Blackmore Area Local History

D W Coller (1805 - 1884): local historian

A biography and 'Index' of villages written about by Duffield William Coller in 'A People's History of Essex' (1861).
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Extracts from D W Coller's work
Blackmore Doddinghurst
Fryerning High Ongar Ingatestone Mountnessing

Norton Mandeville Shenfield Stondon Massey Willingale Writtle
The following biography is an extract from 'Ingatestone and the Great Essex Road with Fryerning' by E. E. Wilde (1913).

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 journal. 

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 histories.’ 

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. 
Last Updated 27 March 2009