The son of Colonel Richard Kidder Meade (1746-1805), one of George Washington's aides during the War of Independence, he was born near Millwood at White Post, in what is now Clarke County, Virginia. He graduated as valedictorian in 1808 at the college of New Jersey (Princeton University); studied theology under the Rev. Walter Addison of Maryland, and at Princeton; was ordained deacon in 1811 and priest in 1814; and preached both in the Stone Chapel, Millwood, and in Christ Church, Alexandria, for some time.
He became assistant Bishop of Virginia in 1829; was rector of Christ Church, Norfolk, in 1834-1836; in 1841 became Bishop of Virginia; and in 1842-1862 was president of the Virginia Theological Seminary, near Alexandria, delivering an annual course of lectures on pastoral theology.
In 1819 he had acted as the agent of the American Colonization Society to purchase slaves, illegally brought into Georgia, which had become the property of that state and were sold publicly at Milledgeville. He had been prominent in the work of the Education Society, which was organized in 1818 to advance funds to needy students for the ministry of the American Episcopal Church, and in the establishment of the Theological Seminary near Alexandria, as he was afterwards in the work of the American Tract Society, and the Bible Society. He was a founder and president of the Evangelical Knowledge Society (1847), which, opposing what it considered the heterodoxy of many of the books published by the Sunday School Union, attempted to displace them by issuing works of a more evangelical type.
A low Churchman, he strongly opposed Tractarianism. He was active in the case against Bishop Henry Ustick Onderdonk (1789-1858) of Pennsylvania, who because of in temperance was forced to resign and was suspended from the ministry in 1844; in that against Bishop Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk (1791-1861) of New York, who in 1845 was suspended from the ministry on the charge of improper conduct; and in that against Bishop George Washington Doane of New Jersey. He fought against the threatening secession of Virginia, but acquiesced in the decision of the state and became presiding bishop of the Southern Church.
He died in Richmond, Virginia, aged 72.
Among his publications, besides many sermons, were:
- A Brief Review of the Episcopal Church in Virginia (1845)
- Wilberforce, Cranmer, Jewett and the Prayer Book on the Incarnation (1850)
- Reasons for Loving the Episcopal Church (1852)
- Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia (1857), a storehouse of material on the ecclesiastical history of the state.
- Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 566.
- ()Sermon by William White at the Consecration of William Meade
- () Online works by and about Meade
|Episcopal Church (USA) titles|
Richard Channing Moore
|3rd Bishop of Virginia
1841 – 1862