Mr Harvey Collyer, 31, was born on 26 November 1880.
Mr Collyer had four brothers, his twin brother Walter, George and William who, like Harvey, was an epileptic.
Harvey Collyer ran a grocery store in Bishopstoke. He was apparently well liked by the townspeople. He was the verger and for a time was a parish clerk of the local church, St Mary's. He was also in charge of the bells. His wife Charlotte was in service with the vicar Revd. S N Sedgwick.
Friends of the family had gone to Payette, Idaho several years before and made a success of the fruit farm they bought there. They wrote glowing accounts of the climate to the Collyers and advised them to come seek their fortune in Idaho. The Collyers did not seriously consider the proposition until Mrs Collyer began having lung problems (she suffered with Tuberculosis), at which point they decided to buy a farm in the same valley as their friends in America (Mrs Collyer later felt guilty that it was her own health problems that eventually caused the death of her husband.)
|"The day before we were due to sail (our neighbours) made much of us, it seemed as if there must have been hundreds who called to bid us goodbye and in the afternoon members of the curch arranged a surprise for my husband. They led him to a seat under the old tree in the churchyard and then some went up into the belfry and, in his honour, they rang all the chimes that they knew. It took more than an hour and he was very pleased. Somehow it makes me a little sad. They rand the old chimes as well as the gay ones and to me it was too much of a farewell ceremony." Charlotte Collyer (the Semi-Monthly Magazine) Read the full article|
The next morning the Collyers went to Southampton, where Mr Collyer drew from the bank the family's life savings (including the money from the sale of their store in Bishopstoke.) He took the money in banknotes instead of a draft, and put the money in the inside breast pocket of his coat. In the Titanic's hold were the few personal possessions that the family had kept after the sale of their home -- which meant that everything the Collyers owned was on board the Titanic.
Harvey wrote to his parents as the ship approached Queenstown:
Titanic April 11th
My dear Mum and Dad
It don't seem possible we are out on the briny wtiting to you. Well dears so far we are having a delightful trip the weather is beautiful and the ship magnificent. We can't describe the tables it's like a floating town. I can tell you we do swank we shall miss it on the trains as we go third on them. You would not imagine you were on a ship. There is hardly any motion she is so large we have not felt sick yet we expect to get to Queenstown today so thought I would drop this with the mails. We had a fine send off from Southampton and Mrs S and the boys with others saw us off. We will post again at new York then when we get to Payette.
Lots of love don't worry about us. Ever your loving children
When the Titanic collided with the iceberg Harvey went up on deck to find out what had happenned, he reported back to his wife: 'What do you think? We've struck an iceberg - a big one - but there's no danger. An officer told me so!'
The news would have roused Mrs Collyer, but the dinner that night had been too rich. So she just asked her husband if anybody seemed frightened, and when he said no, she lay back again in her bunk (Lord 1976).
Charlotte and Marjorie were rescued in lifeboat 14 but Harvey Collyer died in the sinking.
Mrs Collyer and little Marjorie were absolutely destitute when they reached New York, but Mrs Collyer decided to continue on to Payette to start a new life like her late husband had wanted to do, eventually however she returned to England where she remarried.
A memorial to him was erected in St Marys Church, Bishopstoke, Eastleigh. In the form of a magnificent notice board that is well used and looked after to this day, the inscription reads:
'Sacred to the memory of Harvey Collyer who fell asleep April 15th 1912 Age 31 years "Jesus said come."'
Payette, Idaho: Most sources incorrectly spell the Collyer's destination was Fayette Valley, Idaho but there is no such place. Payette is a town in south-eastern Idaho and is also the name of a major river, the area was named Payette County in 1917.
The Surrey Advertiser, 20 April 1912, Article
Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Sheila Jemima (1997) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, Sutton Publishing, Southampton City Council. ISBN 0 7509 1436 X
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757 3
Christopher M. Wardlow (1997) Catching up with the Collyer's[sic], Atlantic Daily Bulletin, No 2., p.7
George Behe, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK
References and Sources
Photo: Leatherhead Advertiser (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)
Articles and Stories
Surrey Advertiser and County Times (1912)