John Collier (1685-1760)

From Historical Hastings Wiki


Offspring of Short name: John Collier

and Joined with-g2: Mary Cranston

Name Birth Death Joined with
Mary Collier


Life[edit | edit source]

John Collier, Esquire, Town Clerk, Mayor of Hastings and Baron of the Cinque Ports is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern Hastings. He was born in Eastbourne in 1685 and was appointed Town Clerk of Hastings in 1705 when he was aged 20.[1]

On the 17th August 1717, he married his second wife, Miss Mary Cranston in St Clements Church. His first wife had died in 1714 leaving him with several children. His second marriage to Mary was to produce a further 18 children, 13 of whom, including all his sons, died in his lifetime.

The family lived at Old Hastings House, building new stables opposite the house during 1739, which in 1959 became the Stables Theatre.[2]. Following the death of his wife, the house passed into the Milward family via the marriage of one of their daughters. Folliwing his marriage to Mary, John's legal work meant that he was in the Courts of London during Parliamentary and Court sittings (the Hastings Road was also often impassable by coach) and there exists a chain of correspondence between him and his wife which provides an insight into life during the period.[3]

John Collier died on the 9th of December 1760, aged 75. He had acquired a very large amount of land, including much of what is today the Country Park. His will left the enormous sum of £2000 to his daughter Elizabeth, the wife of Thomas Worge, which no doubt helped him build his large house at Rose Green on Battle Hill. [4] With Elizabeth, only five daughters survived him, another of of whom, Mary, married Edward Milward (1722-1811). [5]

Milward eventually acquired most (if not all) of Collier’s property, and by the end of the 18th century he owned most of the undeveloped land between the Priory Stream and Fairlight Church. Collier’s widow Mary wrote in 1764: “The way he (Milward) goes on here is quite amazing to all the world; neither house nor land within ten miles of this place that he will not purchase if it’s possible, by offering more than people can withstand.” Another daughter of John Collier, Cordelia, married Major-General James Murray, Governor of Quebec Province 1763-6 and the builder of Beauport house on The Ridge.

John Collier planted the elm trees at the foot of Old London Road hill.

  1. The Hastings Chronicle: 1700-1799 – The Hastings Chronicle, accessdate: 12 December 2019
  2. Hastings Chronicle
  3. Henry Cousins' 1911 book Hastings of Bygone Days and The Present
  4. O1.2 BEAUPORTv2.pdf: O1.2 BEAUPORTv2.pdf, accessdate: 12 December 2019
  5. The National Archives: COLLIER, MILWARD, LANE AND SAYER FAMILIES OF HASTINGS: FAMILY ARCHIVE | The National Archives, accessdate: 1 January 2020