The census was taken on 2 April. There were 424 residents in Preston - 212 males and 212 females. They included 75 couples and 17 widows or widowers. They occupied 76 cottages, an average of 4.8 inhabitants in each home. Temple Dinsley, its stables and ‘The Cottage’ as well as seven farms also housed families. Four houses in the village were unoccupied.The ‘core’ families of Preston in 1861 were:
The following were the most popular Christian names in the village:
Age of Preston’s inhabitants:
One hundred and eighty of the villagers (almost half) were aged under 20. The youngest was two-month-old William George Boston and the oldest was Mary Palmer, 84. When she died in 1876 she was said to be aged 94
It was noted that Elizabeth Stratton was presiding over a plaiting school. A school mistress is recorded for the first time - the 20-year-old Susannah Hayden from Cambridgeshire who was lodging with Daniel and Margaret Smith at Preston Green Post Office. Isabella Breed (70 ) was receiving parish relief and there were five paupers mentioned: Sarah Jenkins (71), Thomas Boston (73), James Brown (71), William Farr (70) and Mary Palmer (84).The oldest plaiter was Mary Scott (65) and the youngest was my four-year-old great grand aunt, Lizzie Fairey. No male plaiters were counted
They comprised 33 % of the village’s population::
Of the 368 surviving villagers from 1861, 205 remained in he village (58%). Sixty-nine moved locally within a five-mile radius of Preston. Eleven relocated elsewhere in Hertfordshire and 27 moved out of the county. Eleven villagers moved to Hitchin and eleven migrated to London. Employment on the railway, which first passed through Hitchin in 1850, enticed Charles Mayes (whose family lived at Back Lane, Preston) to move to Harpenden, Herts where he was a railway plate layer.