In 1834 Meynell entered Henry Burney's Academy at Gosport and in 1836 joined the PARTRIDGE, home waters. From 1837 to 1839 he was in Australian waters in the ALLIGATOR and then took part in the China War, 1840 to 1843, in the CALLIOPE. Between 1844 and 1845 he was a mate in the PENELOPE during the anti-slavery operations off the west coast of Africa. In 1846 he was presented with a commission and re-appointed as additional lieutenant to the Penelope. He was unemployed from 1847 until 1853, when he joined the ROYAL GEORGE in the Baltic during the Crimean War. After 1855 he saw no further service.
The papers were presented by Mrs Meynell, Lieutenant Meynell's daughter-in-law, in 1957. There is an illustrated log, 1853 to 1854, kept while Meynell was in the ROYAL GEORGE. His letters cover his whole career, 1833 to 1854, and have been organized by his mother, together with newspaper cuttings relating mainly to the China War. In addition, there is a sketch book which includes several ships' portraits and places Meynell visited, from China to the South Atlantic.