The Meaker Family...Genealogy

The Meakers

The Meaker Family History

The Meakers of Fiddington

By Christine Poole (Meaker)

Christine wrote the following article for the Friends of Fiddington Church Association Newsletter in May 2007. In October 2007 we visited Fiddington when Christine was over from Calgary. We met a number of people from the village who welcomed us into their homes, we thank them for their hospitality and for all the Meaker stories. Here is the article she wrote.

Christine is the great granddaughter of Joseph Meaker, the brother of Henry Albert, Patriarch of the Fiddington Meakers in Somerset.

Thank you for the opportunity to pass on information about this branch of the Meaker family.

Meaker Family 1894
The Meaker Family 1894, Fiddington, Somerset
Back Row
: Albert, John, Benjamin, Henry, Edgar
Middle Row: Alick, William, Eliza, Ella
Front Row: Frank, Reginald, Archibald, Percy.

Henry Albert Meaker (b.1842 at Greenway Farm. Skimmerton Lane, Wembdon) received Brook Farm from his parents John and Elizabeth Meaker on marrying Eliza Juliet Dinham (b.1850) This land was originally part of the Duke of Wellington Estates. They had eleven children, ten boys and one girl all born in Fiddington. Henry believed a large food bill, was better than a large doctor's bill! There must have been some truth to this as all were healthy and went on to lead adventurous lives.

Out of the ten boys only one continued to farm in England , the second son, Arthur William (b.1874) who gradually took over Brook Farm and other parcels of land nearby from his father. John Ruscombe (b.1873) was apprenticed to a butcher, later joined by his brother Albert Joseph (b.1879) John and Albert emigrated to the United States where according to the1923 Seattle City Directory, Albert owned The Seattle Meat Co. Albert passed away 1944 in Seattle Washington, John passed away 1969 in Alameda, California.

Benjamin (b.1875) was apprenticed to a carpenter and cabinet maker, making organs in Bridgwater, then joining Edgar Jesse (b.1878) who was working in a department store in London. They went on to own the 'Meakers Department Stores' a high class tailors eventually ending up with many stores across Southern England and Wales. Edgar passed away in Oct 1934 in Peterborough , Benjamin continued to run the company, a financial success. He passed away, unmarried, in 1972 in Jersey . His money was placed in various trusts which are still around today.

Meaker Family Reunion 1954
Meaker Family Reunion August 1954 Reno, Nevada USA
Back Row
:Jack, Frank, Reginald, Benjamin, Ruth, Bea, John
Middle Row: Frank (Hibberd), Isahel, Ella(Meaker-Hibberd),Loretta, Elsie
Front Row:Eddie, Janet, Bev, Hellen, Dale

Alick Ruscombe (b.1881) caused some heartache to his mother by signing up for the Boer War when he reached the age of 18 and without telling anyone. Because he was an excellent shot he enlisted in the Special Sharpshooters Unit of the Imperial Yeomanry, Alick, who had come through the war relatively unscathed, was killed when lightning hit his tent in the latter part of the war (1902) in Laings Nek, South Africa . Impressed by the uniform, less than a month after Alick enlisted. Henry Percy (b.1883) lied about his age and signed up for Pagets Light Horse Division of the Yeomanry. Percy, who only suffered a broken leg, was still not eighteen when he returned to Fiddington which happened on the day the village was enjoying the celebrations for the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

Although all the boys were very adventurous, Percy was the most 'colourful' of them all. The boys on going to the United States were determined to find gold, several mining ventures were tried but Percy was the only one to attempt the infamous Chilcoot Pass to the Klondike - it is not known whether he found gold as it was after the main rush on the gold fields was over. He returned to Seattle , Washington and married Helen Brown, a Fiddington girl before settling in California. They had four children, one of which, Gerald Henry. won the prestigious Guggenheim Book award in 1976 for the "The Revolutionary Left in Spain." Another son, Merrill was killed when transporting troops across the English Channel only weeks after visiting Fiddington.

Reginald (b.1887) was apprenticed to a cattle buyer in Highbridge and had many adventures in the United States before owning a ranch in Reno . Nevada where he became a prominent member of the ranching community in that State.

Fiddington Church and Village Hall

Fiddington Church and Village Hall

Ella (b.1882), the only daughter, was sent to various schools on the continent. Ella married Charles Frederick Maxwell Hibberd and eventually went to live in South Africa; Ella passed away in 1980 in Australia where her daughters reside.

Frank (b.1884) was apprenticed to a butcher in Taunton and eventually immigrated to the United States and joined his brothers. It is of this family I am most familiar. I was fortunate in meeting them, visiting with my father, Henry, in 2005. They were definitely Meakers and from the same 'pod.' Frank Jr. took us places in Colorado his father helped develop in order to bring prosperity to the Uncompahgre valley in which Montrose is situated. Here Frank Sr. started and built a ranch which now is in the capable hands of his grandson Randy. While there my father and I met some of the Frank's descendants, with the grandchildren and great grandchildren, I have never seen so many Meakers in one place! When visiting Kathy, I was shown a large painted picture of Brook Farm above their fireplace and in their wedding photo this painting was prominent. Frank Jr and Irish have chairs with the various Meaker brands embroidered on them, this was only part of a vast amount of information, but what I will remember most was a true Meaker welcome giving us a real sense of belonging to a wonderful family of which I am a small part, all originating in the idyllic village of Fiddington.

This is a very small amount of the information I have on the family: If anyone would like more in any detail I am willing to help you. However if anyone has any information to add to mine I would appreciate it.

Email: christine@marilynpeddle.co.uk

According to Reginald's book ' Nevada Desert Sheepman' the boys' initials are carved on some wooden post in the bell tower in Fiddington Church : if any athletic villager is that way I would love to know if they are still there.

Bibliography: "Nevada Desert Sheepman" by Reginald Meaker.

Special Thanks to Frank and Irish Meaker and family, Montrose, Pat Meaker, London