1) By-names are among the earliest examples of ‘collier’ and it was widely distributed by the thirteenth century.
1225 Walter carbonarius, Goodmanham
1297 Geppe le Colier, Hipperholme
1317 ‘Matthew of Hyngindeheton, colier’, Sandal
1379 Thomas Colyere, Thorpe Salvin. These are ambiguous and probably referred to charcoal-burners not coal-miners: the Roman tilery in Grimescar Wood in Fixby was discovered in 1590 by Colyers … framynge a pitt to burn charcoales and the Colyers dwellinge in Ampleford in 1586 were also burning charcoal: they had a close called Collyer Carr in ther possession. In the following example the colliers were certainly coal-miners: 1541 the occupation of the colle myne … by the collyers, Horton. The term ‘wood collier’ had come into use by the sixteenth century, a possible result of the growing importance of coal-mining, and it made the distinction clear: 1577 Edward Hirste of Smithie Place, wood collier, Honley. In the Sheffield register this word can be contrasted with ground collier, presumably for a miner working underground: 1711 John Green, Ground-Collier
1720 Robert Moorhouse, wood collier. The OED has ‘charcoal colliers’ in Althorp in 1636 but the first recorded use there of ‘charcoal-burner’ is in a travel book written by William Spalding in 1841, since which time it has been widely employed by other writers. It occurs much earlier in the North Riding: 1615 Lambert Belfeild of Kyrby Mooresyd charcoal burner, Brandsby.The context usually makes the occupation of the 'collier' clear. The following extract refers to charcoal burnt in the Esholt ironworks: 1568 The dusson ys 12 seme or 12 quarter alle one mesuer so that 3 colyeres wyll burne 12 score dousson colle in the yere, Esholt.
2) One of the ships engaged in the coal-trade, which principally had Newcastle and other places in the north-east as their home port.
1693 the fleete of Collyers lying then at Newcastle.