ray Meredith, Ken Meredith, Joan Goldsmith, Val Maher, Paul Maher and Neville Bryce. Ray Meredith took the title of Convenor. He wrote to Committee members advising that he “would like to hold a meeting of the Committee on Saturday 31 August 1985 at “Gunsborough”371 Hume Highway Bankstown to discuss a gathering of descendants on Sunday 22 June 1986 at Liverpool”.
In November 1985, the Group issued its first news sheet, called Frederick Meredith Descendants’ Group Newsletter. It was prepared by Ray Meredith and said that the inspection of Garden Island had been arranged for Sunday 1 December 1985. This was to be followed by a picnic lunch at Centennial Park. It also mentioned that “the Committee elected at the Parramatta Park gathering has met and discussed various aspects of future activities, in particular, our 1986 remembrance of the 150th anniversary of the death of Frederick Meredith.” It asked for a donation of $5 per family to cover the cost of stationery and postage. The next Committee meeting was held on 8 February 1986 at Ray Meredith’s home. It was attended by the original Committee members plus Jack Meredith who had been teaching in England and had recently returned to Australia. He wrote the Minutes for the meeting. They were probably the first Minutes kept of the Group’s Committee meetings. Committee meetings were held in 1986 and 1987, usually at members’ homes although two meetings were held at E G Whitlam Centre, Liverpool. A second FMDG Newsletter was issued in April 1986 advising members of the Liverpool activities to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Frederick Meredith, to be held on 22 June 1986. There does not appear to be any record of Committee meetings held during 1988 and 1989, although meetings took place during this period to discuss and plan various activities including:
24 January 1988: The Garrison Church, Old Pioneers’ Service
26 January 1988: Australia Day
14 February 1988: Garden Island Open Day
17–18 September 1988: Australian Pioneer Families, Castle Hill Showground
The Committee held regular meetings from 1990 to 2003. On 26 October 1991, Liverpool Regional Museum became the permanent meeting place for meetings. At this meeting, honorary titles were conferred on some members to describe their responsibilities. These were Secretary, Treasurer, Editor and Public Relations. Ray Meredith (Kahibah) was appointed President in June 1993.
Over the years, many people have served on the Committee These include A R (Ray) Meredith, Ken Meredith, Joan Goldsmith, Val Maher, Paul Maher, Jane Meredith, Royce Goldsmith, Jack Meredith, June and Jack Mackie, Cec Thompson, Ann Heylbut, Dorothy Wicks, Gloria Meredith, Norman Meredith, Flo and Neville Bryce, Pat Hankin, Pamela Sadler, Don and Sue Newbury, Val O’Shea, Tony Katon, Marilyn Ayres and Sally Mayo