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Meredith, John Baldwin Hoystead (1864–1942)

by Elyne Mitchell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

John Baldwin Hoystead Meredith (1864-1942), soldier and doctor, was born on 11 November 1864 at Derrylough, Rosenallis, Queen's County, Ireland, seventh child of William Meredith, landowner, and his wife Annie, née Hoystead. The Merediths were a Welsh family. John was orphaned when he was 9 and was educated at Arlington College, Port Arlington. Unable to afford either an army commission or to play football for Ireland, in 1882-87 he studied medicine. In the leading hospitals in Dublin under the auspices of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, in 1888 he qualified as a licentiate of the Royal colleges of Surgeons and Physicians, Edinburgh, and of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow.

He hoped to marry and practise in Ireland but decided, after asking his fiancée if she would go to one of the colonies, to try for a passage as ship's doctor. Only after signing on did he realize he was going to Australia. He arrived in 1888 and bought a practice at Raymond Terrace, New South Wales. His fiancée, Harriett Eveline Waters of Kildare, arrived two years later, after her father, who had prevented her leaving, had died. They were married on the day she landed, 20 May 1890, in St Philip's Anglican Church, Sydney. Of their three children, Marjorie married (Lieutenant-General) (Sir) Iven Mackay.

Meredith became government medical officer for a large area. He had joined the Hunter River Light Horse and volunteered for the South African War, going as medical officer in the Citizen's Bushmen's Contingent in 1900. He served in Rhodesia, the Transvaal, Orange River Colony, Cape Colony and at the relief of Mafeking and was awarded the Queen's Medal with four clasps. In 1905, as second lieutenant, he formed a troop of light horse at Raymond Terrace, part of the 4th Light Horse Regiment; he was promoted captain in 1906 and major in 1908.

Meredith took his family to England and Ireland in 1908-09 and was attached to the 18th Hussars for training in Ireland. While overseas, he bought a bull calf and a cow in calf for his Leigh Jersey stud and also a motor car. In 1910 he commanded the 4th Light Horse Regiment; promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1911, he commanded the 6th L.H.R. (Hunter River Lancers) in 1912.

On the outbreak of World War I Meredith joined the Australian Imperial Force on 28 August 1914 in command of the 1st L.H.R. which fought dismounted on Gallipoli from May 1915 until the evacuation. In November he was temporary commander of the 1st Light Horse Brigade. In mid-January 1916, back in Egypt, the brigade was up the Nile from Cairo. In May Meredith commanded it in the Sinai desert while 'Fighting Charlie' Cox had sick leave. He was in command during the battle of Romani when his three regiments held back the Turks throughout the night of 3-4 August. (Sir) Henry Gullett, in his official history, wrote: 'by their calm and dogged work in the night Romani had virtually been won'. Later, 'in February [1917] the 4th Australian Light Horse Brigade was created in Egypt under Meredith, who had handled the 1st Light Horse Brigade so admirably at Romani'. Meredith was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in December 1916 and in February 1917 the Order of the White Eagle (Serbia). He was promoted colonel and temporary brigadier general in May 1917 and in November, just before the battle of Beersheba, he embarked for Australia for 'family reasons'. His A.I.F. appointment ended on 3 January 1918. In 1921 he commanded the 2nd Cavalry Brigade, Australian Military Forces, and he retired in 1923 as honorary brigadier general.

Meredith was a well-built, athletic man, with a great zest for life. He was successful and popular in medical practice. His Jersey stud was of great interest to him and he became vice-president of the Jersey Herd Society of New South Wales. He loved animals and had many pets, usually about nine dogs, retrievers, setters and pointers. After his wife's death, he married 20-year-old Alice Christina Mowbray Windeyer on 19 October 1921, at St John's Anglican Church, Raymond Terrace. Meredith died at Maitland on 1 January 1942 and was cremated. He was survived by a son and two daughters of his first marriage, and by his wife and four young sons.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • H. S. Gullett, Sinai and Palestine (Syd, 1939)
  • G. W. Nutting, History of the Fourth Light Horse Brigade, AIF (Brisb, 1953)
  • records (Australian War Memorial)
  • private information.

Citation details

Elyne Mitchell, 'Meredith, John Baldwin Hoystead (1864–1942)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/meredith-john-baldwin-hoystead-7559/text13191, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 13 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (MUP), 1986

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