The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Silk Weavers named Collier

Update to My Article in Cockney Ancestor

In Summer 2007, I had an article published in Cockney Ancestor, the Journal of the East of London Family History Society.

Christ Church, Spitafields

I have updated the text following some more recent research:

Spitalfields and 19th Century Silk Weavers named Collier

I was delighted to see the photograph of Christ Church, Spitalfields (on the front cover of the Spring 2006 edition of Cockney Ancestor) and details of the availability of Huguenot records. It inspired me to summarise the position I have reached in researching my wife Chris’ maiden name COLLIER, where if anything I have too much information, and my mother’s maiden name BRECHT, where I don’t have enough!

It seems only yesterday that I wrote to follow up an article in the Summer 1983 edition of Cockney Ancestor. The author of the article was a descendant of Thomas Collier, Silk Weaver, and Mary KEMP who was of Huguenot descent. They were married on 4 July 1802 at Christ Church, Spitalfields (per IGI), and a number of their family followed Thomas into silk weaving. I have put the text of the previous article in my web-site:


My wife, Chris, is descended from Charles Collier, whose occupation was given as Weaver on the marriage certificate of his son, Charles Collier, Ropemaker, to Matilda GARDINER at the Parish Church of South Hackney (St John of Jerusalem, Lauriston Road) on 15 October 1853. Family legend has it that the family are of Huguenot descent.

I found Charles’ family in the 1851 Census when they were living at 2 Harrold Street, Bethnal Green. There is no mention of Charles but the occupation of his married daughter Emma (Collier) CORDELL is given as Silk Weaver. The name of her husband, William James Cordell, appears in Huguenot records.

In 1983 my correspondent sent me details of Thomas and Mary Collier’s family. He had identified the birth of one child in 1803 from Parish Records (Christ Church, Spitalfields) and a further three children born 1819-1823 (St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green). This left a long period of time between 1803-1819, when Thomas and Mary may have had more children.

In the IGI, I found the names of other children christened at St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green, including a William Collier, to a Thomas and Mary Collier. But no Charles.

The publication of Names Indexes for Censuses including the 1841 and 1851 Censuses for London has made all the difference. Firstly I was able to find Charles Collier, Silk Weaver, and Eliza Collier (both age approx 35) and a larger family than I expected, living at Pleasant Place (later named Hersee Place), Bethnal Green, in the 1841 Census.

Then I scoured both the 1841 and 1851 Censuses for London looking for silk weavers named Collier living in Spitalfields or Bethnal Green. I found some more weavers’ families living together or near each other. There was a particular concentration of weavers in Bethnal Green.

I established that there were approximately 30 silk weavers named Collier in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green in the 19th Century, spread amongst approximately 15 families. Many members of one family were involved in weaving, and continued in the industry when they married and set up their own homes albeit close by their parents.

I started to obtain birth and marriage certificates of Colliers in Bethnal Green shortly after registration began in 1837. This has given me the names of some more weavers, and mothers’ maiden names and addresses to try to link together some of the weavers in Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. But no link to Charles was established.

I highlighted the names of the roads, which I had identified, on the Old Ordnance Survey map No. 51 for Shoreditch 1872 and found that most of the names fell into the area between St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch and St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green. Unfortunately Charles Collier lived somewhat away from the other Colliers near the Globe Town area of Bethnal Green near Victoria Park. I found Pleasant Place as Hersee Place on the Old Ordnance Survey Map No. 52 for Bethnal Green and Bow 1894.


In the 19th Century there were many families employed in the silk weaving industry situated around Spitalfields and Bethnal Green. Some of the members of these families were of Huguenot descent including Mary (Kemp) Collier and her children.

There were a large number of silk weavers named Collier including my wife Chris’ ancestor Charles Collier who lived in Bethnal Green in 1841, a little distance from the other silk weavers named Collier. He does not appear in the names index to the 1851 Census but as yet I have not traced his death. He is also not shown in the IGI.

In 2001, Chris and I met up with Chris’ cousin who is descended from Emma Collier, the sister of Charles Collier, the Ropemaker. We went first to Christ Church, Spitalfields then walked down Brick Lane to Austin Street, Bethnal Green where Emma was married at the Providence Chapel. We then made our way from St Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch to St Matthew’s Church, Bethnal Green and then St John of Jerusalem, Lauriston Road. The photographs of the churches that Chris took are contained in my web-site.

Visit to East End June 2001

My mother’s maiden name Brecht is also associated with Christ Church, Spitalfields and I hope to summarise my research into that difficult name in a second article.

Colin Bower
Member 6437

More Recent Progress

1861 Census

The publication of a names index for the 1861 census gave me a breakthrough with Thomas & Mary (Kemp) Collier. In 1861 Thomas was staying with his daughter Elizabeth (Collier) Furby at Brooksby Walk, Homerton. I had not previously known about Elizabeth.


Christ Church, Spitalfields

This prompted me to go back into the IGI and it appears that Thomas & Mary had 3 children that were christened at Christ Church, Spitalfields:

Previously Known

1. Mary Sarah Collier christened 31.8.1803

Additional Names

2. Hariot Ann Collier christened 13.2.1805
3. Elizabeth Collier christened 9.3.1806

St Matthew's, Bethnal Green

The christenings of the other children at St Matthew's, Bethnal Green are more problematic:

Previously Known

4. James Collier christened 29.12.1819
5. Jane Collier christened 24.3.1822
6. John Daniel Collier christened 16.11.1823

Additional Names

7. Phebe Collier christened 28.8.1806(?)
8. Frances Collier christened 26.7.1807
9. Thomas Collier christened 26.8.1810
10. Louisa Collier christened 15.11.1812
11. Mary Ann Collier christened 19.9.1813
12. William Collier christened 26.11.1815
13. Sarah Collier christened 23.11.1817

I did have doubts over this information with 2 marriages of a Thomas & Mary at Christ Church, Spitalfields at about the same time and e.g. the christening of Phebe (parents Thomas & Mary Collier) 28.8.1806 did not appear to tally with the christening of Elizabeth but I received a response to the article which confirmed that Thomas & Mary had 13 children.

Breakthrough at London Metropolitan Archives

At the London Metropolitan Archives, I looked up the Parish Record of the marriage of Thomas Collier & Mary Kemp in June 1802 and found that there were two witnesses Matthew & Phoebe Collier.

St Leonard's, Shoreditch

A search of the IGI revealed the potential marriage of parents and christenings of siblings of Thomas Collier all at St Leonard's, Shoreditch:


William Collier married Phebe Collier 3.9.1782


1. Thomas Collier christened 18.1.1779
2. Matthew Collier christened March 1781
3. Sarah Debues Collier christened 26.12.1782
4. Phoebe Collier christened 17.2.1785

Response to Article

I received a response from a descendant of William & Phebe Collier who told me that they had had two further children making it 6 in all:

5. William Collier b 1773

6. Ann Collier b 1776 who married William Kemp

Big Breakthrough!

Charles Collier Silk Weaver and his wife Eliza

In the 1841 Census, Charles Collier, Silk Weaver (age approx 35) and his wife Eliza are shown to have had 10 children (ages 10 months-13) at that time, including Ann age 2.

For years I had been trying to establish Eliza's maiden name hoping for clues to obtain the names of Charles' parents, with a possible link to other silk weavers named Collier some of whom were of Huguenot descent.

Strangely, it was obtaining an unwanted birth certificate (Ann Eliza Collier born 10.5.1838) which drew my attention back to a birth certificate that I held already but dismissed because it stated that the child (Ann born 28.2.1840) was the first born of Charles Colllier, Weaver and his wife Elizabeth (Adams).

On looking at the IGI again, I found the marriage of Charles Collier and Eliza Adams at St Dunstans, Stepney on 25.8.1822. This would tie in with the details in the 1841 Census but which suggests that Ann was far from being the first born. So for the moment I am taking it that "our" Charles Collier married Eliza Adams.

I later found that Charles Collier separated from Eliza Adams and married Maria Sanders.

James & Elizabeth Collier

In the 1851 and 1861 Censuses Charles Collier, Weaver was born c 1803/4.

This may have been the Charles Collier bp 4.9.1803 at St Matthews, Bethnal Green (parents James & Elizabeth Collier). As this would link in with the the 1851 and 1861 Censuses, I am assuming that Charles' parents were James & Elizabeth.

In the IGI, a James Collier married Elizabeth Mason on 22.12.1785 at St Matthews, Bethnal Green. So I am assuming that they were Chris' ancestors.

It appears that James & Elizabeth had other children, e.g. Joseph, who may have been silk weavers.

Colin Bower
30 November 2011

Links to:

Silk Weavers named Collier - Introduction & Index

Silk Weavers named Collier - The Story So Far

Collier Family - Progress to Date

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