Person    | Male  Born 6/1/1856  Died 16/5/1939

William Jefferies Collins

Categories: Architecture, Property

Architect and housing developer. He purchased twenty three acres at the foot of Muswell Hill in 1899, and began to build traditional family sized houses. This area had been occupied by Rookfield, Avenue House and another house, known as Lalla Rookh. In 1912 he moved to Southampton, leaving the development which became Rookfield Garden Village, (see there for more information) to two of his sons, Herbert and William Brannan Collins.

From Airgale: Born Middlesex. Married Mary Martin Brannan 9 August 1879. Died Southampton.

William Jeffries Collins was born on 6 January 1856 in Hoxton, Middlesex (now Greater London), the son of Benjamin Collins (1830-1909) and Frances Collins née Jeffries (c.1822-1890). His birth was registered in the 1st quarter of 1856 in the Shoreditch registration district, Middlesex (now Greater London).

In the 1861 census he was shown as aged 5 years, living at 23 Haberdashers Street, Shoreditch, with his parents, three siblings: Benjamin Collins (1854-1922); John Collins (1858-1942) and Frank Collins (1859-1942), together with three adult boarders. His father was shown as a bookbinder employing 5 men, 7 women, 5 boys and 2 girls.

He was described in the 1871 census as a carpenter's and joiner's apprentice, residing at 3 Osborne Villas, Hornsey, Middlesex (now Greater London), with his parents and six siblings. His father was shown as a master bookbinder employing 20 men, 6 boys and 26 females. His siblings were: Benjamin Collins - bookbinder's apprentice; John Collins - at school; Frank Collins - at school; Amelia A. Collins (1864-1950) - at school; Arthur Collins (1865-1941) - at school and Alice Collins (b.1868) - at home. 

In the 3rd quarter of 1879 he married Mary Martyn Brannan (1858–1950) in the Hackney registration district and despite our picture source claiming that they had six children, they had seven: Ada Collins (1881-1969); William Brannan Collins (1883-1977); Herbert Collins (1885-1975); Ethel May Collins (1886-1968); Rose Collins (1889-1889); Major Martyn Collins (1892-1917) and Ralph Sextus Collins (1893-1972). (Major Martyn Collins died whilst serving as a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in WW1).

When the 1881 census was taken he was described as a builder employing 17 men and living at 98 Florence Road, Hornsey, with his wife and his widowed mother-in-law, Elizabeth Jane Brannan (1825-1905). Electoral registers from 1885 to 1889 list him at 50 Stapleton Hall Road, Stroud Green, Hornsey, Middlesex.

By the time of the 1891 census in which he was shown as a builder, he was living at 92 Stapleton Hall Road, Hornsey, with his wife and their four surviving children: Ada; William; Herbert and Ethel, together with his mother-in-law, a nursemaid and female general domestic servant.

Electoral registers from 1900 to 1904 list him at 'Fortismere', Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, Middlesex (now Greater London) and this address is confirmed in the 1901 census in which he was shown as a master builder living there with his wife, five of their children: Ada, William - a builders assistant; Herbert - a land surveyor's assistant; Major and Ralph.

The electoral registers in 1907 and 1909 list him at 'Rookfield', Muswell Hill, London and when he completed his 1911 census return form he described himself as builder & landowner, living there in a sixteen roomed property with his wife, together with a cook, a gardener and a female general domestic servant. He confirmed on the census form that his wife had given birth to seven children of which only six were still alive.

Electoral registers in 1915 list him at Rowborough, Highfield Lane, Southampton, Hampshire, and whilst he maintained business premises at 13 Firs Parade, Fortis Green Road, London, electoral registers from 1925 show his abode as The Wilderness, West End, Southampton, Hampshire.

Probate records confirm his address to have remained as The Wilderness, West End, Southampton and that he died, aged 83 years, on 16 May 1939. His death was registered in the 2nd quarter of 1939 in the Winchester registration district, Hampshire. Probate was originally granted on 11 October 1939 jointly to two of his sons: William Brannan Collins, a company director and to Herbert Collins, a chartered architect. His effects totalled £530, 841-14s-10d. However, a further grant of probate was registered on 10 March 1942 to an Ebenezer Cunningham, a professor of mathematics and the effects now totalled £411,852-19s-1d.

Credit for this entry to: Alan Patient of www.plaquesoflondon.co.uk and Andrew Behan.

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William Jefferies Collins

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