William Meredith was the second son of Frederick Meredith and Sarah Mason. He was born on 1 March 1807 at Castlereagh Street Sydney, which at the time was known as Chapel Row. The children who were born in early Sydney Town were referred to as Native and they later became Currency Lads and Lasses. The first generation born in the colony were said to be fairer and taller than their parents and well behaved, hence they do not appear on many records and information is harder to find.
In 1825, William applied to the police force, and on 6 June, it was recommended that he be appointed to the Liverpool Police. The letter recommending his appointment shows the name as we spell it today crossed out and in its place written Merrideath. Over the years the name has been changed from the Welsh way to our Meredith. William transferred to the Botany Bay district on 3 December 1827 to the position of Constable and Poundkeeper. Late in 1828, he returned to the Liverpool area and resigned from the police force in November of that year. When the 1828 Census was taken William was in the home of Thomas Colls, with William listed as a Constable. William was again appointed as Constable and Poundkeeper in April 1829, this time of Parramatta Road, and he remained in this position until his resignation in 1834. It appears he became a greengrocer at this time, as this is the occupation listed on his death certificate.
William married Sarah Ryan at St Marys Church on 25 August 1828. Sarah Ryan was the daughter of Michael Ryan and Elizabeth Fagan. Michael Ryan was a settler at Airds serving a life sentence. He may have been an Irish Rebel as no charge has been found. Elizabeth Fagan was a convict who had previously been married in England. Sarah’s older brother John was the Chief Constable of Parramatta, her younger brother Michael was a Constable in the same area and her sister Catherine married a Constable from Campbelltown. The witnesses at the ceremony were Frederic Meredith Junior, Michael Ryan, and Lawrence Darcy of Liverpool Road. At the time of his marriage William signed with a cross, which seems strange as his father and brother could write. Perhaps they were too busy to teach William, however later in his life he is able to write.
The children of Sarah and William began to arrive with the birth of Frederick Meredith on 24 December 1831, and second son George on 1 November 1834. Both are in the St. Marys records along with the birth of Sarah in 1840. Sarah died aged three years and it was not until a few years ago that it was discovered that another son, William, had been born before Sarah. His death certificate makes it clear that he was a son of William and Sarah. Four more children were born after Sarah. They were Charles Henry, Clara Elizabeth, Robert and James.
Sarah Ryan died on 9 June 1853, and is buried at St. Thomas Church of England Cemetery. Her youngest child was not yet two. Sarah had been baptised in St. Phillips on 30 March 1812, but when Father Therry arrived in the Colony he conducted the first baptism for the Catholic Church at Bunbury Curran. Sarah Ryan and her brothers are listed on page three of his diary. Also, her mother, Elizabeth Fagan, was admitted to the church. This would be the reason the first children were baptised Catholics. After her death, William took the four younger children to St. Thomas Church of England at Enfield and they were baptised there. Obviously there had been a problem with religion in the family.
Charlotte Eagling (nee Buckley) was a neighbour of William. Charlotte was the daughter of Alice Buckley and was born in Lancaster Castle Gaol after her mother was arrested for stealing while she was pregnant. She was cared for by the nuns and named Charlotta. Charlotte was sent to the Colony with her mother, on the Northhampton in 1815. Charlotte married Robert Eagling, a convict from Norwich, an inn keeper and pump repairer, and they had a large family. Robert died in December 1852, just seven months before Sarah Meredith.
On the 12 October 1853, William Meredith married Charlotte Buckley and on the 19 December 1853, George (son of William) married Ann (daughter of Charlotte). This meant a combined family of seven of William’s children, plus nine children of Charlotte, and when William and Charlotte had a daughter, Sophia, this would have meant the couple had seventeen children. It seems they all blended well as can be seen when George and Ann married and others in the family were witnesses at weddings. Charlotte also cared for one of her sister’s children.
William was listed as a policeman, a woodcutter, and green grocer when he died on 4 April 1878. At this time, he was living in Liverpool Road, Enfield. William had lived at Salt Pan Creek and worked the land for many years and it was not until Charlotte tried to subdivide and sell the land, they found they did not own it. The land had been sold by Frederick Meredith Snr. many years before, and unfortunately he had not told William of this. Frederick Meredith, the first son of William, was allowed to keep his part of the land because he had worked this land for so long thinking that it was his. Today, the old dairy which was part of the land grant in 1810 is known as Punchbowl Park.
William’s descendants have became well known as doctors, politicians, painters, union leaders, policemen, champion axe men, council workers, doctors, soldiers and its fair share of larrikins and through them all you will find a love of music and an ability to act and sing.
Written by Patricia Meredith
See list of Children of William Meredith