December 8, 1823, Keighley, Yorkshire, England.

November 1, 1912, New York City.

Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.


Son of a blacksmith and mill worker, Collyer began working in the local linen mill at age seven, but shortly after was apprenticed to a blacksmith in Ilkley. Around age 21, he began attending the Wesleyan church in Skipton Road. He married Harriet Watson in 1847, but she died giving birth to their second child two years later. In 1850, Collyer re-married, to Ann Longbottom, and emigrated to America. He first settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a smithy. In 1859, he moved from the Methodist church to the Unitarians. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he was appointed Minister at Large for the First Unitarian Church. During the American civil war, Collyer served with the Sanitary Commission, an organization similar to the Red Cross.

In 1862, Collyer became Minister in Charge at the North Side Unitarian Church in Chicago. However, both the church and his home burned in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1879, Collyer moved to New York City to become pastor of the Unitarian Church of the Messiah. He retired in 1896, and Leeds University awarded him an honorary Litt.D degree in 1907. His works include:

  1. O Lord Our God, When Storm and Flame
  2. O Ye Mourners, Cease to Languish
  3. ’Tis Finished, So the Savior Cried
  4. Unto Thy Temple, Lord, We Come
  5. With Thankful Hearts, O God, We Come