He was the subject of many contemporary newspaper articles in England, Ireland and Australia when he claimed the succession of the the baronetcy of Greenhills, as the 11th Baronet, on the death of his cousin Edward Henry John Meredyth, who had assumed the title of 10th Baronet. The claim was rejected by the College of Arms, but he continued to believe he was the rightful 11th Baronet.
A manuscript note in the Genealogical Office of Dublin sets out the reason for rejecting the claim: "the Pedigree of Bishop Meredyth’s descendants registered in Ulster’s Office in April 1808 is most incorrect and was concocted for supporting a claim to the title of Baronet conferred upon Sir William Meredyth, the Bishop’s grandson on 20 Nov 1660 with remainder to the heirs male of his body, but who died without issue in Feb 1664 when his title became extinct. On the strength of this false Pedigree the title was successfully assumed from that date until 8 Oct 1904 when Ulster King of
Arms properly disallowed the assumption."
There were many colourful descriptions of his claim to the baronetcy and his travel to England and Ireland to assert that claim. The following from the Adelaide Advertiser of May 1905 is one example:
“A Titled Cabman.
Among the passengers by the Ortona, which arrived at Tilbury last Monday, was Sir George Augustus Jervis Meredyth, Bart., and his wife. The pair, in spite of their rank, were steerage passengers. It was no mere desire for "experience" that induced them to forego the delights of the first saloon, but the lack of funds. Sir George has come home to claim his ancestral estates in county Kildare. The fortune attached to his title is not a big one, for, all told, the farms and tenancies do not, it seems, produce a net revenue of more than, £400 a year. The baronet is a little old man, with a thin, clean-shaven face, and a nervous manner. His voyage to England on the steamship Ortona was a honeymoon trip, for the day before the boat left Melbourne he married his second wife, who is very much younger than himself. His arrival at St. Paneras was a pathetic sight. He stood on the platform surrounded by a rampart of luggage, and dazed by the busy scene around him, and Lady Meredyth seemed even more nervous than her elderly, husband. Few of the onlookers who saw the little, shabbily-dressed old man, and the sweet-faced woman to whom he clung, sitting all forlorn amid a chaos of luggage, guessed that they were a real baronet and his wife.
To an interviewer Sir George, whose title is recognised in the current issue of Burke's Peerage, said:-"Not a penny have I ever had that I did not earn myself. "I have had nothing from the estate yet which accounts for my wife and myself being steerage passengers. I am going to Ireland now to claim and live- upon my inheritance. My title to it is acknowledged, but there will possibly be some litigation with reference to a portion of the proceeds of the estate."
"My past? Well, I have played many parts in it? Yes"-the old man's eyes twinkled at the recollection-"yes, I did try to blow up a schoolmaster by putting gunpowder in his boots, and then - well, it was the last, school in Ireland for me." For three years he worked as a shoe-maker, and saved enough money to pay his passage to Hobart, where his cousin was a merchant. When he arrived his cousin had gone to California, and George was penniless. He worked his passage back to London in the ship that had brought him over as a passenger. He picked up a precarious living in London for a year, and then worked his passage to Australia, and went to the goldfields. Fortune, however, did not smile on him, and he gathered more experience than money. He went again to Hobart, and after spending 12 years there went to sea again, and served four years before the mast. After that he spent 14 years in the Hobart police force. He saved enough money as a policeman to buy a cab which he drove in the streets of Hobart for some years.
"I have got my living in 20 different ways," concluded the baronet, "but it has always been my work. Now I am going to live without working, and I think I deserve it."
Such articles drew the attention of someone who seemed be aware that the claimed baronetcy had in fact become extinct, as shown by the following letter to the Hobart Mercury:
“THE SO-CALLED MEREDYTH BARONETCY.
To the Editor of "The Mercury."
Sir, - When the Hobart ex-cabman, George Meredyth, was widely 'announced in the press or Australia, as having succeeded to a baronetcy on the death, in November last, of "Sir" Edward H. Meredyth, I ventured to point out in your columns, that, though he was undoubtedly heir-male of the said "Sir" Edward, and succeeded to the little Irish property, there wore very grave doubts if there were any baronetcy for him to succeed to. I gave, briefly, the history of the title, and showed that it had become extinct on the death of the first holder, some 240 years ago. Mr. George Meredyth was surprised and angry, and appealed to the Peerage books, as proof of his being a real, genuine baronet.
The last mail from home brings confirmation of my views. The following is an extract from an English journal:-"The Ulster King-of-Arms does not recognise any Meredyth baronetcy. It is stated that the title died with the first bearer, in 1664, but on a claim being made in 1808; backed up with a plausible genealogical tree and a bundle of affidavits, it was allowed. Later investigations have shown that the claim thus allowed was based on false premises, and although the last wearer was not interfered with, the Meredyth baronetcy is now officially declared to be non-existent." The ghost of this dead baronetcy has now been laid, and it is to be hoped that the sixty-five "bogus" baronets, still flaunting the title, may be similarly dealt with, and officially pronounced to bo no more than plain "misters"
-Your, etc, X.
May 24. [In November last a correspondent called attention to the fact that the title extinct.-Ed. "M."].6,7,8