Life story shared by Yota Dimitriadi with information from her obituaries from newspapers of 1911
Elizabeth Collier was the second wife of Edward Jackson, founder of the iconic Jackson’s Department store in Reading. She was the sister of E.P. Collier J.P., the then Chairman of the Reading Education Committee. She was one of the founders and for many years president, of the Ladies’ Working Society at King’s-road Baptist Church. She was actively involved for 42 years as a member and was also a member of the choir when she was younger. There she must have met her future husband, Edward. They got married in 1891, two years after Edward’s first wife Mary Emily died at the age of 43. Elizabeth was 43 at the time. She shared the love of her husband for little children but they did not have any children together.
Like the rest of her family, Elizabeth, was an ardent Liberal, and took an active part in the work of the Reading Women’s Liberal Association. She played a considerable part in the public life of Reading, helping every good cause. The British Women’s Temperance Association also had her active support. She took a keen interest in the Guild of Help and the Free Church Girls’ Guild. She was particularly interested in foreign minions, and was a member of the central committee of the Baptist Zenana Missions. The zenana missions were outreach programmes established in British India with the aim of converting women to Christianity. Female missionaries were sent into the homes of Indian women who were secluded in ‘zenanas’ (private apartments for female family members that male visitors were not allowed to see and no female family member beyond the age of childhood was allowed out unguarded).
During her husband’s mayoralty in 1905-6 and 1906-7, she took a very active role as Mayoress and helped many good causes “with a grace and kindliness of heart that won the regard of all the townspeople of Reading” (Reading Standard, 13 October 1928).
Elizabeth died at 6pm on Tuesday 15th August 1911. She had been suffering from weak heart for some time. About a fortnight before she died her condition became alarming and in spite of good care from leading medical people in Reading, her condition did not improve. During her funeral Rev Fairbairn “thanked God that He spared her pain, and she sank to rest like a little child falling asleep. They could almost thank Him that there was no margin of inactive years, which would have been a great trial to her.”
Her death was widely mourned.
Funeral and Tributes
The funeral took place on Friday 18th August, the first part of the service being held at King’s Road Chapel. As with her husband’s funeral in 1928, their close friend Rev R.G. Fairbairn led the service. A large congregation assembled and there was a wealth of floral tributes.
Before the commencement of the service, the organist Mr W.A. Scruton, played “I know that my Redeemer liveth” and “O rest in the Lord” and at the close the Dead March in “Saul”. The service included the reading of Psalm XC and L Corinthians XV., 20-end. The hymns “The sands of time are sinking” and “Peace, perfect peace” were well rendered by the choir.
In a short address Rev. Fairbairn said their hearts were torn with sore grief, and they were under the shadow of a loss that seemed overwhelming.
The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. T. F. Whiting. of The Grove.
Elizabeth is buried in Reading Old and was joined by her husband’s daughter-in-law (Gertrude Jane, wife of his son Edward Russell) in 1912 and by her husband, Edward, in 1928. They are buried next to Edward’s first wife, Mary Emily (d. 1889).
Section 29, Row C, Plot 1