The following biography is an extract from
'Ingatestone and the Great
Essex Road with Fryerning' by E.
E. Wilde (1913).
27 March 2009
Duffield William Augustine Coller was born at Ingatestone on the 26th of February, 1805. ‘His godmother, a Roman Catholic refugee nun,
Sister Duffield, living at Ingatestone Hall, took considerable interest in
young Coller, her intention being to have him educated for a priest.’ Here in
the days of his youth he received an excellent classical education from Father
John Clarkson, but Sister Duffield’s death interfered with the boy’s prospects,
or perhaps he had no desire himself for the priesthood; in any case he was
apprenticed, this time for three years, to a shoemaker at Rayleigh, but again
he broke his bonds. From his earliest
days his inclination was for literary pursuits, and while tailoring at
Ingatestone he had often sent short poems to the local papers, some of which
were printed – ‘June’, ‘The age of Tudors’, ‘Vagrants’. In 1827 he was taken on
to the staff of the Chelmsford Chronicle, then run by George Meggy and Thomas
Chalk, and he continued with them until 1869.
Once in their offices he insisted upon being apprenticed, and went
through the whole routine of the office, at the same time contributing to the
In 1858 he commenced the issue
of a popular history of Essex,
brought out in thirty-nine monthly parts, price threepence. Calling it The
People’s History of Essex, he says in his preface: ‘The aim has been … to
convey to the Essex reader an idea of the interesting and hoary memories that
cling to the soil on which he lives, and the part which his country has taken
in the events, triumphs, and struggles of the past.’ The book was quite a
success in the county, but is not very widely known, and is, I believe, now out
of print. Before the days of bicycles he
explored the whole county in search of correct and recent information about the
parishes. ‘The volume is trustworthy and
useful, containing a certain amount of information not to be found in the older
Besides his journalistic
work and his History, Coller wrote many articles in local magazines. In his later years he was editor of the Essex
Weekly News. He was twice married, first to a daughter of Mr. Turnedge,
builder, of Ingatestone; she is buried in Fryerning churchyard. His second wife was a daughter of Sam.
Akerman, a London
solicitor. He passed away on the 18th of May, 1884,
in his house in the new
London Road, Chelmsford.