John Collier (1685-1760)
Born in Eastbourne to a publican, John Collier moved to Hastings in 1706 at the age of 21, to be appointed Town Clerk in the same year, holding that position continuously until 1749, with the only gaps being when he was voted to be Mayor. Eventually rising to be a Baron of the Cinque Ports, Collier is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern Hastings.
His first wife dying during 1714, 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.. Following the death of his wife, the house passed into the Milward family via the marriage of Mary, one of their daughters. Following 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.
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.  With Elizabeth, only five daughters survived him, another of of whom, Mary, married Edward Milward (1722-1811). 
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.
|Children of: John Collier and Elizabeth Elphick|
|Elizabeth Collier (1706-)
References & Notes
- Hastings Chronicle
- Henry Cousins' 1911 book Hastings of Bygone Days and The Present
- O1.2 BEAUPORTv2.pdf: O1.2 BEAUPORTv2.pdf, accessdate: 12 December 2019
- The National Archives: COLLIER, MILWARD, LANE AND SAYER FAMILIES OF HASTINGS: FAMILY ARCHIVE | The National Archives, accessdate: 1 January 2020