Royal Reels: Gambling


This cover was found in Freeman & White’s The Numeral Cancellations of Victoria (2001) where it served as an example of a Victorian Barred Numeral. It shows the 2d and 4d Laureates of Victoria cancelled by a duplex of TALBOT/ JN 25/ 72/ VICTORIA with the B.N. 244. The letter is addressed to The Honble Charles Meredith, Malunnah, Orford, Tasmania and there is a manuscript ‘27′ in crayon (Figure 1).

Charles Meredith, the youngest son of George Meredith and his wife Sarah Hicks, was born in Pembroke, Wales on 29 May 1811, and his parents decided to migrate to Tasmania, arriving in Hobart on 13 March 1821. Charles assisted his father in farming for some time but left for New South Wales in 1834 and took up land near the Murrumbidgee River. He visited England in 1838 and on 18 April 1839 he married his cousin, Louisa Ann Twamley. They returned to Australia in the Letitia in June 1839, stayed for two years in N.S.W. (where he had heavy financial losses in the depression), and then returned to Tasmania.

In 1843 he was appointed a police magistrate at Sorell and he became a Member of the Legislative Council for the electorate of Glamorgan on 19 March 1855, a position held until 1856, when the seat was abolished, due to a parliamentary restructure. From 12 September 1856 he held a sequence of seats as a Member of the House of Assembly in various electorates up to 1879. He was the Colonial Treasurer for two months in 1857, as well as from January 1863 to November 1866, and from July 1876 to August 1877. In addition, he held the Lands and Works portfolios from November 1872 to August 1873 (Figure 2).

In total he was in parliament for almost 24 years, and was a member of the Executive Council for 17 years. He resigned his seat in 1879 on account of ill health, and died in Launceston on 2 March 1880, his wife and 3 sons surviving him. Meredith was a good administrator who was held in great respect by his fellow colonists. He was one of the few Tasmanians whose name has been publicly commemorated, for a fountain in his memory was erected in Queen’s Domain, Hobart in 1885.

Charles’ wife, Louisa Ann (Twamley) Meredith, born on 20 July 1812 in Birmingham, England was an independent thinker, who was educated at home. She exhibited her first painting at the age of 17, and published her first book of poems at 23. All four of her sons were born in Australia, the second dying in infancy. Her perceptive observations in Notes and Sketches of New South Wales, published in 1844 was angrily reviewed in the Sydney press, and her literary works were continued through the years her children were born (ca. 1839-1847). Her wildflower drawings won medals in exhibitions in Australia and overseas. In 1884, the Tasmanian government granted her a pension for ‘distinguished literary and artistic services’ to the colony.

When Charles died in 1880, Louisa was nearly penniless (according to one account). However, she became a commercial success with 20 books (some ran to several editions), many pamphlets, journal and newspaper articles. Louisa’s writing helped her family through many economic ups and downs, and she was an active participant in the production of plays, concerts and poetry readings in Hobart. She died in Collingwood, Victoria on 21 October 1895 (Figure 3).

This paper on the Merediths was largely derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Categories: People, Political