The Collyer family set of for a new life in America on April the 10th, 1912. They boarded the Titanic in Southampton; one of them would not complete the journey.
The head of the family, Mr. Harvey Collyer, was born on Friday the 26th of November 1880 in West Horsley, Surrey, England. His father, George, was a gardener, his mother was called Ellen, (nee Nunns) she is listed as ‘gardener’s wife’ in the 1881 census, which you can see below.
The census shows a family of eight in total at that time, Harvey, it appears, was a twin. The twins were the youngest of the family at that time. His siblings are listed as: William, Nellie, Walter, Fanny and George, Harvey’s twin.
The district of birth is shown at the end each individual entry.
West Horsley Place
George Collyer, Head, 31, gardener, domestic gen. East Horsley,
Ellen Collyer, wife, 33, gardener’s wife, Dorking, Surrey
William Collyer, son, 9, scholar, East Horsley, Surrey
Nellie Collyer, daughter, 7, scholar, West Horsley, Surrey
Walter Collyer, son, 5, scholar, West Horsley, Surrey
Fanny Collyer, daughter, 3, West Horsley, Surrey
Harvey Collyer, son, 4 months, West Horsley, Surrey
George Collyer, son, 4 months, West Horsley, Surrey
By 1891 George has another sibling, a sister called Minnie. Harvey had another sister named Bertha, who, in 1881 was staying with her maternal Grandparents. She can not be found in the 1891 Census but appears withher parents in 1891. The 1881, 1891 and 1901 census returns are below.
Harvey Nunns, Head, Marr, 34, Hostler, Send, Surrey
Emily Nunns, Wife, Married, 36, Shipley, Sussex
Harry Nunns, Son, Unmarried, 19, Bookstall Assistant, Dorking,Surrey
Jessie Nunns, Daur, 16, School Teacher, West Horsley, Surrey
Bertha Collyer, G Daur, 9, Scholar, West Horsley, Surrey
George Collyer, Head, married, 41, Gardener Domestic Servant b Surrey, Horsley West
Ellen Collyer, Wife, married, 42, b Surrey, Dorking
Walter Collyer, son, single, 15, Gardener Domestic Servant b Surrey, Horsley West
Harvey Collyer, son, single, 10, Scholar b Surrey, Horsley West
George Collyer, son, single, 10, scholar b Surrey, Horsley West
Minnie Collyer, daughter, single, 6, scholar b Surrey, Horsley West
Church Walk, East Side, 1 Downside Cottages
George Collyer, Head, m, 51, Jobbing Gardener, b Surrey, East Horsley
Ellen Collyer, Wife, m. 53, b Surrey, Dorking
Bertha Collyer, daughter, s, 27, Dressmaker, b Surrey East Horsley
Harvey Collyer, Son, s, 20, Ironmongers porter, b Surrey, West Horsley
George Collyer, son, s, 20, Groom Domestic, b Surrey, West Horsley
Minnie Collyer, daughter, s, 16, Housemaid Domestic, b Surrey, West Horsley
As can be seen, in 1901 young Harvey is an Ironmongers Porter. I wonder what that entailed exactly? I note too that his siblings are all employed in a variety of jobs.
The year of 1903 saw the marriage of Harvey to his slightly older bride Charlotte Annie Tate. Their marriage entries are:
Name: Harvey Collyer
Year of Registration: 1903
Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun
Name: Charlotte Tate
Year of Registration: 1903
Quarter of Registration: Apr-May-Jun
Charlotte was born on Friday the 1st of October 1880 to Thomas and Charlotte Tate (nee Clark) in Lincolnshire, England.
Her entry of birth is shown below.
Name: Charlotte Annie Tate
Year of Registration: 1880
Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec
District: Glanford Brigg
In 1881 Charlotte’s father it seems was a watchmaker, however by 1891 he has, it can be seen, become both a watchmaker and Ironmonger then in 1901 a watchmaker alone once more. What happened to the Ironmonger job?
In 1881 Charlotte Annie is shown has having one sibling in the census return, George Henry Tate, who was 7 years old at the time, a gap of around six and a half years between them.
Ten years later and we can see she has been joined by three more siblings: Eliza Jane aged 7, Thomas aged 5 and James Godfrey aged 4. All, it seems were born in the same place.
The census return of 1901 shows Charlotte Annie Tate as now being 20 years old, but no job is listed. You will see too that no further siblings have been added to the Tate family.
Below are the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census returns for the Tate family.
Market Street, Winterton, Lincolnshire
Thomas Godfrey Tate, Head, married, 32, Watchmaker b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Parker Tate, Wife, married, 32, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
George Henry Tate, son, 7, scholar b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Annie Tate, daughter, 6 months, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Thomas Godfrey Tate, Head, married, 42, Watchmaker & Ironmonger b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Parker Tate, wife, married, 42, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
George Henry Tate, Son, s, 17, Watchmaker apprentice b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Annie Tate, daughter, 10, Scholar b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Eliza Jane Tate, daughter, 7, Scholar b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Thomas Tate, son, 5, Scholar b Lincolnshire, Winterton
James Godfrey Tate, son, 4, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Market Street, Winterton, Lincolnshire
Thomas G Tate, Head, 52, Watch Maker, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Parker Tate, wife, 52, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Charlotte Annie Tate, Daughter, 20, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Eliza Jane Tate, Daughter, 17, Pupil Teacher, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
Thomas Tate, son, 15, Draper Apprentice, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
James Godfrey Tate, 14, School Boy, b Lincolnshire, Winterton
As has been shown, Charlotte Annie Tate married Harvey Collyer in 1903 and the following year saw the birth of their only child, a daughter, named Marjorie Lottie Collyer, who also came to be known as Madge. Born on Thursday 28th January, 1904 her birth registration details are as follows:
Name: Marjorie Lottie Collyer
Year of Registration: 1904
Quarter of Registration: Jan-Feb-Mar
The Collyer family lived at 25 Church Road, Mount Hill in Bishopstoke, Hampshire.
Harvey, who is reported to have suffered from epilepsy, managed to run a successful grocery store in their home town of Bishopstoke as well as serving as the verger at Saint Mary’s Church. His wife, Charlotte, worked as the housekeeper to the Vicar, Rev. Sedgwick.
But sadly it seems that Harvey’s wife, Marjorie’s mother, was not a well person when the year 1912 came along. It is known that she was suffering from tuberculosis, a very severe and life threatening illness in the those days and it is reported that because of this the decision was made to move to America and a better climate where the family could start a new life just like countless others, before and after them, a daunting prospect to young Marjorie who was to leave all her friends behind.
Marjorie, known to many as Madge, was taken one day onto her fathers lap and he asked her ‘How should you like to go to America?’ Madge felt she would like it and with the knowledge of her mothers not much spoken about ill health in mind, she said as much to her father.
The plan was to join some family friends on a fruit farm in Payette, Idaho.
It is very touching to note that on the day before the Collyer family left for Southampton and the Titanic, the villagers turned out in large numbers to bid them farewell. An hour long concert was given too, in honour of all the work Harvey had done for the church.
Madge is reported to have felt it was ‘All too much of a farewell ceremony,’ and it made her feel uneasy.
The next day saw them all up early and getting ready to leave for their new life. Harvey went to the bank and withdrew all the money, money that had come from the sale of their shop, and tucked the cash into his breast pocket.
The bank clerk apparently tried to persuade Harvey to take a bankers draft instead, but to no avail. I find it amazing to think of Harvey having, what would have been a considerable amount of cash, in his pocket, indeed all the money they had, instead of a bank draft, a sign of the times?
They arrived at Southampton and boarded Titanic making their way on board ship to the second class accommodation that they had booked. As is widely known, second class on Titanic was often compared to first class on other ships. Their combined ticket cost £26 and 5 shillings.
Mrs. Charlotte Collyer was, shortly after the sinking of the Titanic, to relate her time on board to a writer from an American women’s magazine, a supplement of the Washington Post.
She recalls the large crowd that had come to see the ship off and how "wonderful" the ship was and that it was more "splendid and huge than I had dreamed of."
"The other crafts in the harbour were like cockle shells beside her, and they, mind you were boats of the American and other lines that a few years ago were thought enormous."
In the article Charlotte tells us of how she responded to a friend who asked if Charlotte was afraid to "venture on the sea" with the response "What on this boat! Even the worst storm could not harm her."
Later in the story she tells of how on the night of the 14th of April, she had just climbed into her berth when a stewardess came in and apparently said to Charlotte "Do you know where we are? We are in what’s called the Devils hole." On being asked what this meant, the stewardess is reported to have said "That is a dangerous part of the ocean. Many accidents have happened near there. They say icebergs drift down as far as this." No name is given for the stewardess and Charlotte claims she perished in the sinking.
A little after10pm Harvey came in and woke her up. They chatted for a while and then he got ready for bed "And then the crash!" "The sensation to me was as if the ship had been seized by a giant hand and shaken once, twice then stopped dead in its course. That is to say there was a long backward jerk, followed by a shorter one. I was not thrown out of my berth and my husband staggered on his feet only slightly. We heard no strange sounds, no rending of plates and woodwork, but we noticed that the engines had stopped running. They tried to start the engines a few minutes later but after some coughing and rumbling there was silence once more."
At first the Collyer’s were not worried, Harvey suggesting that there may be something wrong in the engine room and that he would not go on deck to investigate.
Then, deciding to find out what was going on after all, Harvey put his coat on and left his wife with their young daughter, Madge.
Harvey seemed to return quickly and was excited. He reported to his wife that "We have struck an iceberg, a big one, but there is no danger an officer just told me so."
They all stayed in their cabin for some time, listening to various noises, neither of them it seems was worried, Charlotte felt her husband would have gone to his berth if had not been for them "Suddenly" hearing "Hundreds" of people running along the passageway outside their door.
It was then that Charlotte and Harvey decided it was best to go on deck and see what was happening. Little Marjorie was quickly wrapped in a White Star cabin blanket over her night dress and they all left the cabin for the last time, leaving all their belongings behind them, including Harvey’s watch. Mr. and Mrs. Collyer were sure they would be returning.
They stood on deck watching the drama unfolding around them. Shouts of "women and children first" and "Lower the boats" went up from various crew members.
A crew member, seeing the that Charlotte and little Madge were not getting into a boat, "Wrenched" Madge for her mothers side and threw her into lifeboat 14. He then grabbed Charlotte by her waist and forced her to follow. Harvey is said to have shouted after her "Go, Lotty! For God’s sake, be brave and go! I’ll get a seat in another boat." It was not to be and Harvey became another statistic of this awful disaster.
Shortly after arriving in New York aboard the rescue ship, Carpathia, Marjorie was interviewed by the ‘Brooklyn Eagle.’
This is the story she told:
"My father raised me in his arms and kissed me, and then he kissed my mother. She followed me into the boat. The women in one of the other boats said that they wanted somebody to row for them and father got in that boat. The stars were shining and it was just like day. Some sailor put a rug around me mother to keep her warm. There were so many in our lifeboat that we had to sit up all the time. Nobody could lie down. My mother was so close to one of the sailors with the oars that sometimes the oar caught in her hair and took big pieces out of it. There was one officer in our boat who had a pistol. Some men jumped into the boat on top of the women and crushed them and the officer said that if they didn’t stop he would shoot. Another man jumped and he shot him. My mother says I called out ‘Don’t shoot!’ But I don’t remember it. While we were rowing away we heard a lot of people crying and the women in our boat asked the officer what the noise was and he said that the people on the decks were singing. We rowed around for seven hours. All the time I was frightened a whole lot and sometimes I cried. I cried hardest when I thought of my dolly back there in the water with nobody to mind it and keep it from getting wet."
It is odd that Madge should think her father was in another boat manning an oar. Apparently at the time she told her story to the reporter she was not aware that her father had perished.
Mother and daughter were in the same lifeboat as Eva Hart and her mother, under the command of 5th officer Lowe, who during the night corralled a number of boats together for safety. At one point, he transferred all the passengers from one boat into another so that he could return to the scene of the sinking to search for survivors.
Charlotte and Madge on arriving in New York were still hopeful that Harvey had survived. Sadly, as we already know, this was not the case.
Below is a letter that Charlotte wrote to her mother-in-law on the 21st April 1912.
"My dear mother and all,
I don’t know how to write to you or what to say, I feel I shall go mad sometimes but dear as much as my heart aches it aches for you to for he is your son and the best that ever lived. I had not given up hope till today that he might be found but I’m told all boats are accounted for. Oh mother how can I live without him. I wish I’d gone with him if they had not wrenched Madge from me I should have stayed and gone with him. I live for her little sake otherwise she would have been an orphan. The agony of that night can never be told. Poor mite was frozen. I have been ill but have been taken care of by a rich New York Doctor and feel better now. Sometimes I feel we live too much for each other that is why I’ve lost him. But mother we shall meet him in Heaven. When that band played "Nearer my God to Thee" I know he thought of you and me for we both loved that hymn. I will work for his Darling as long as she needs me. Oh she is a comfort but she don’t realise yet that her Daddy is in Heaven. There are some dear children here who have loaded her with lovely toys but it’s when I’m alone with her she will miss him. Oh mother I haven’t a thing in the world that was his only rings. Everything we had went down. Will you, dear mother, send me on a last photo of us, get it copied I will pay you later on. God Bless you dear mother and help and comfort you in this awful sorrow. Your loving Child Lot."
From ‘The Washington Post’ of Sunday April 28,1912-
New York, April 27- If the cable ships Mackay-Bennett or Minia bring to Halifax the body of Harvey Collyer of England, one of the Titanic victims, it will mean more than the recovery of his body to his widow, Mrs Margaret Collyer and her 8 year old daughter, who were saved. Mr Collyer had strapped in a money belt when he went down with the liner the familys entire fortune, $5,000. with which they intended to purchase a farm in the west.
Sadly Harvey’s body was never found.
Two things stand out for me, firstly, how were the paper to know the importance of her husbands body over the money, secondly- it should be noted that her first name is given as Margaret instead of Charlotte.
Charlotte received £40/$200 from the American Red Cross emergency fund, £90/$450 from another fund to help fulfil the dream of living in Idaho. However, grief stricken at the loss of her husband, after a brief stay in America she and Madge returned home to Bishopstoke, the journey made possible by extremely kind donations from friends in New York. The large sum received being £400/$2000. On top of which Charlotte earned £60/$300 writing an article for a women’s magazine, already mentioned
Charlotte remarried in the hope of bringing order and stability to their lives but in 1914 she finally succumbed to Tuberculosis and died. Madge, unwanted by her Stepfather, was made a ward of court, the thought of which had horrified her mother.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that after a short spell in a boarding school Madge went to live with her father’s brother, Walter, whom she called Uncle Wad.
In the 1927, Madge married a Royden Bernard B. Dutton who was a motor engineer repairing a fleet of grocery delivery vans. Fate struck again when their new baby died shortly after birth. Madge and Royden never had any more children. Madge’s spare time was taken up with gardening, her dogs and her cats.
Tragedy struck again in 1943 when Royden died at the age of 41.Madge never remarried and spent the next 20 years of her life working as a doctor’s receptionist and looking after her cottage in Chilworth. After moving into a nursing home in Alverstoke, Gosport in the early 1960’s, Madge suffered a fatal stroke on Tuesday 26th February 1963.
Graham Fox 31st December 2006.
1. William Collyer b 1807 East Horsely, Surrey
+ Jane // b 1807 in Wonston, Hants
2. Ann Collyer b 1831 Surrey, England
2. William Collyer b 1836 Surrey
2. Henry Collyer b 1836 Surrey
2. Frederic Collyer b 1845 East Horsley, Surrey
2. George Collyer b 1850 East Horsley, Surrey
+ Ellen Nunns b 1848 Dorking, Surrey
3. William Collyer b 1870 East Horsley, Surrey
+ (1896) Eliza Ann Barr b 1870 Knightsbridge, London
4. William Joseph G Collyer b 1897 Streatham, Surrey
4. Betty Ellen Collyer b 1899 Streatham, Surrey
3. Bertha Collyer b 1872 West Horsley, Surrey
3. Nellie Collyer, b 1874 West Horsley, Surrey
3. Walter Collyer, b 1876 West Horsley, Surrey
+ (1899) Edith Fanny Norris 1874 Bourton, Somerset
3. Fanny Collyer, b 1878 West Horsley, Surrey
3. Harvey Collyer b 1881 West Horsley, Surrey
+ Charlotte Annie Tate b 1880 Lincolnshire
4. Marjorie Lottie Collyer b 1904 in Surrey
3. George Collyer b 1881 West Horsley, Surrey
3. Minnie Elizabeth Collyer b 1884 West Horsley, Surrey
1. Eldred NUNNS b 1797 Surrey
+ Jane // b 1800 Surrey
2. Alfred NUNNS b 1819 Ockham, Surrey
+ (1848) Frances Harriet USBORNE b 1821
3. John G NUNNS b 1849 Ashford, Kent
2. Harvey NUNNS b 1827 Surrey d 1892 Epsom, Surrey
+ (1847) Emily NICHOLSON b 1824 Shipley, Sussex d between 1881-1891
3. Ellen NUNNS b 1847 Dorking Surrey (see Collyer family for spouse and children)
3. William NUNNS b 1848 Dorking, Surrey
3. Alice NUNNS b 1853 Dorking, Surrey
3. Herbert NUNNS b 1856 Dorking, Surrey
3. Walter NUNNS b 1858 Dorking, Surrey
3. Fanny NUNNS b 1859 Dorking, Surrey
3. Bertha NUNNS b 1861 Dorking, Surrey
3. Harry NUNNS b 1862 Dorking, Surrey
+ (1889) Elizabeth Mary VIDLER
3. Jessie NUNNS b 1864 Dorking, Surrey
2.Israel NUNNS b 1831 Surrey d 1853 Dorking, Surrey
1. William TATE b 1822 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+. Sarah Ann HALL b 1822 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Eliza Jane TATE b 1845 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+ Walter A GOODWIN b 1843 Winterton, Lincolnshire
3. Richard Walter GOODWIN b 1883 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Thomas Godfrey TATE b 1848 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+ (1872) Charlotte Parker CLARK b 1848 Winterton, Lincolnshire
3. George Henrty TATE b 1874 Winterton, Lincolnshire
3. Charlotte Annie TATE b 1 Oct 1880 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+ (1903) Harvey COLLYER b 1881 West Horsley, Surrey
4. Marjorie Lottie COLLYER b 1904
3. Eliza Jane TATE b 1884 Winterton, Lincolnshire
3. Thomas TATE b 1886 Winterton, Lincolnshire
3. James Godfrey TATE b 1887 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Sarah Francis TATE b 1858 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Wilhelmina TATE b 1860 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Clara Louisa TATE b 1861 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Annie Sophia TATE b 1862 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Alice Maud Mary TATE b 1864 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Edith Minnie TATE b 1866 Winterton, Lincolnshire
1. James CLARK b 1819 Brigg, Lincolnshire
+ (1846) Charlotte COLLEY b 1822 Siternidge Scawby, Lincolnshire
2. Charlotte Parker CLARK b 1848 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. James CLARK b 1846 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+ Margaret b 1852 Hull, Yorkshire
3. James Parker CLARK b 1875 Hull, Yorkshire
3. Marie L CLARK b 1879 Hull, Yorkshire
2. Lavinia Sarah CLARK b 1850 Winterton, Lincolnshire
+ (1875) William Edward COWBURN
2. Anne E CLARK b 1852 Winterton, Lincolnshire
2. Lucretia Jane CLARK b 1857 Winterton, Lincolnshire
East Horsley, Surrey
William Collyer, 34,
Jane Collyer, 33
John Collyer, 29
Ann Collyer, 10
William Collyer, 5
Henry Collyer, 2
East Horsley Street
William Collyer, Head, Marr, 44, Gardener, E. Horsley, Surrey
Jane Collyer, Wife, Marr, 43, Wonston, Hants
Henry Collyer, Son, 12, Agricultrial Labourer, E. Horsley, Surrey
Frederic Collyer, Son, 6, E. Horsley, Surrey
George Collyer, Son, 1, E. Horsley, Surrey (father of Harvey Collyer)
William Collyer, Head, Marr, 53, Gardener, E. Horsley, Surrey
Jane Collyer, Wife, Marr, 53, Wonston, Hants
William Collyer, Son, UnM, 24, Ag Lab, E. Horsley, Surrey
Frederic Collyer, Son, UnM, 14, Farm Boy, E. Horsley, Surrey
George Collyer, Son, 11, Farm Boy, E. Horsley, Surrey (father of Harvey Collyer)
Henry Farmer, Lodger, UnM, 18, Bricklayer, E. Ockham
East Horsley, Surrey
William Collyer, Head, Married, 64, Gardener, E. Horsley, Surrey
Jane Collyer, Wife, Married, 64, Gardeners Wife, Wonston, Hants
George Collyer, Head, Married, 21, Gardener, E. Horsley, Surrey
Ellen Collyer, Wife, Married, 23, Gardeners Wife, Dorking, Surrey
William Collyer, Son, 4 Months, E. Horsley, Surrey
East Horsley, Surrey
William Collyer, Head, Married, 75, Gardener Domestic Serv, East Horsley, Surrey
Jane Collyer, Wife, Married, 74, Wonston, Hants.
193 [street unknown]
William Collyer, Head, m, 30, Gardener Domestic, East Horsley, Surrey
Eliza Ann Collyer, Wife, m, 31, Knightsbridge, London
William J Cleaver, Son, 3, Streatham, London
Betty Ellen Cleaver, Daur, 1, Streatham, London
Census returns Birth Marriage and Death indexes
Titanic, Women and Children First by Judith Geller 1998 ISBN 1 85 260 594 4 for family details and the Titanic voyage, money recieved after the sinking and for details of later years of Marjorie's life. Washington Daily Post, women's magazine section from 1912.
Details of voyage, sinking and other sunjects. Titanic relief fund records,various. Regarding sums of money recieved by Charlotte and Marjorie.