The news stories featuring Preston people found on this site are historical prime sources and are in the public domain. Most of them feature mundane and sometimes unsavoury aspects of village life: poaching, drunkenness, assault and even manslaughter. They have been included because they give a compelling insight into life in Preston in the nineteenth century. If we did not read three references to the Temple Clock above the stables at Temple Dinsley in the account of the notorious Preston Hill robbery case, how else would we know the way in which the clock regulated villagers’ lives? From witness statements, we know that the clock could be seen from Preston Green and was heard at the bottom of Preston Hill. Its clock face and chimes were therefore an essential part of the sights and sounds of Preston. A different news report even describes how the clock was destroyed by fire in 1888. Unless we read these news stories, this aspect of Preston history might be lost.
To reveal or not to reveal?
But how does one respond to learning sordid or detrimental details of one’s family - and does one want others to know? For example, there was a family who lived in Preston for more than 150 years, whose ancestor left a will in 1737. In it he stated that his son was “an idiot”. Should this fact be broadcast? What responsibility comes with this knowledge? My view is that all information about one’s family - pleasant and squalid - helps us to understand our heritage. Thus, when I read of the appalling behaviour of my great grandfather who twice uncaringly passed a dying man at the bottom of Preston Hill - and learn of his flimsy excuse - I can perceive echoes of this attitude in other family members. I have no qualms about others knowing what occurred.Nevertheless, at first I elected to conceal the identities of miscreants. However, after receiving e-mails on the subject, I have decided to include their names as they appeared in the press - with one exception.
I have added occasional explanatory comments to the news reports.It may be helpful to know that often when a fine was imposed on offenders during the nineteenth century, there was an alternative punishment of imprisonment if the guilty person could not or would not pay the fine. These articles are reproduced by kind permission of the Hertfordshire Mercury.