Webpage created: September 21, 2019
Webpage updated: September 21, 2019
ROBERT PORRETT COLLIER (1817-1886)
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.
Robert Porrett Collier was the eldest son of Mr John and Mrs Emma Collier. He was born at Mount Tamar, in the parish of Saint Budeaux, on June 21st 1817. He was educated first at Plymouth Corporation Grammar School and then privately by the Reverend John Kempe, the curate of Tavistock Parish Church, after which he went to Trinity College, Cambridge University. He entered the Inner Temple in June 1838.
He was not destined to play his part in the management of the family business, Messrs Collier and Company, though. He had started making political speeches as early as 1841 and in January 1843, the year he received his degree, which had been delayed by poor health, he was called to the Bar. Although his practice was based at Temple, in London, he joined the western circuit and this became a familiar figure at the Plymouth and Devonport Quarter Sessions. Indeed it was in a case at the Devon County Assizes in Exeter in July 1845 that he first made his name.
On April 14th 1844 Mr Robert Porrett Collier married Miss Isabella Rose, daughter of Mr William Rose Rose, of Wolston Heath, Warwickshire.
In July 1852 he was elected as Liberal Member of Parliament for Plymouth and continued to serve the Town in that capacity until October 1871.
From July 1848 until March 1856 Mr Collier was Recorder of Penzance, in Cornwall.
On October 2nd 1863 he was appointed as Solicitor-General and in December 1868 became Attorney-General. In November 1871 he was called to the Bench and served for a short period as a Judge of Common Pleas, before being appointed as a Privy Councillor. This appointment was not without controversy, however, and was the subject of a "Punch" cartoon.
He was President of the Devonshire Association in 1879.
On July 1st 1885 he was created Baron Monkswell, of Monkswell, Devon.
Mrs Isabella Collier died suddenly on April 10th 1886 and with his own health failing, Robert took himself off to the French Riviera. Mr Robert Porrett Collier, Lord Monkswell, died at Grasse, near Cannes, in France, on Wednesday October 27th 1886. His body was brought home to England and he was buried in the Brompton Cemetery, London, on November 3rd 1886.