Lt. Col. William Hamilton Merritt (IV), M.D.
Lt. Col. William Hamilton Merritt, M.D., a native of St. Catharines, was born on June 13, 1865 at Oak Hill on 12 Yates Street in St. Catharines, to Jedediah Prendergast Merritt and Emily Alexandria (Prescott) Merritt. Jedediah Prendergast Merritt was the second son of Honourable Wm. H. Merritt and Catharine Rodman Prendergast. Dr. W. H. Merritt was the 4th generation to live in St. Catharines. His great-grandfather was Major. Thos. Merritt, Sherriff of Niagara District.
Lt. Col. William Hamilton Merritt attended elementary school in St. Catharines and moved on to further his education in London, Ontario at Dufferin College. He then attended Toronto University and later attended Trinity College from which he graduated in April of 1888. Merritt went on to study medicine at the University of London where he obtained his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (F.R.C.S.). He furthered his education at the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Edinburgh, Scotland where he achieved highest honours. He later took more courses at the medical school in Leipzburg, Germany, after which he returned to St. Catharines, Ontario where he opened a medical practice.
In 1892, he became interested in military life and received permission to organize the 7th Field Battery, of which he became commanding officer. When the “Great War” (WWI) began in 1914, Dr. Merritt was 49 years old but offered to raise a battery for a second contingent to go to the front overseas. His offer was accepted by Ottawa. By November 1914 Dr. Merritt had recruited enough men for a battery and so they marched to a mobilization camp in Toronto. In May 1915 Dr. Merritt and his battery left for England. In 1916 he went to France with the Second Division where he commanded his battery for 9 months in the trenches. Once France became aware that he was a doctor, he was immediately transferred to the Medical Corps because of a shortage of skilled surgeons. Dr. Merritt served in the 7th Field Battery Medical Corps until demobilization in 1919. Dr. Merritt was discharged with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.
Merritt was also an active member of the St. Catharines community. He was a Deputy Reeve in 1853 and 1856 and was a city councillor in the following years: 1899, 1909, 1910, and 1911. He served as the mayor of St. Catharines in 1912 and 1913. He served on various boards and committees in St. Catharines including the board of education and the library board. Dr. Merritt was also the coroner of the county.
Dr. Merritt was very prominent in financial circles and was a vice-president of the Imperial Bank of Canada as well as the Security Loan and Savings Bank. He was also connected to various philanthropic organizations. At the time of his death he was the vice-president of the Suspension Bridge Company in Niagara Falls.
Merritt was an active participant in various clubs and fraternal organizations as well, including but not limited to: Knight Templar of The Masonic Order; The Oddfellows and the Great War Veterans Association.
In his personal life Merritt was married to Miss Maud Cloudman Hudson of Memphis, Tennessee on October 12th, 1892. Miss Maud Cloudman Hudson was the daughter of Judge Haynes Emmons and Marian Benedict (Merritt) Hudson. Together they had two children; Marion Emily, who married Murton A. Seymour and Thomas Rodman Merritt, who married Duthga Murray.
Lt. Col. Wm. H. Merritt M.D. died on April 24th, 1924 at the age of 58 at Rodman Hall in St. Catharines.
This series is written and compiled by Alicia Floyd, Collections Technician – Archival at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre