We cannot improve on the following from E A Merryweather.
By Kind permission of his Grandson Mark Merryweather.
The Merryweather Family. Origins of the name:
The Merryweather's and all variations of the surname (e.g. Merewether, Merriwether, etc...) can trace the origin of the name to a small village in Kent, England called Mereworth. The name Mereworth could have an ancient meaning of "place by the water". It has nothing whatsoever to do with climate or happy.
The family originally had the name Tristram. The head of the family declared on the eve of a battle that if he won he'd change the name of the family to St. Lawrence to honour the name of the saint on who's day the battle fell. He won and the family name was changed to St. Lawrence.
The St. Lawrence family moved to Mereworth. Eventually those who lived there were known as being from Mereworth (de Mereworth) or Mereworthers. One of our family members William de Mereworth was in the Crusades and his coat of arms dated from 1190 bears a red chevron on a gold background with ten Jerusalem crosses. A copy of this shield can be found in Canterbury Cathedral. If you visit Mereworth today you will find an Anglican Church named St. Lawrence and one will find Merryweather tombstones in the cemetery.
Merryweather's can be found in most English speaking countries especially the United States, Canada and Australia. There are Merryweather's that made there way to Europe and can be found in Switzerland, Italy and France. One relative of mine until recently lived in Fiji.
Two books were written on the Merryweather family in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Rev E A Merryweather (Marks grandfather)
SOME NOTES ON THE FAMILY OF MERRYWEATHER OF ENGLAND AND AMERICA,
The Research Publishing Company, London, England, circa 1958. (250 copies printed)
An excerpt from the book:
Certain members of the Merryweather family from America spent about a month in London at the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1897. They came across a building, during their perambulations round the city, with a sign over the door Merryweather and Co. So the American cousins introduced themselves; they had a long "visit" together. The younger of the party from America remarked how exactly alike his father was to the London Merryweather's. "But why do you spell your name differently to us, in America? he asked, not knowing all the different forms which the name has assumed since the 14th century. But seeing that it was three London Merryweather's who went to America in Charles the 2nd's reign, the similarity of type is not surprising.
MERRYWEATHER IN KENT
THE Saxon name for Mereworth was Meranwyrthe, and it is from this Saxon form that the name Merryweather has been derived. In the time of the Saxon King Edgar, 959-975, Meranwyrthe was one of the estates which was liable for work and supplying the labour for Rochester Bridge: "The Bishop of Rochester undertakes to construct the land piers at the Eastern extremity, and to provide planks, for eight poles. I King Edgar with the symbol of the Holy Cross, enjoin that this shall be very earnestly established and confirmed."
In Doomsday Book Mereworth is spelt Marourde. In Textus Roffensis 1140-1150 it is written Maeruutha, and also Meranwyrthe. Terra Hamonis Vicecomitis. Ipse Haimo tenet Marourde, Norman tenerit de Rege E. (i.e., Edward the Confessor.)
At the Norman Conquest Mereworth was granted to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux. After his disgrace, it became the property of Hamo Crevequer. In 1066 and in 1086 it was assessed at two Sulungs. i.e., Four hundred acres. There is land for nine ploughs on the demesne, i.e., The Home Farm or Manor. There are two and twenty-eight villeins with fifteen Bordars, i.e., Cottagers. The villeins have ten ploughs, mainly cultivating their own lands, for which they paid rent in the form of so much labour on their Lord's land.
Attached to the Home Farm there is a Church, and ten Serfs and two Mills, worth ten shillings, and two Fisheries worth two shillings. There are twenty acres of meadow, and as much woodland as yields sixty swine for pannage. In King Edward's time, it was worth twelve pounds. Afterwards, under the new owner, ten pounds, and now in 1086 nineteen pounds.
In Phillpot's Kent we are informed that Mereworth gave seat and surname to a worthy family of gentlemen whose ancestor Eustace de Mereworth branched out from a family called St. Lawrence.
Gilbert de Glanvil, Bishop of Rochester, 1185-1214, states "The Manor and Castle of Mereworth gave surname and residence to a very eminent family." This Bishop erected the Cathedral Buildings, which had perished in the fire of 1179. He built the stone Cloisters, and rebuilt the Bishop's Palace.
Eustace de Mereworth branched out from a family called St. Lawrence. If we look back in our English History we find in Ireland an Anglo-Norman occupation of the East and South Coasts, between 1169 and 1171. This enterprise was carried into effect by certain Welsh Marcher Lords who, with the consent of King Henry II, had taken service under Dermot, King of Neath; King Henry II landed in Ireland in 1171, and was declared Lord of Ireland.
The following account, though brief, explains the reason for assuming the name of St. Lawrence:
"This ancient and noble family, which is of English extraction, was originally named "Tristram", till on St. Lawrence's Day the first Lord, Sir Almericus, being sent to command an army against the Danes, near Clontarf, he made a vow to that Saint that if he got the victory, he and his posterity, in honour thereof, should bear the name of St. Lawrence, which has continued to this time, and the sword wherewith he fought is now hanging up, at the great Hall at Howth, The Seat of the present Lord: and what is very remarkable in this family, the estate and Baroney they now enjoy, they have possessed near six hundred years, without the least increasing, or diminishing, during which time there never was an attainder in it. His valour and conduct was so remarkable and the fight so successful, that the lands and title of Howth, were allotted to him, for his part in the conquest. In this engagement, he lost seven sons, uncles and nephews, and had three large wounds, which caused his life to be despaired of. In 1189 upon the removal of Sir John Courcy from the government by King Richard I, and substituting Hugh Lacy in his room, the Irish resolved to gain their country.
"Sir Almeric being then in Connaught with thirty knights and two hundred foot, was desired to repair to the assistance of Sir John Courcy: but O'Connor, King of Connaught, opposing his March, all the horsemen killed their horses that they might not be tempted to flight.
NOTE Not all Merry's believe that they all come from one Family, but it is good story!
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