A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
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The 1939 Register: “The Wartime Domesday Book”
2 November 2015 was an auspicious day for family and local historians. The 1939 Register, known colloquially as The Wartime Domesday Book, was released. The Register was a reaction by the British Government to the threat of war. Forty-one million people were listed by 65,000 enumerators. Their records showed the name, full date of birth, address, marital status and the specific occupation of the vast majority of the population. It was in effect an interim census. The so-called Hundred Years privacy rule means that unless an individual noted in the Register died after 1939, their details cannot be viewed if they were born after 1915. This means that in the example and the schedule below, if the record of a household has a note that the details of a member or members are officially ‘closed’, this refers to individual(s) who are aged twenty-four or under. The Register was used to issue National Identity cards, for rationing and, when WW2 ended, to set up the National Health Service. As a consequence, some details such as addresses were updated. Single women who married between the summer of 1939 and around 1945 also had their details altered. For example, in the piece below, my aunt Margaret (‘Maggie’) Wray’s name has been altered to Whitby after she married Ron Whitby in the latter part of 1939. Likewise, my mother’s name was also altered from Mills to Wray after her marriage to Dad in 1945. Below is a sample of the Register which shows the residents at Chequers Cottages, Preston including my father, Sam Wray, and his mother, Emily
The reason that folk are so stirred up by the release of the Register is that the 1921 census will probably not be released until 2022, the 1931 census was destroyed; there was no census in 1941 with Britain in the grip of war and the 1951 census will not be available for more than thirty-five years. Therefore, the Register is an important snapshot of who lived where at a time when there are as yet no census details, albeit it is basically a searchable data base like a national electoral register which includes occupations and full dates of birth. In the case of Preston, I have copies of several years of electoral registers. These include the records from 1930 and 1951. (The electoral registers for the mid-1930’s are at the British Library, not Hertfordshire Archives.) By checking these registers it is possible to say where most of the inhabitants of the village were living in 1939. As viewing fifteen households costs almost £55 - and there were more than seventy households at Preston in 1939 - it is far, far cheaper to drive to the National Archives (where the full details of the Register can be viewed for free!) than downloading the entire Register of the village now to discover the occupations of villagers. In the meantime, here is a summary of the people of Preston aged over twenty-four years in 1939 and their likely abodes:
WATSON WATSON ALLBON DALE DALE PETERS PETERS JEEVES JEEVES JEEVES PALMER PALMER WRAY WRAY WHITBY/WRAY ARMSTRONG ARMSTRONG NEWELL SMITH SMITH HAMMOND HAMMOND FOX FOX JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS CURRELL BLANCHARD BLANCHARD SUNDERLAND SUNDERLAND SUNDERLAND BROWN BROWN HEDLEY HEDLEY HINE WALLER WALLER MIDDLEDITCH MIDDLEDITCH MORRISS MORRISS HANDLEY/HOLTON MORRIS WEBB WEBB HEDLEY HEDLEY MILES DAVIS NASH NASH WARDELL PRYOR PETERS CANNON CANNON WORTHINGTON WORTHINGTON WORTHINGTON WORTHINGTON HODGES CARR PETERS PETERS PETERS DEWAR/MULLINEY MOORE/TYLER CHALKLEY CHALKLEY SMITH AYRES WHITE WHITE TOMLIN TOMLIN BIRKMAN AYRES HUTCHINS HUTCHINS BERRY BERRY PETERS BUNYAN CURRELL CURRELL PERRY DOBBS DOBBS JENKINS JENKINS JENKINS CARR GARNER GARNER PETERS PETERS PETERS SHARP SHARP PETERS WHITING WHITING WHITING GRICE CROOK CROOK BAIRD BAIRD DARTON DARTON DARTON DARTON WHITE CARR CARR SEEBOHM PATERNOSTER COOPER/BAKER ANTELL/BESLEY POWLEY SARGENT SARGENT PEACHMENT GARNER GARNER GARNER LAMBERT LAMBERT BURCH/WILLIAMS KIMBER GILHAM/KIMBER FEW NESBITT BROWN BISHOP FROST ANDREWS ANDREWS CRAWLEY MARLOW/CRAWLEY SHARP SHARP GARNER GARNER WOODHAMS WOODHAMS JACKSON JACKSON HAMMOND HAMMOND HAMMOND WALKER WALKER WALKER WALKER STEVENS LONGLEY LONGLEY PETERS PETERS PALMER PALMER HALL CRAWLEY CRAWLEY RICHARDS HARPER HARPER HARPER HARPER/NEWMAN MAYBRICK MAYBRICK PRAIN WILTON BEAUMMONT WOOLDRIDGE LUCKY FRUNGHAM PARK NEWT PARKS/JONES CARTER
Sydney W Doris K Lizzie Frank T Gladys Thomas Annie M Amos George Sarah Arthur Lizzie Emily Sam Margaret Henry J Gertrude K Leonard T Leonard C Ada L Katie Herbert W John Thomas Lucy J Herbert Phyllis Frank Maggie Willie Ernest Lizzie Richard Violet Frank Frederick O Eva Constance Frank T Lucy K Edward M John B Phyllis R Thomas E Alice R Harry Bertram G Phyllis J Philip D Ethel M Owen A Ellen W Rosie V Michael O Ephraim R Elizabeth E James E Martha L William K Evelyn M George W Bertha E Mary Ralston de Vins Annie C Ernest F Florence M Harry Margaret E Rose M I Allan Jeanette I Joan Leonard C William J Florence E Josephine J Irene May William A Harriet Emma Rosa M Arthur W Mary L Harold Nora M Henry Arthur Reginald C T Eva C B Arthur J Kate George H Ellen Arthur Annie Kathleen A Arthur Agnes D Minnie Arthur Horace Robert E George W Nellie Hubert T Eliza James A Percy J Lucy J L Nora E Frederick G Francis A Thomas F Jack Harold R Alice S William Jennie William A Emily Charles E Gladys Gladys Robert E Joan Marjorie Ellen Edith M Dorothy M Lesley W J Stanley E Lily Jeanette A John Thomas Daisy William A Reginald G Beatrice M Olwen G Thomas Minnie May C A Emily E Hannah M Lilian Clara S Frederick W Daisy M George Lilian M Herbert Emily Sydney John Ivy C William J Mary John Clara S Ernest W Evelyn J Pamela Frederick Alice Violet A William F Percy Albert B T Caroline Walter C Philadelphia C Alice M Arthur J Samuel Robert Louisa Cuthbert R Frank Narid Edward A Doris Frederick H Clarice Vyvyen A Cynthia M Marjorie Alison Elizabeth A Margaret E Helen Alison
1898 1899 1863 1907 1906 1853 1898 1872 1900 1874 1869 1865 1863 1906 1910 1883 1880 1911 1891 1890 1911 1913 1861 1874 1879 1875 1905 1911 1913 1863 1875 1908 1910 1880 1894 1894 1879 1878 1911 1885 1895 1898 1892 1882 1907 1907 1896 1903 1902 1908 1913 1934 1880 1886 1872 1874 1860 1881 1883 1879 1856 1863 1881 1879 1879 1880 1875 1910 1872 1893 1915 1871 1904 1905 1912 1908 1900 1884 1866 1876 1883 1883 1911 1911 1913 1866 1882 1907 1881 1877 1870 1879 1895 1894 1914 1890 1893 1872 1902 1912 1913 1892 1894 1870 1876 1912 1897 1897 1902 1908 1905 1928 1913 1882 1885 1901 1906 1900 1906 1902 1900 1891 1913 1915 1879 1887 1900 1908 1903 1909 1908 1888 1889 1886 1915 1896 1899 1901 1883 1891 1905 1912 1860 1906 1863 1888 1897 1905 1915 1874 1874 1900 1903 1911 1913 1867 1871 1886 1893 1931 1884 1885 1910 1913 1914 1871 1876 1896 1896 1891 1891 1869 1870 1869 1916 1899 1899 1937 1922 1903 1875 1895 1903 1890 1908 1890 1903 1903 1905 1917 1930
Preston House, 1 Chequers Cottages, Chequers Lane 2 Chequers Cottages 3 Chequers Cottages 4 Chequers Cottages 5 Chequers Cottages Elm Cottage, Chequers Lane 13 Council Cottages, Chequers Lane 14 Council Cottages New Bungalow, Chequers Lane Castle Farm 17 Chequers Lane Rose Cottage The Wilderness Pond Farm 1 Holly Cottages, Back Lane Greenfields, Back Lane Keepers Cottage, Kings Walden Road Ye Olde Bakerie, Church Road St Martins Place, Church Road Red Lion inn Crunnells Green Laburnum Lodge The Laburnums Fig Tree Cottage Vine Cottage Crunnells Green 3 Crunnells Green Holly Cottages 6 Holly Cottages 4 Holly Cottages 2 Holly Cottages Hitchwood Cottages Hitchwood Cottages Hitchwood Cottages Minsden Dairy Kiln Wood Cottage Crunnells Green No 1 School Bungalow Poynders End The Garage, Poynders End Poynders End Farm The Lodge 1, Temple Dinsley The Lodge 2, Temple Dinsley Old Post Office, (aka Spindle Cottage) The Chequers Inn 12 Council Cottages 11 Council Houses, Chequers Lane 10 Council Houses, Chequers Lane 9 Council Cottages 7 Council Cottages, Chequers Lane 6 Chequers Lane 5 Council Cottages, Chequers Lane Chequers Lane 4 Council Cottages, Chequers Lane 5 Council Cottages, Chequers Lane Wain Wood Cottage Preston Hill Farm Princess Helena College
Sub-branch manager, insurance (Flying Officer WW1) Police constable Ag lab retired Jobbing gardener General farm labourer Roadman General farm labourer Capstain lathe operator (aircraft) Gardener Sub postmistress Agricultural tractor driver Woodman and farm lbr Railway porter Retired coach builder Pigman Agricultural estate labourer Domestic worker Leather dresser Horseman General farm labourer General manager - Manufacturing Carpenter Chauffeur and tractor driver, ARP  AFS Schoolmaster Bricklayer ARP Warden Gamekeeper Master baker Retired grocer and Post Office worker Licensee Builder/foreman retired Housekeeper Self-emplyd bricklayer Old age pensioner Land surveyor retired Housekeeper Farmer retired ARP S/E haulage contractor ARP Shopkeeper Milk delivery motor and Special Constable Cook Parlour maid House maid School teacher LCC Chauffeur/handy man School cleaner Farm foreman Dairy maid Joiner Chauffeur Domestic worker Domestic worker Water engineer Domestic duties Domestic duties Domestic duties Retired Gardener Gardener Woodman Horseman
Head mistress School teacher Bursar/secretary School teacher House keeper School matron School matron Cook Cook Student
SURNAME FORENAME Yr Brn ADDRESS OCCUPATION