I have previously posted this material on the Collier Family Genealogy Forum, but have been advised it might be of use and interest to others with similar or variant names.I am descended from Thomas Collier, who came to Hingham, Mass. in 1635, and that family is the center of my work. I have some material on other families, and will be happy to help others in their research.
Trumbull County, Ohio and Lunenburg, Mass.
Colliers, Collers, etc. in Early Mass. and ME
I’m sure you are familiar with the background of Collier and related names, but for others who might read this, I quote from various sources, including A Dictionary of English Surnames, Reaney and Wilson, Routledge, London, 1991 -
‘Collier, Colier (Eng.) Ref to coal, charcoal, or "one who worked in, or came from, the village of Caulieres, in France."’ [I do not find Caulieres in an older Britannica Atlas I have, but I don’t doubt it is still there.]
Early individuals, "Ranulf colier", about 1150, in Lincolnshire.
"Bernard le coliere", 1172, in Somerset.
The names Collier, Colliar, Colliard, Colleer, Collyear, Collyer, and Colyer (variants) were in use generally by about 1375. …End of quotes.
There were Colliers, and variant spellings, in early Virginia, but my studies have been largely in those of New York, Massachusetts, and Maine, with some notice of other New England families. The first Massachusetts Collier of whom I find record is William, an investor in Plymouth Colony, who came himself in 1633 to Duxbury, with his wife, Jane Clark, and daughters Rebecca, Sarah, Mary, and Elizabeth -- there were other children, but all the others, including 4 sons, died at early ages in England. [The line of William and Elizabeth connects with the Thomas Collier line a few generations later.]
The second Collier arrival was our Thomas, and his family, in Hingham, 1635. Subject to more investigation, the third in New England was John Collor or Coller, who took the oath of fidelity in Watertown, Mass., in 1652. He married Hannah Cutler, and you can find a complete family listing for their descendants at the Collier Lineages website (http://epsilon.pair.com/phazel/collier/genweb/Coller-Cutler/Coller-Cutler.html ), submitted by family member Bob Coller. Some secondary sources on this family - town vital records and histories, for example - change the spelling to Collier, but Coller seems to have been the preferred one, and remains so. This family spread very rapidly throughout New England, and later New York, I believe.
In the case of William Collier, and the Hingham family, which within a generation or two had spread to New Jersey, Maine, Boston, and other South Shore towns, Collier was the most common spelling, but I have also seen Colyer, Colyare, Colliar, etc. In the very short record of the will of Thomas Collier (1), made in 1647, administration finally completed in 1660, the surname has 4 different spellings.
In short, I would say it is best not to get too excited about exact spelling in these early records. In original and secondary records of the descendants of the Hingham family, I have noted the following variations: Colier, Collier, Collyer, Colyar, Colyear, Colyer, Calliar, Colliar, Collar, Coller, Collers, Colliar, and Colyare. [In some New York families, also beware of the original Caljer or Kaljer, of the Netherlands or Belgium, being Anglicized to Collier, etc. in the Hudson Valley.]
At this remove from the original American families, we cannot know if there was a deliberate intention to alter a name from one form to another. If there was such a choice, I would think that the heavy majority was for Collier, which has long been the most common variant. The 1790 New York Census shows, for example:
Collier - 12
Coller - 5
Colier - 2
Collers - 1
Collyer - 1
Colyer - 1
Colliar - 1
TOTAL - 23 Families
Incidentally, my Collier family homepage can be found at
( Wade-Collier-MA/index.html" target=_newhttp://www.familytreemaker.com/users/c/o/l/Wade-Collier-MA/index.html ), and Mike Collier’s at (http://www.familytreemaker.com/users/c/o/l/Michael-D-Collier/index.html ), if you have a possible connection to our lines.