Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 21, 2019
Webpage updated: January 03, 2020




The Collier family were for long known in Plymouth as wine and spirit merchants.  The first to arrive in the Town was Mr Jonathan Collier.  In 1676 he purchased a wine importing business in Southside Street, close to Plymouth's Barbican.  It is said that it was already well established but the family were to make their own mark on the Town over the succeeding two centuries and more.

Mortimer John Collier was the third son of Mr John and Mrs Emma Collier and was born on September 18th 1825.

After education at the Corporation Grammar School, Plymouth, and at Helston School, in Cornwall, he was sent to Germany in 1842.  He returned in 1843 and joined the family business of Messrs Collier & Company, wine merchants.  From 1849 onwards he was joined by his older brother, Mr William Frederick Collier.  In his younger days he took an active interest in politics, on the Whig side.

On August 7th 1851 Mr Mortimer John Collier married Miss Mary Elizabeth Harris at Saint Andrew's Church, Plymouth.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir William Snow Harris, the inventor of the lightening conductor for ships.

At some point he married Miss Sophie Whipple, daughter of Mr John Whipple, surgeon.

He was one of the first men to enrol in the Plymouth Rifle Volunteer Corps upon its formation in 1860, becoming its Ensign in February 1861 and its Captain later the same year.  In November 1870 he was appointed Major and set about improving the efficiency and organisation of the Corps, which included the erection of the Drill Hall at Millbay.  He retired from the Corps in 1885, by when he was Lieutenant-Colonel.

Mr Collins was also a member of the Royal Western Yacht Club and encouraged them to move their club house from East Stonehouse to Plymouth Hoe.  He helped to found the Plymouth Cricket Club and was responsible for bringing to Plymouth the All England and United All England teams to play on their ground on the Hoe.  He was also a keen fisherman and followed the fox hounds.

When his brother died in 1902 he became the senior partner in the business.

In November 1906 he had a serious accident while crossing the railway line at Horrabridge Station, as a result of which both his feet were amputated and he was confined to a wheel-chair.  A nurse was constantly in attendance upon him.

The business was expanded in 1910 when Messrs Wills and Son, of George Street, Plymouth, were taken over.

Mrs Sophie Collier died on October 30th 1913, aged 68 years.

Mr Mortimer John Collier, merchant, ship owner and wine merchant, died at his home, Foxhams, at Horrabridge, which he built in 1874, on Saturday October 28th 1916.  He was 91 years of age.  He was survived by two sons, Mr Mortimer Calmady Collier and Mr Claude Bertram Collier, and two daughters.