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 following “core” families were in Preston. They comprised 33 % of the village’s
These were the most popular Christian names:
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.
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.
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
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