Kimmitt Genealogical Research

09 February 2015

Week #5 of 52 Ancestors: Rev. Robert Fitzgerald Meredith of Dicksgrove, Co. Kerry

I'm finding it nearly impossible to write about some of my favorite ancestors simply because I have too much information on them for one little blog post. So just be aware, family members reading this, that there is more information! And genealogists, there is more evidence, so hush, now. You'll be the first to know when I write "the book."

"Landed Estates," database, Estate: Meredith (Dysert); NUI Galway (
LandedEstates/jsp/estate-show.jsp?id=1969 : accessed 8 February 2015).
My husband's great-great-grandfather, Rev. Robert Fitzgerald Meredith (ca. 1815-1893), was born in Dicksgrove, near Farranfore, Co. Kerry, Ireland. (1) He was from a long line of Irish landholders, and several of his Meredith ancestors had served as High Sheriff of Kerry. (2) But the family nearly lost everything in the tumultuous nineteenth century, as many landowners did, when the taxes and cost of maintaining the land sent many of them scrambling (to bankruptcy court). I bet Dicksgrove was lovely in its time.

As far as I know there is no link to my own FitzGerald lines, but you can see in this map that Farranfore is only ten kilometers from my grandparents' ancestral homes of Castlemaine and Milltown, at the base of the Dingle Peninsula. I wouldn't be surprised to find that we are related, but I haven't yet been able to jump the 1793 chasm before which time it was illegal for Roman Catholics to keep records due to the Penal Laws.

County Kerry, at the base of the Dingle Peninsula
Robert's father William was a principal lessor in Castleisland and Killeentierna, during the time of Griffith's Valuation. His over 3000-acre  estate, including Dicksgrove House, was offered for sale in the Encumbered Estates Court in June of 1855 but was later withdrawn. Some was sold in the Landed Estates Court, but finally in the 1930s the entire estate was sold to the tenants who had been farming it for years. Dicksgrove House was completely demolished but some of the stable buildings and gate lodges remain. (3)

Robert was the second son and because of the laws of primogeniture he would not have inherited the estate. He instead went off to Oxford University where he obtained a Master of Arts and took a position as rector and vicar of the parish of Halstock in Dorset by 1849. (4)
"Halstock," Dorset OPC, website; :
accessed8 February 2015)
He married Mary Russell Cox, the daughter of Samuel Cox and Vertue Russell, in Beaminster, Dorset, 26 August 1852. (5). They went on to have six sons, the first five in really close succession:
1. Robert Fitzgerald, b. ca 1855
2. William Henry Fitzgerald, b. ca. 1856
3. Richard Fitzgerald, b. 31 January 1857, died 4 June 1931 (line carrier)
4. Charles Fitzgerald, b. ca. 1859
5. John Fitzgerald, b. ca. 1860
6. Maurice Fitzgerald, b. ca. 1867 (6)

Then, of course, in 1868, their mother, Mary Russell (Cox) Meredith, died. (7) She could have died from anything, but my first thought was it was probably from "puerpural fever" (complications of childbirth), but is it also quite likely she perished from exhaustion. I only had half that many boys and it was a challenge. Indeed, without the fine health care we enjoy today, I would have perished in childbirth.

Rev. Meredith had sons to raise and surely needed help. In 1871 he was in Portland House with a very full household consisting of his six sons with ages that calculate to the above estimated dates, plus
   John R. Meredith, nephew, visitor, 28 years old, b. Ireland
   James G. Clarke, Tutor, unmarried, 22, b. Leicestershire
   James Richards, servant, unmarried, 27 years old, b. Devon
   Mary Gale, servant, unmarried, 45 years old, b. Ireland
   Charlotte Eastment, servant, widow, 31, b. Dorset (7)

Flash forward to 1881 when he has married Charlotte (8) and they have three children of their own, plus two she brought to the marriage! (9) Why, it's like an episode of Downton Abbey! Think of how far he descended the social ranks from the time he was born in 1815 to the time he married, gasp, a servant! So I'm going to call him by the pet name of Branson now.

He died in the parsonage at Yeovil, in Halstock, and was buried in Halstock on 30 May 1893. (9)

These English ancestors left so many records in their wake it's an embarrassment of riches––so unlike my simple farmer ancestors. It becomes more a matter of compilation than sleuthing and analyzing. This little blog prompt of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is serving its purpose in getting me to touch on some of those ancestors whom I've neglected. But there are wills, land records, and an incredible amount of riches ahead for me to explore in the Parish Chest.


1. Bernard Burke, Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland, 2 vols, 4th ed. (London, np, 1863), 2:1005. Also, Robert Fitzgerald Meredith, “Petition for Barony of Herbert of Chirbury,” photocopy given to author by Rosemary Kimmitt, in author's files. Also, "England and Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915," Robert Fitzgerald Meredith, Beaminster, Dorset, 5a:229; ( : 27 Mar 2011); at 77 years.

2. Burke's Peerage, 1005.

3. "Landed Estates," database, Estate: Meredith (Dysert); NUI Galway ( : accessed 8 February 2015).

4. "England, Extracted Parish and Court Records," Meredith, Robert Fitzgerald, 1849: Dispens. R. East Chelborough, perp. cur. Halstock, Dorset; 16:438; Ancestry ( : accessed 7 February 2015). From the Collection "England: Canterbury -- Index to the Act Books of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 1663-1859 (L-Z)."

5. "England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936," index and images, St. Mary's, Beaminster, Marriages,
 Robt Fitzgerald Meredith and Mary Russell Cox, 26 Aug 1852; FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2015); Marriage, citing Dorset, England, Record Office, Dorchester; FHL microfilm 2,427,436.

6. 1871 UK census, Dorset, Halstock, p. 20, n. 87, Portland House, household of Robert F. Meredith; Findmypast ( : accessed on a day that, alas, I neglected to note, but the file date is 27 March 2011, so let's go with that).

7. "England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936," index and images, Beaminster, Burials, Mary Russell Meredith, 13 Jun 1868; FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 February 2015); citing Holy Trinity, Beaminster, Dorset, England, Record Office, Dorchester; FHL microfilm 2,427,468. Also, "England and Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915," Mary Russell Meredith, Beaminster, Dorset, Somerset, 1868, 2nd Q, at 41 years, 5a:248; Ancestry ( : 27 Mar 2011).

8. 1881 UK Census, Halstock, Dorset, England, piece 2119, folio 27, p. 10, household of Robert F Meredith; FindMyPast ( : accessed 8 February 2015).

9. "England and Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915," Robert Fitzgerald Meredith, Beaminster, Dorset, 5a:229; Ancestry ( : 27 Mar 2011). Also, "England, Dorset, Parish Registers, 1538-1936," index and images, Halstock, Burials, Robert Meredith, 30 May 1893; FamilySearch ( : accessed 8 February 2015); citing Halstock, Halstock, Dorset, England, Record Office, Dorchester; FHL microfilm 2,427,496.


GeniAus said...

It was great to meet you in person in Salt Lake City this weekend, Polly. As a result I searched out your blog.

I'm so pleased I found it.

Polly F. Kimmitt said...

Thanks, Jill! I was pleased to finally meet you!