Select Mead Miscellany

Here are some Mead stories and accounts over the years:

Mead, Meade and Meads Today

Numbers (000's)
   12       3



From de Prato to Mead

Spencer P. Mead’s 1901 History and Genealogy of the Mead Family started with the Norman name de Prato, meaning “of the meadow,” from whence came the English surname Mead.

“In 1180 to 1195 there was to be found in the ancient Norman records the names of William, Robert, Matilda, and Reginald de Prato, and in 1198 the names of Richard, and Robert de Prato.  In 1199 in Essex occurred the name of Roger de Prato and the same year also that of Walter de Prato in Hertfordshire; and in 1272 there were recorded Stephen and Peter de Prato.

Hervey de Prato in 1200 in Normandy was King John’s ‘Faithful Knight’ and the custody of Rouen Castle was given to his brother."

The Meagh Family in Ireland

Where did the Meagh name come from?  One Irish source has its origin in the Gaelic word midheac (pronounced mee-ach), which in the mutations of time became Miache, Miagh, Meagh, and finally Meade.

According to the Irish surname historian Edward MacLysaght, the Meagh family was among the leading families of county Cork from the beginning of the 14th century.  The earliest recorded was Philip Meagh of Buttevant who lived   from 1315 to 1361.  MacLysaght thought that this family may have originated in county Meath after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1170 and later settled in Cork and Limerick.

It was unlikely that they had come from Bristol to Cork.  Rather, it may have been the other way round.  Being rich landowners, merchants and ship-owners the Irish Meaghs set up a branch office in Bristol to run their affairs.  It was the Bristol Meades who would then have anglicized their name.

Their ancestral seat was Meaghstown castle in Cork where they had been settled for centuries.  The records show that between 1379 and 1637 twelve of the mayors of the city of Cork were from this family.

Family fortunes suffered during the tumultuous 17th century.  Their estates were forfeit in 1645 with Cromwell, regained in 1661 with the Restoration, and then lost again in 1691.  J.E. Meade’s 1953 book The Meades of Meaghstown Castle and Tissaxon covered the family history until 1766.

John Mead, the Last of the Wendon Lofts Line

Little did John Mead know when he married Jane, the daughter of William Wardour of Westminster, that he would be the last of the Mead family to live in Lofts Hall.

When his son Thomas was born on 6 July 1674, "between one and two a clock in the morning" he must have felt pleased to have secured an heir. But, though he was baptised on 12 July, hopes were dashed when he died in August of the following year.

Jane was again pregnant and must have wished for a boy as she stood in the church at the firstborn's funeral.  But a little more than two weeks later she gave birth to a girl, Jane.  The parson records that she was born "on Thursday August 26th 1675 within a quarter of an hour of twelve a clock at noon."  She lived and was followed by the birth of her sister Margaret, but there was no son and heir.

When John died in 1715 at the age of 63, his Essex property passed to Jane and Margaret, to be equally divided.  Jane had married a London merchant, John Whaley.  But Margaret had reversed the position of her ancient Somerset kinswoman, Isabel Mede, by marrying a man of lower rank - William Pytches, a joiner from nearby Chrishall.

Benjamin, Ralph and Staats Mead in New York

Edmund Mead, the forebear of the Mead family of New York merchants, lived in Greenwich (once called Horse Neck) and had come from an old Connecticut Mead family.  He was a wealthy farmer there. 

However, by his extravagant tastes and habits, he had made a shipwreck of himself and his property.  His wife and family returned to her father's house where they were cared for until the sons were old enough to look after themselves.  These sons then came to New York, with the exception of one who was left at the Connecticut farm and homestead on the death of their father.

The eldest son Solomon died in New York of yellow fever in 1798.  But the next three sons – Benjamin, Ralph and Staats- all prospered there as merchants.  Curiously their wives Eliza, Sarah and Lydia were all Holmes, sisters in the same family.   Initially all three families lived close to each other near the Mead business premises at Coenties Slip.

In time the Meads moved uptown.  When the four elegant brick row houses were constructed on Second Avenue in 1838 for the three brothers, that area had become one of the most prestigious residential neighborhoods in the city.  Nearby were the homes of the Stuyvesants, Hamiltons, and other prominent families.   The four matching homes in the new Greek Revival style featured stately brownstone porticos supported by fluted Ionic columns and sheltering grand double-entrance doors.  Long parlor windows opened onto cast iron balconies.

Ralph Mead, a well-known wholesale grocer in New York, stayed on at Second Avenue until his wife died and he decided to retire.  In 1859 he moved uptown again to West 34th Street.  His brother Brockholst, once was a clerk in the City Bank, was an aged bachelor who lived nearby.

Mead's Mountain House in the Catskills

George Mead was the original owner and builder of the Mountain House, whose family name is memorialized in the legacy of the gracious Catskill guesthouse and the winding mountain road which leads to the scenic destination. 

A native of Ridgefield, Connecticut, Mead ran a successful silversmith business in Kingston, New York until failing health forced him to turn his talents to farming.  He built the original front section of the house in 1865 and subsequently moved his family to the mountain-top farm. 

Mead later opened his home to summer guests.  As they became more numerous and frequent he began adding rooms.  He gradually transformed the small farmhouse into the spacious, rambling summer hotel known as Mead's Mountain House.  A broad porch wrapped around the front and one side of the hotel, overlooking a croquet lawn and tennis courts. 

Three generations of Meads were hosts to summer guests for over one hundred years. In George's day, it took a team of four horses to pull the guest carriage up the road. Most of the guests came via the Hudson river by ferry from New York City.  Many famous and distinguished people spent their vacations at the Mead's Mountain House. According to records, there were as many as 65 guests at one time. 

In 1948 the Mead family sold the property to Captain Salva Milo, a Yugoslavian pilot who had served in the United States Air Force.  Milo and his wife maintained the hotel until she died, whereupon Milo put the property up for sale.  A great deal of time would pass before the old hotel would take on a new role which could never have been envisioned by the previous owners.  The Meads Mountain House was to become a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery and Retreat Center

Cowles Mead in Clinton, Mississippi

Cowles Mead, born in 1776, was said to have moved from Virginia to Mississippi to marry his first love.  When he got to Clinton she changed her mind and married another man.  However, she did name her first child after Mead.  This son, Cowles Mead Vaiden, was the man after whomVaidentownship in Mississippi was named.

Mead himself left and moved to Georgia where he got involved in politics. After losing a congressional seat in Georgia, the President appointed him the Territorial Secretary of the Mississippi Territory, as well as the acting Territorial Governor during the absences of the elected Governor.  At this time Mead’s greatest fame came from his determination to arrest Aaron Burr after he had shot Alexander Hamilton and fled to Mississippi.

Later in his career he lost several elections for various posts, but built his home, Meadvilla, in the state’s first capitol.  He subsequently moved back to Clinton and built the Greenwood plantation where he died in 1844

Roland Meade's Death in Canada in 1879

The following appeared in the Daily Free Press of Winnipeg on May 5, 1879:

“R.P. Meade, a well-known Winnipeger, died at noon today in the hospital to which place he went last Friday.  Mr. Meade was possessed of considerable literary abilities and as an artist he was very clever.  Like many other men of generous disposition, he was his own worst enemy.”

Roland Meade in fact died of lead poisoning at the young age of 42.  His wife Mary, a Metis woman, remarried and moved away after his death.  Meade Street in the North End of Winnipeg was named after him.

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