Meredith was born on July 7, 1795 in Warwick Township, Bucks
County, Pennsylvania. He was the oldest of eight children of
John Meredith, a prosperous farmer, and Charlotte Hough Meredith,
a Quaker. In his youth he first attended a neighborhood school,
then Doylestown Academy, a classical school of good repute.
In 1813 he entered the University of Pennsylvania, intending
to become a lawyer. In 1814, following the death of his mother,
he decided to become a preacher. He began to prepare himself
for the ministry upon his return to the University. In 1816
Meredith, one of nine graduates, delivered the "Valedictory
Oration," choosing as his subject "Christianity."
In 1817 Meredith
came to eastern North Carolina as a missionary. In March 1819,
he accepted a call to the pastorate of the church at New Bern,
and shortly became one of the leading figures among North
Carolina Baptists. In addition to a succession of pastorates,
Meredith was prominent in the formation of the State Baptist
Convention in 1830. He was the first president of the Wake
Forest Institute's (later Wake
Forest University) Board of Trustees. His counsel
and assistance was always sought when important issues arose
among Baptists in the state. He has been described as the
greatest single influence on Baptist history in North Carolina.
Meredith's most lasting contribution was his founding of the
state Baptist newspaper, The
Biblical Recorder, in 1834. In 1838, when he moved
to Raleigh with the Recorder, he gave up his last pastorate
to become editor full time. He remained in this position until
his death in 1850.
was a tireless campaigner for the higher education in North
Carolina. In addition to his role in the establishment of
what is now Wake Forest University, he was among the earliest
proponents of education for women. He began his work in this
area in 1834, and in a resolution offered to the Baptist State
Convention in 1838 he urged the establishment of "a female
seminary of a high order." After a number of false starts,
the Baptist Female University opened its doors in 1899. The
name was changed to the Baptist University for Women in 1904.
Finally, in 1910 the name of the institution was changed to
Meredith College to honor the memory of the man who initiated
the idea of such a college 76 years earlier.
-- information taken from A History of
Meredith College, by Mary Lynch Johnson, 1972.
Page by Ted Waller, Carlyle
College, 3800 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5298