Frederick Edmund Meredith

Frederick Edmund Meredith (January 16 1862 – November 23 1941) K.C., D.C.L. was Chancellor of Bishop's University, Lennoxville.

Early Life

Born at Quebec City, he was christened at the English Cathedral there. Meredith was the youngest son of Chief Justice The Hon. Sir William Collis Meredith (1812-1894) Kt., Q.C., D.C.L. of Quebec, by his wife Sophia Naters Holmes (1820-1898), the youngest daughter of William Edward Holmes (1796-1825) Esq. M.D., of Quebec. His middle name was given to him after his uncle, Edmund Allen Meredith (1817-1899), and he was also a godson of his father's first cousin Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell (1814-1881). Meredith's father also included amongst his first cousins Sir James Creed Meredith (the father of Judge James Creed Meredith of Dublin) and John Walsingham Cooke Meredith (1809-1881) J.P., the father of 'The Eight London Merediths', with whom Meredith was more intimately associated with. They included Sir Vincent Meredith, Charles Meredith and Sir William Ralph Meredith.

* William Collis Meredith, 1861 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=I-1131.1&Lang=1&imageID=212609]

* Sophia Naters (Holmes) Meredith, 1865 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=I-15765.1&Lang=1&imageID=236249]

* Edmund Allen Meredith, 1863 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=I-7588&Lang=1&imageID=142772]

Career

F.E (as he was popularly known) was initially educated privately in Quebec and then in France before returning to Canada to read law at Bishop's University, Lennoxville (B.A., M.A.) and then Université Laval, Quebec City (LL.B., LL.L., LL.M., LL.D.). He was called to the Bar of Quebec in 1884, commencing his career as a corporation barrister at Montreal.

* F.E. Meredith in fancy dress for the Castanet Club Ball, 1886 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=II-79844.1&Lang=1&imageID=182587]

Meredith and his two closest friends (Charles Sandwich Campbell and James Bryce Allan) took over from the ageing Sir John Abbott and The Hon. William Badgely becoming the senior partners of Montreal's most influential law firm, that from 1898 became known as Campbell, Meredith & Allan. Created a Q.C. in 1899, he became syndic of the Bar of Montreal in 1904/05, Councillor and Trustee of the Montreal Bar Association, and in May 1906 he was a delegate of the Montreal Bar to the General Council of the Province, along with another best friend, Aime Geoffrion. In 1907 he was elected Batonnier of the Bar of Montreal. He twice turned down offers to sit on the bench preferring to maintain his many business connections with his clients.

* F.E. Meredith sketched in 1922 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=M20111.23&Lang=1&imageID=232464]

His personal popularity, derived from ‘graciousness of manner and sincerity of feeling’, and intimate association with many of Canada's larger business concerns made him a desirable addition to the boards of a number of the country’s foremost corporations. While still in practice he sat on the boards of many client companies including : the Bank of Montreal, The Royal Trust Company, Canadian Pacific Railway and Shipping Ltd., Standard Life of Edinburgh, The National Steel Car Corporation, Canadian Cottons Ltd., National Liverpool Insurance Company (England), Montreal & General Investor Ltd., The Banker's Trust Company and the Liverpool, London & Globe Insurance Company in England. When the National City Company of New York had a subsidiary in Montreal he was chosen as a member of the advisory board of that concern.

Bishop's and Laval University

His interest in various educational and cultural undertakings was well known, particularly in the progress and welfare of Bishop’s University. His numerous and high powered connections made him an ideal candidate to be elected as that university's eighth Chancellor in 1926, serving until 1932. His interest in the university had never faded since he himself had graduaed from there in 1883. The ‘F.E. Meredith Prize’ at Bishop’s University was endowed after his death by his son W.C.J. Meredith, awarded to the student graduating in an English programme who writes the best English. F.E also donated the ‘Meredith Cup’ which is competed for annually amongst the golfers of the college. He and his two former partners, Campbell and Allan, also endowed the 'Prix Jette', awarded annually to the best student in civil law at their shared alma mata, Laval University.

* Frederick Edmund Meredith, Chancellor of Bishop's University, Lennoxville [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?accessnumber=VIEW-25271&Lang=1&imageID=159352]

In 1904 Laval University conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws (D.C.L.)" honoris causa". To commemorate the event, Meredith instituted a scholarship payable each year to the graduating student of the law faculty who obtained the highest marks.

Marriage and Family

In 1903 Meredith married Anne Madeleine (1863-1945), daughter of Matthew Robert VanKoughnet (1824-1874) of Cornwall and Toronto, Barrister and Bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, and a brother of the Chancellor of Upper Canada (two of the sons of Colonel The Hon. Philip VanKoughnet). She was the widow of the ‘extremely philanthropic’ Francis Wolferstan Thomas (1834-1900), by whom she had three children, Guy Wolferstan, Amorel Macaulay and Shearme VanKoughnet Thomas. Mrs Meredith's mother, Elizabeth Hagerman Macaulay (1826-1899), was a daughter of barrister George Macaulay (1796-1828), and a niece of Colonel The Hon. John Simcoe Macaulay (1791-1855), R.E., and Colonel The Hon. Sir James Buchanan Macaulay (1793-1859).

He and his wife ‘mutually consented to separate’ in 1913, leaving one son : William Campbell James Meredith (1904-1960) Q.C., D.C.L., of Montreal who married in 1935 Marie Berthe Louise Françoise de Lotbiniere-Harwood (1913-2001) daughter of the Dean of the University of Montreal and the President of the Notre Dame Hospital, Louis de Lotbiniere-Harwood (1866-1934) Esq. M.D., of Vaudreuil and Montreal, who was the son of Henry Stanislas Harwood M.P., of Vaudreuil (History of the de Lotbiniere Harwoods at Vaudreuil, [http://www.histoirequebec.qc.ca/publicat/vol7num2/v7n2_1se.htm] )

In Montreal, Mrs Meredith had served with Lady Brenda Meredith (the wife of Sir Vincent Meredith) as a Governor of the Montreal Maternity Hospital. When they separated in 1913 she moved to England, living in Knightsbridge, London. During World War I she served with the Canadian Red Cross at Moor Park Convalescent Home for Canadian Officers in Devonshire.

In 1942 Mrs Meredith went on a visit to her daughter, Shearme, who was living with her husband, Colonel J.L. Philips, at Philips Hall, Abbey Cwmhir, Wales. Whilst there she fell ill and eventually died there three years later on 27th July, 1945. A funeral service was held for her at Penybont, where there is a bench in her memory. She was survived by her four children and two of her sisters, Mrs Frank May of Montreal, and Lady Casimir Van Straubenzee of London and Yorkshire.

Personal Life

Meredith had been a noted sportsman. He rode and hunted with his cousins in Montreal, England and Ireland. He also raced with the old Montreal Jockey Club. As a young man he played ice hockey, and after he stopped playing he was the honorary president of the Montreal Victorias when they won the Stanley Cup in 1895, 1896 and 1897. He later sponsored a team for the office boys in his firm.

* Fred Meredith at centre with the Stanley Cup winning Montreal Victorias, 1897 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/


]

He fished, shot, played croquet, golf and tennis (which he was still playing in his late seventies). He was a keen racquets player (his brother, Edward Graves Meredith, was co-owner of the Quebec Racquet Club), and a Dominion finalist on one occasion. He frequently represented Canada in competitions against the United States and in 1897 he won the championship of the Montreal Racquet Club, and was the runner-up in 1898. When he was younger he developed a keen interest in photography, and at one stage even considered an apprenticeship with William Notman.

* One of Meredith's early photographs showing his father in his study c. 1890 [http://www.mccord-museum.qc.ca/scripts/large.php?Lang=1&accessnumber=II-264846.1&imageID=292121]

Amongst the many clubs he belonged to in Montreal, Meredith served as President of three of them; the Mount Royal Club, the Montreal Racquet Club and the University Club. In England he belonged to the St. James', Travellers, Marlborough and British Empire clubs.

Obituaries

F.E. Meredith was frequently described as ‘the most colourful and prominent figure’ of the Montreal Bar and ‘one of the most eminent personalities not only in the Quebec Bar but in the whole of Canada’ (La Revue du Barreau, 1941). He died shortly before his eightieth birthday (‘birthdays are not the kind of thing one wants to commemorate’ he once said), after an illness of several weeks. He passed away at his home on Pine Avenue shortly after eleven o’clock of that morning, predominantly of old age. Dr Oertel of Montreal wrote ‘an appreciation’ of his friend that was published in "The Times" of London in 1941,

The death of Frederick Edmund Meredith K.C., D.C.L., LL.D., has removed an outstanding Canadian who combined in a rare degree fine British traditions with Canadian outlook in a new world. May I just pay a personal tribute? Few men are able to impress others by the qualities of their individuality as Meredith did. Rather serious in his outlook on things and events, yet with a charming touch of Puck and Ariel in his nature, he united the imagination of his Irish ancestry with a sense of reality, responsibility and sympathetic feeling for others to a rare degree. To help those who were in difficulties was a joy and reward to him; his friendship was unbounded. Emotional to a high degree, he never expressed a vicious thought, and I knew him intimately for nearly 30 years. He had many friends on both sides of the Atlantic, and Privy Council cases brought him frequently to London. Whoever met him felt the better for it and wished more. I imagine that there are not many men who may warm both hands at the fire of life and combine the dignity and joy of living as Fred Meredith did.

Meredith's funeral was one of the largest ever seen in Montreal, and the practice division of the courts was closed for the day. He was buried in the Meredith plot at Mount Royal Cemetery, Montreal, next to his cousins, Sir Vincent Meredith and Charles Meredith and their wives.

References

The History of McMaster Meighen (1989) by Doug Mitchell & Judy Slinn

McGill University Archives, Montreal

Bishop's University Archives, Lennoxville


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