Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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COLLYER, Robert, clergyman, born in Keighly, Yorkshire, England, 8 December, 1828. He educated himself, having" left school at the age of eight years to earn his living in a factory. The only instruction he received after that was in a night-school that he attended two winters. When fourteen years old he was apprenticed to a blacksmith. In 1849 he became a local Methodist preacher, and the year following came to the United States, and, while still working as a hammer-maker in Shoe-makertown, Pennsylvania, preached on Sundays. His views gradually changed in the direction of Unitarianism, and he was arraigned before the conference for heresy, and his license to preach revoked. The change in his views of the atonement was partly brought about by conversations with Lucretia Mott. The circumstance that the Methodist clergy at that time were restrained from freely denouncing slavery had much influence in converting him to Unitarianism. While still working at his craft, he became known as an eloquent public speaker. In 1859 he united with the Unitarian church, and, going to Chicago, Illinois, became a missionary of the Unitarian church in that City, and in 1860 organized the Unity church, which began with only seven members, but rapidly increased in numbers under his spirited and earnest preaching. In 1861 he was a camp-inspector for the Sanitary commission. His reputation as a preacher and lecturer soon extended over the country. In September, 1879, he became pastor of the Church of the Messiah in New York city. He has re-visited England five times since 1865, and travelled in other parts of Europe. He is the author of "Nature and Life" (Boston, 1866); "A Man in Earnest : Life of A. H. Conant" (1868); " The Life that Now Is" (1871); "The Simple Truth, a Home Book" (1877); " A History of the Town and Parish of Ilkley" (Otley, England, 1886), written in collaboration with Horsetail Turner; " Lectures to Young Men and Women" (1886).
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