Recorded as Meredith, and the English variants Merriday, Merredy and Merridew, this is one of the most famous and original names of Wales. It describes a descendant of Margetud, king of Dyfed in the 7th Century. The elements of the name derive from Olde Welsh and translate as great chief. As a personal name the origins are lost in the mists of time but it is certainly pre Roman, however the modern use of the name is commonly taken from Merdydd ap Bleddyn, prince of Powys who died in 1132. Other recordings include Richard Meredith, Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1584 - 1594, whilst Sir William Meredyth was First Baron Meredyth (1802 - 1873) in the peerage of Ireland, M.P. for Drogheda and a prominent supporter of William E. Gladstone. The coat of arms granted to Meredith, brother of Griffith Ap Conan, prince of North Wales, has the distinguished blazon of a quartered shield, argent and gules thereon four lions passant counterchanged of the field. The first recorded variant spelling of the family name is that of Thomas Merydewe in the Poll Tax register for the county of Yorkshire in 1379. A more recent variant being that of John Meredaye formerly known as John Meredith, at St Michaels Cornhill, in the city of London in 1598. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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