Jedediah Prendergast Merritt
Jedediah Prendergast Merritt was born on June 1st, 1820 in St. Catharines to parents; Honourable William Hamilton Merritt (1793-1862) and Catherine Rodman Prendergast (1793-1862). Jedediah was the oldest son in a family of six children. His siblings were: Thomas Prendergast Merritt; an infant sister (d.1818); William Hamilton Merritt Jr.; Thomas Rodman Merritt; Catharine Merritt.
At an early age Jedediah travelled to England and attended Cambridge University. Upon completing his education he returned to St. Catharines. Jedediah was appointed as postmaster of St. Catharines in May 1845. He held this position for 18 years. In 1860, Jedediah was voted in by parliament to the position of archivist. Hi worked hard at gathering documented information and historical matter about the lives of pioneers in Canada before and after to the Revolutionary War.
Jedediah was known to enjoy literature as well as science. He also wrote poetry. One poem that he wrote in honour of a visit from the Duke of Kent to Canada was acknowledged by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Newcastle and the Earl of St. Germans. He also published a historical chart which was approved by the British North American Historical Society and received a commendation from the Prince of Wales. He was awarded a medal from the Prince of Wales for his work.
He also served as the secretary and treasurer of the Welland Canal for many years.
Jedediah was married to Emily Alexandrina Prescott on August 17th, 1864, with whom he had eight children: Lt. Col. William Hamilton Merritt, M.D.; Catharine Welland Merritt; Jedediah Prescott Merritt (II); Thomas S. Merritt; Louis Alexander Merritt; Helen Emily; Charles Prendergast Merritt; and John Octavius.
Emily Alexandrina Prescott was born in 1834, daughter of George Prescott Esquire. She was first married to Thomas Frederic Graydon (d.1862), however was widowed. Emily Alexandrina
Prescott Merritt died in 1904.
Jedediah travelled to many places during his life including France where he learned the metric system of measurement. Upon returning to Canada he became an advocate for teaching the metric system in school.
In the year 1900, Jedediah came down with a cold that turned into bronchitis. Although he had been very healthy throughout his life, he was unable to survive the illness and passed away in November 1900. He was predeceased by his son Charles Prendergast Merritt. Both were buried in Victoria Lawn Cemetery.
This series is written and compiled by Alicia Floyd, Collections Technician – Archival at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre