What happened to Francis Collier?

There has been a large gap between posts as I’ve had a lot of work on and been doing some courses but hopefully posts will be more frequent going forward.

Francis was the father of John Collier who emigrated to Australia with his wife Ann Schofield and their son Francis in 1840.  Francis was living with his wife Mary and their children Ann, Betty and Robert at the time of the 1841 census.  He was a weaver aged 45 and Mary was aged 50, remembering that ages of adults were rounded down to the nearest five in the 1841 English census.

Two months later in early August Mary died and was buried at St Chads churchyard in Rochdale on August the 8th.  Less than a year later Francis had married Esther Taylor, whose maiden name was Clegg.  Then he disappeared from the records as did she.  I bought three English death certificates but they were all incorrect.  I had a suspicion that they had emigrated somewhere but couldn’t find them in Australia or America.

This week that changed.  I hadn’t looked for Francis for a number of years but on a search I found a possible death for him in North Andover, Massachusetts, no parents were listed but his age fitted.  I then found a will for this Francis Collier.  It mentioned his three sons in Australia, James, John and Robert and his daughter Ellen in England, all of whom had been ‘unfilial’ to him, so were excluded from his will.  This confirmed I had the correct Francis but opened up other questions.  Francis died in North Andover on August 7, 1867 (almost or the same date his first wife had died on in 1841).

Collier Francis 1860 census US 4232225_00053

I knew John and Robert had emigrated to Australia but not James, I’ve yet to find him.  A quick search of Australian BDM indexes has not brought up many candidates.  Looking at some wills has disproved any initial possibilities.  He is still to be found.  I have Robert arriving in Australia but is he the Robert who married Mary Smith in Melbourne?  The names of their children fit in with family names and my instinct is yes but there is no death that fits him except for an inquest that is possibly / probably him.

Back to Francis who left his estate of $3000.00 (surprisingly high for a labourer / carter / woolsorter, to his wife and (presumably) brother-in-law Thomas Clegg, a manufacturer in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Francis and Esther were living in North Andover by 1848.

Collier Francis 1848 Tax West Andover MA USA 40904_263633__0007-00188

Ellen Collier, who remained in England, married James Hilton at St Chads in Rochdale, Lancashire on May 27, 1844.  They had ten children: Mary, John (married Elizabeth Grindrod), Robert (married Mary Alice Healey), Sarah Ann, William (married Martha Cook), James, Francis (married Elizabeth Stansfield), Walter, Thomas and George.

John, Robert and Ellen all named children Francis;  Robert and Ellen after Francis had married his second wife.  This does not suggest they were estranged from their father yet his will of 1865 suggests they were, or he thought they were.  Francis had two other children who had survived to adulthood, Ann who married William Butterworth who disappears after the census of 1861 and probably had died by the time her father’s will was written in 1865 as she is not mentioned.  His other daughter Betty married Robert Stott and she disappears after 1841.  Again the inference is that she had died before her father’s will was written.

If anyone has any information about James or Robert Collier I would love to hear from you.  Ellen had numerous descendants and likewise I’d love to hear from you.  As always I have full references.

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