The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Silk Weavers named Collier

Progress 2009 - To Date

Progress since the research in the early days has been as follows:

Progress 2009


The web-site generated a reasonable list of correspondents and for a time I circulated a regular newsletter but no real progress was made.


Visit to Spitalfields 3 June 2009

We made a very successful visit to Spitalfields where we were lucky that Christ Church, Spitalfields, the magnificent 18th Century church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, was open:

At that time it was planned that the 18th century organ at the church be refurbished:

but it does not stop concerts being organised at the church.

The original font is still in its symbolic position at the entrance to the church:

Progress 2010


Progress 2011

Review of Information To Date

I undertook a review of the information that I had obtained to date and filled a number of gaps from searches on the internet.

As a result I moved Weavers James Collier & Samuel Collier from Family 12 to Family 9.

I reviewed the information held and made some searches where I had been unsuccessful before. A number of the gaps were filled and changes were made to many of the Family details.

I started to collate a new article, Things we wish we knew, which was not published until 2017! See Progress 2017 below:

Census Entries and Parish Records

I also typed up the details of Census entries and Parish Records that I had obtained:

Census Entries Obtained

Parish Records Obtained

Cockney Colliers - Newsletters

I resumed issuing Newsletters to correspondents interested in Cockney Colliers particularly Silk Weavers named Collier:

Cockney Colliers - Newsletters

Third Gathering of the Gaucheron/Kemp/Collier Family

I also attended the Third Gathering of the Gaucheron/Kemp/Collier Family and met a new descendant of James Collier.

As a result, it was established that James Collier was a Silk Weaver despite being described as a carpenter in Charles Collier's (second marriage) marriage certificate in 1863. It also meant that there was a link between Family 7 with Family 1 and possibly Family 4:

Visit to City of London 8 October 2011 including

- Visit to Guildhall Library
- The Third Gathering of the Gaucheron/Kemp/Collier
- Visits to Christ Church, Spitalfields and Shoreditch

The London Weavers Company 1600-1970

I purchased a secondhand copy (ex library) of the book, the London Weavers Company 1600-1970 by Alfred Plummer.

In the book are references to Francis Dearman, Silk Weaver, son of Francis Dearman, Silk Weaver, who married Maria Collier (daughter of Charles Collier) in 1856:

Francis Dearman, Silk Weaver

Elizabeth Emma Collier

I was contacted by a descendant by marriage of William, Silk Weaver, & Hannah (Hood) Collier. My correspondent's mother in law was Elizabeth Emma Collier born 1911 in Stepney and married William Edwin Edger at St Dunstan's Stepney in 1937.

Progress 2012


Progress 2013

James Benjamin Collier

A Descendant of James Benjamin Collier - who was a witness at the marriage of Thomas William Collier and Rebecca Wicks (Family 4) - made contact.

His family tree stretches back to the Huguenots in France in the 17th Century.

It would be wonderful if "our" Colliers were part of the same family tree (as legend has suggested a family link to the Huguenots).

William Delves Collier

One of my correspondents sent me some new certificates and a summary of her research.

She found that the father of Matthew Collier was William Delves Collier and that William was a silk weaver and manufacturer (Weaver 201 in Family 2).

My correspondent is descended from Family 2 - Thomas & Mary Ann (Dean) Collier.

New Weavers

As I had the files out, I undertook some more research and in addition to William Delves Collier (Weaver 162), I identified more Silk Weavers:
- Eliza Collier (Weaver 223) per new entry in 1871 Census
- Thomas Collier (Weaver 260)
- Ann Collier (Weaver 277)
- Abraham Collier (Weaver 1800)

The Register of Silk Weavers named Collier has been updated:

Register of Sik Weavers named Collier

Two wills & a ferret!

In updating the website, I re-read Doreen Furby's article: "Furby – a French Connection?"

Furby - a French Connection?"

in which she states that the father of Thomas Collier who married Mary Kemp was William Collier, a "fringe, ferrit and velvet ribbon maker" (1799).

It occured to me that I had never looked for William and, as you do, I "googled" him! This lead to one of the biggest finds so far and real wealth in the Collier Family!

William Collier born 1741/2

I found a link to: trees

which gave William Collier of John Street, Spitalfields's death as 1808 and details of the bequests under his will to:

- his wife Phoebe
- his daughter Phoebe (house in Thomas Street)
- his eldest son William Delves Collier of the White Horse in Hare Street, Bethnal Green (houses in St John Street and Shacklewell Street and Carter Street in Bethnal Green)
- his daughter Ann Kemp (houses in Roadside, Whitechapel and Princes Court & John Street, Bethnal Green)
- his son Thomas Collier - who married Mary Kemp - (properties in & around Shacklewell Street and Shacklewell Court. Bethnal Green)

There has always (to me) been doubt about which were William & Phoebe's children and this makes it very clear and meant that the Register of Silk Wevers needed a drastic overhaul!

William's father William Collier born c 1710

In a Family History UK Genealogy Forum, a contributor asked for help in tracing more information about William Collier born 1710 who married Sarah Dealus on 4.3.1738 at St Dunstan, Stepney.

William Collier Senior was described in his 1789 will as a "Gentleman of Chester" born in London but died in Chester. He appears to have been a rich man and left virtually everything to his two sons - William & Matthew Collier.

In the Parish Records of St Leonards, Shoreditch are 2 christenings:

- William Collier bp 31.5.1741 (Parents William & Sarah Collier)
- Matthew Collier b 3.1.1741 bp 24.1.1742 (Parents William & Sarah Collier of Norton Falgate)

In the above website and another:

it has been assumed/proved that William& Sarah Collier are the parents of William Collier who married Phoebe Booth on 3.9.1782 at St Leonard, Shoreditch.

I am happy to accept that William Delves Collier had a father, William (who married Phoebe) and grandfather William
(who married Sarah) as described. Using someone else's research means that I do not have to re-invent the wheel!

Progress 2014

Taking a View

After years of research, I decided to assume that James Collier born c 1765, married Elizabeth Mason.

As indicated in 2008 above, others had adopted this assumption. Since then we had proved that James was a Silk Weaver.

This meant that the information on James could be summarised as:

Weaver 101. (Gen. 1) James Collier, Weaver (1813-1839)
- born circa 1765
- married Elizabeth Mason 22.12.1785 St Matthews, Bethnal Green
- father of Charles Collier, Silk Weaver 103 per bp 4.9.1803 St Matthew's, Bethnal Green
- father of Joseph Collier, Silk Weaver 124 per bp 6.3.1808 St Matthew's, Bethnal Green
- Weaver of St John St per bp of daughter Jane at St Matthew, Bethnal Green 21.2.1813
- Silk Weaver per marriage of son Thomas Collier, Silk Weaver 172 (Widower) 16.9.1839 to Elizabeth Piper (Widow)
at St George in the East

Error in a Marriage Certificate

A correspondent wrote to query the groom's father' name in the marriage certificate dated 25.12.1853 in which Eleanor Collier married William Thwaites. A search of the Parish Records confirmed that William Thwaites' father was John Thwaites not Thomas Thwaites. A very unusual error (in my experience).

Eleanor Collier

The correspondent also pointed out that Eleanor's parents were William Collier and Charlotte Robelon and searches of Parish Records showed that the family had a settled existence then suffered a setback:

St Matthews, Bethnal Green

William Collier
married 3.8.1818
Charlotte Robelon
Witnesses/Parents (?) Wm & Ann Collier

Sarah Delves Collier born 26.9.1818 bp 18.10.1818
(Parents William Collier, Weaver of Brick Lane, & Charlotte)

Elinor Collier born 29.1.1820 bp 27.2.1820
(Parents William Collier, Weaver of St John St, & Charlotte)

William Collier born 18.2.1821 bp 18.3.1821
(Parents William Collier, Weaver of the Workhouse, & Charlotte)

Holywell Mount Independent, Shoreditch

Charlotte Collier born 6.5.1826 bp 18.8.1826
(Parents William Collier & Charlotte Roblean)

The Delves Connection

The use of the middle name Delves crops up in a number of Collier baptisms and marriages, for example Sarah Delves Collier (above) and:

St Matthews, Bethnal Green

Matthew Delves Collier born 11.8.1820 bp 3.9.1820
(Parents Matthew Collier, Weaver Hope Town & Elizabeth)

Christ Church, Spitalfields

William Delves Collier
married 9.11.1795
Eleanor Evitt
(Witnesses: Matthew Collier, Ann Collier)

For a fuller list, see The Delves Collection:

In 2013, I found that a William Delves Collier was the beneficiary of the will of William Collier who married Phoebe Booth and died in 2008 when he owned a house in St John Street, which is another possible link to William & Charlotte (above):

Progress Made in 2015

Visit to London 4 June 2015

In June 2015, I made a rare but memorable visit to London.

Brecht Family

I met up with a first cousin and her husband from Australia and we went on a tour of London particularly Spitalfields.

Meeting First Cousin

At one point, we went to the Town House in Fournier Street, Spitalfields, a former weaver's house.

5 Fournier Street, Spitalfields

The owner was in course of having a a map of Spitalfields drawn up which showed where residents with Huguenot names lived.

I was interested in Fashion Street where Heinrich/Henry Brecht was a colour manufacturer.

Silk Weavers named Coller

I spotted two interesting Huguenot entries in the map:

Isaac Godier who married Eliza Collier, daughter of Charles Collier, Silk Weaver was living in Fashion Street.

Louis Gaucheron was living in Tyssen Steet. Louis' granddaughter Mary Kemp married Thomas Collier.

Unveiling the Huguenot Map

Progress 2016

A correspondent gave me more information about William Collier (Family 9):

Stage 1

St Dunstan's, Stepney

William Collier
married 13.4.1811
Elizabeth Beech
Witnesses Samuel Beech, Jane Collier

St Mary's, Spital Square

Sarah Collier (father William Collier)
Married 10.5.1847
Frederick Gadderer

Selected Poor Law Removal and Settlement Records 11 Nov 1847

Joseph Collier 17 Virginia Row aged 30 Weaver
(Father William Collier 14 Virginia Row to be examined)
Married 8.3.1839 to Elizabeth Matthews
Aged 30 2 children Joseph 7 & James 18 months

William Collier aged 57 Weaver
Married 13.4.1811 to Elizabeth Beech
Aged 55 8 children Elizabeth 33 Joseph 30 James 28
Caroline 24 Sarah 20 George 15 Henry 12

On 3 Jan 1816 he was passed from hence to Bishopsgate

Selected Poor Law Removal & Settlement Records 1698-1930

Order of Removal

Wednesday Dec 16 1857

Joseph Collier 39 Wife Elizabeth 39
Children: Joseph 17 James 12 Eliza 7
Henry 4 Alfred 2
No 29 Mount St, Francis (?) Mount
He a Weaver Examined never certified (?)
was born in Thomas St, Brick Lane
Married at St Mary's Church, Spitalfields 19 June 1848
(Certificate produced)
- see Examination of father William 1855 - Folio 22 -
Examination 19 (?) in Bethnal Green with person
he has (?) cert and never stepped out of his pauch for that time

Bishopsgate Without

NB A note has been added in the margin:
Joseph born corner of New Nichol
James born in Kagun's (?) Row

1861 Census

13/14 Mead Street Bethnal Green

Frederick Gadderer (34) Wood Chopper born Hackney
Sarah (33?) Wood Chopper born Spitalfields
Sarah (16) Scholar born Bethnal Green
Frederick  (13) ditto
Caroline (3) ditto
Elizabeth (1) born Bethnal Green
William Collier (70) Silk Weaver born Spitalfields
Elizabeth (68) Silk Weaver born Bethnal Green

I had not proved that William Collier had married Elizabeth Beech,
that the couple were staying with their daughter Sarah in 1861 and
Joseph (previously Family 10) was their son.

Stage 2

William Collier & Elizbeth Beech had 11 children including:

- William Collier who was born 14.2.1812 and was bp 10.3.1812

- Joseph Collier who was born 13.7.1818 and was bop 8.3.1818

- James Collier who was born 10.12.1820 and was bp 16.4.1821

During this time the family lived at New Inn Yard and all the bp took place at St Leonards, Shoreditch.

With this additional information,it appeared that this was the same James Collier who married Sophia Thorogood at Christ Church, Whitechapel on 27.3.1841.(see Note below)

This gave us more information about William Collier Weaver 940, Family 9.

Therefore Family 12 was disbanded and the additional information transfered to Family 9.


The additional information obtained about James Collier was:

1841 Census

7 Harriet Place (Parish Church, Spitalfields)

Sophia Thorogood (age 16)staying with mother & family
(married James Collier 1842 who gave his address as 4 Harriet Place

1851 Census

57 Charlotte St, Islington (Finsbury)

James Collier (30) Feather Dresser born Bethnal Green
Sophia (25) Tailoress born St George in the East
Caroline Collier (1) born Whitechapel

1861 Census

4 Princes St, Whitechapel

James Collier (40) Marine Store Dealer
Sarah Collier (35)
5 Children including Caroline (12)
All born London, Middlesex

Progress 2017

William & Hannah Collier

The year began with some more research into Silk Weavers named Collier.

A descendent of William Collier and Hannah Hood contacted me and it encouraged me to find an entry for William & Hannah in the 1871 Census, still living in Diamond Court.

Abraham& Ann Collier

While I had the papers out, I had another look at other Colliers in the 1690- 1710 years and found another Silk Weaver, Abraham Collier Silk Weaver Number 2000, the earliest entry for a Silk Weaver to date. The 3 earliest entries have all been at St Dunstan's in Stepney.

Abraham Collier married Ann Russett 5.8.1694 at St Dunstan's and it appears that the couple had 12 children,
according to bp records at St Botolph's, Bishopsgate, St Dunstan's and St Leonards, Shoreditch.

The entries in the St Dunstan records state that Abraham was a weaver in Bethnal Green and Spitalfields.

The entries in the St Leonard records give the family address as Hollywell St.

It could be that some of the family became weavers.

Abraham & Elizabeth Collier

In looking for other Abraham Colliers, I found a series of strange entries:

Fleet Prison

Abraham Collier
married 8.6.1750
Elizabeth Farmer

This was a clandestine marriage under the Rules of the Fleet, but was recorded in 2 church records:

St Botolph, Bishopsgate

Abraham Collier, Weaver of St Botolph, Bishopsgate
married 8.6.1750
Elizabeth Farmer

Unnamed "Spitlefields" Church

Abraham Collier Weaver of Spitlefields
married 8.6.1750 (against the date, the word "Gillotts" is written)
Elizabeth Farmer


Parents of James Collier

As shown in a Timeline, Abraham & Elizabeth could be the parents of Chris' ancestor James Collier:


New Silk Weaver

In typing up some records, I reviewed the information we had on Family 6 and found the marriage of James Collier and Mary Ann Vickers, which showed that James' father was John Collier, Silk Weaver, who was new to us.

I temporarily set up a Family 4 with James& Elizabeth Collier of 9 Virginia Row, Bethnal Green (1851), whom I could not marry up with any other Family.

Progress 2018

Collier/Furby Family

A correspondent in Tasmania contacted me about Elizabeth Collier, (Weaver 217) in my records, who married John William Furby in 1833.

Family of James Collier

It made me have another look at my wife Chris' own family tree and I found an additional entry in the 1861 Census for the brother of Charles Collier Chris' 2 x Gt Grandfather:

43 Cranbrook Street, Bethnal Green

Joseph Collyer (should be Collier) Weaver 124 - Head 53 Silk Weaver
Mary A. Collyer Weaver 125 Wife 45
Alf'd Collyer Son 16 Chip Board Maker
Wm Collyer Son 14

All born Bethnal Green

It appears that Charles& Joseph's brother died young:

St Matthews, Bethnal Green

George Collier buried 30.10.1802 (age 10 months)
at Gibraltar Burying Ground, Bethnal Green

There was another brother John Collier born 1802. He may too have been a Silk Weaver and possibly th John Collier, Silk Weaver listed under Family 6 but I have been unable to trace any further information about that John Collier and his son James.

Progress 2019

Hard Times

A correspondent advised me of a further entry in the Selected Poor Law Removal & Settlement Records:

Hard Times

Francis Dearman

A descendant of Maria Collier and Francis Dearman pointed out errors in my article on Maria & Francis' son Francis Dearman.

While the facts in the article remain the same, I added some explanations on where the errors were:

Francis Dearman, Silk Weaver

Progress 2020

The heyday of silk weaving in London was the 18th Century after Huguenot weavers had left religious persecution in France and had re-established themselves in London.

The 19th Century saw the decline of the industry with the survival of the fittest and many weavers impoverished.

Most of the silk weavers named Collier would have supplied well-to-do weaver merchants and manufacturers but I stumbled across one Silk Manufacturer named Collier, Robert Collier, Silk Manufacturer circa 1860-1880.

Surprisingly, it has been difficult to find out more about Robert Collier born c 1820-1840 (?) but an extraordinary amount about the firm that owned the business and factory.

Apologies if I have not transcribed all the information correctly.


1837- 1845 James Vavasseur apprenticed to James Carter

Owners of Business/Factory

1843, 1845 Carter & Vavasseur

1850 Carter, Vavasseur & Rix

1856 Vavasseur & Rix

1865 Vavasseur, Taylor & Collier (Taylor retired & dissolved Co-Partnership 31.12.1865)

1866 Vavasseur, Carter & Collier

1870 – 1880 Vavasseur, Carter & Collier

1885 Vavasseur, Carter & Co

1890-1898 Vavasseur, Carter & Coleman


James Vavasseur
John Rix
Arthur Conyers Taylor
Robert Collier
Edwin Jones Carter
James Coleman

Like some other firms, the Vavasseur firm had a sales office away from the factory:

Address of Office

3 Huggin Lane, Wood Street (1866)
3 Huggin Lane E C (1875)

Address of Factory

15-18 New Nichol Street, Shoreditch (1866)
19-23 New Nichol Street, Shoreditch (1875)

Research undertaken has been listed as an Appendix

Search for Robert Collier, Silk Manufacturer

Co Partnership with James Vavasseur

Progress 2021/2022


Progress 2023

Robert Collier

In 2020, I stumbled across a Robert Collier, who was part of a co-partnership with James Vavasseur & others.

In trying to find out more, I came across articles which name some of the other manufacturers, that individual families with their home looms supplied.

Search for Robert Collier

Between them, the articles also give a picture of the history and structure of the silk industry.

The Town House, Fournier Street

Our Probus Club has set up a new Creative Writing/Reading Group and we were encouraged to bring a piece of writing, around the word "cafe", to the first meeting.

It reminded me of a memorable visit that I made to the Town House in Spitalfields.

I duly wrote a description of the visit but this generated a chain of events:

Creative Writing Project

Index to research undertaken

Things we wish we knew

For some time, I have wanted to publish a summary of what we have found out to date and things we wish we knew,under each family. At long last, I brought the summary to a form that might be published:

I am sure that there are still Silk Weavers named Collier we are yet to find, which may mean that some of the Collier Silk Weavers Families in the Register of Families may link up in some way.

I have reached some conclusions to date:


Colin Bower
12 October 2023

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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