A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

News stories

September 2018

George Reed (23) a groom of Preston was charged with stealing articles of wearing apparel to the value of £7 the property of John Freeman. Three months hard labour.

11 January 1878


For Sale: Valuable Freehold and Copyhold estates comprising a brick and slated Dwelling House, Blacksmith’s Shop, Outbuildings and several enclosures of old pasture containing about six acres at Preston Green - also several allotments of arable land containing about twelve acres and plot of building land in the centre of the village (sold by the proprietor)

20 June 1879


George Reeves of Preston fined 3/- and 7/- costs for damaging a fence by cutting a quantity of growing wood, the property of Mr Pigott on the 6 December

12 December 1880


Frank Brown (farmer of Preston) and William Marshall (labourer of Preston) were charged with cruelty to a horse on 23 December. The case was adjourned for a week to produce further evidence.

13 December 1882


George Carter (labourer of Preston) was fined 30/- or three weeks imprisonment for stealing two poles (value 6d) the property of Mr Sworder of Westmill, Hitchin on 3 Junes last.

1 December 1882


Frank Warren (baker of Preston) was charged with delivering bread otherwise than by weight to outdoor paupers receiving relief. It appeared that some of the loaves were six ounces short weight. Fined £2 and 14s 6d costs.

1 February 1884


John Mitchell was charged with blocking up the free passage of the highway with a horse and cart at Gosmore. Me Frederick Armstrong (farmer of Preston) proved that as he was driving home form Hitchin the prisoner had a horse and cart with a costermongers barrow behind. He was standing still and blocked up the road. He tried to pull the prisoner out but could not make anything of him. Prisoner said he was very tired and asleep. He had tried to get lodgings at Gosmore but could not and so lay down in the cart. Fined 1/- and costs amounting to 20s 6d or in default 14 days.

24 October 1884


Anniversary services were held on Sunday and Monday in connection with the Bunyan Chapel Sunday School, Preston and were numerously attended.

3 July 1885


DAVIS (Plaintiff) v KIRK (Defendant)

The plaintiff is a farmer at Preston and the defendant, a veterinary surgeon at Hitchin. The action was for £7 3s 8d - balance of money lent. The only dispute was as to a charge of £5 5s for professional services for the purchase of a horse in London. The defendant paid £1 18s into the Court.

Evidence was given by the defendant to the effect that on April 1 he went to Tattersalls and to the Elephant and Crown Repository and examined several horse for the plaintiff, one of which he bought.

The plaintiffs case was that Mr Kirk had no instructions from him but went to London with him merely as a friend.

The Judge was of the opinion that the claim of £5 5s must be wholly disallowed, Judgment was therefore given for the balance between the amount claimed and the sum paid into the Court.

12 September 1886



This was an action to recover £24 10s paid by Mr Thomas Harwood Darton of Preston who is now dead to the defendant. There was no dispute as to the payment of the money by Mr Darton, but the defendant alleged that he had repaid it. It seemed however that he took no receipts for the money - which he said he repaid by instalments.

Mt Shillitoe who appeared for the plaintiffs said no entry of any payments by the defendant had been discovered in the books of the deceased. The Judge said he was sorry he could not accept the defendant’s statement. He ordered that the money be paid in a fortnight.

12 September 1886


SALE of LAND at the request of the devises of the late Mr Thomas Gorham Pierson.

…a piece of accommodation arable land situate in Preston Hamlet let to Mr J Lewis.

26 November 1886



This action was for £1 17s 6d. The defendant it appeared let to the plaintiff from 21 April to 21 September 1886, the grass of two meadows attached to the Red Lion Inn, Preston. His Honour dismissed the action with costs.

14 January 1887


John Brammer, a drayman, was indicted for embezzling and stealing the sum of £4 4s 9d delivered to him for his employer, Mr Oliver Steed at Baldock. Prisoner pleaded not guilty.

John Howland, a publican of Preston, proved paying the sum named to the prisoner for beer and that Brammer gave a receipt. Mr Huggins, clerk to Mr Steed proved that the sum of money in question had never been accounted for.

PS Hammond said that when he apprehended the prisoner, he said he was very sorry and he should not have done it if he had not had a drink. Prisoner now pleaded that he had a hole in his pocket and had lost the money on his way home. The Judge said it was rather late in the day to plead a hole in his pocket.

The jury found him guilty.

Inspector Tripp said some years ago the prisoner was sent to prison for 14 days for stealing bread. The Judge said it was a bad case. Brammer had been in prison for six weeks and he would take of a month and give him five months.

11 February 1887


Thomas Fairy, a labourer of Preston, was charged with threatening to kill Frank Warren, a baker. The complainant said that on 7 May while delivering bread at Preston, the defendant who was half drunk used very bad language nd threatened to stab him. Christopher Collins gave corroborative evidence.

Fairy denied using threats and said the complainant had declare threat unless he paid for some bread that was owing he would ‘have something out of the house’. If the complainant had asked him civilly he would have paid him. Fairey was bound over in the sum of £5 to keep the peace for six months.

20 May 1887



…a well-attended meting of the creditors of Frank Brown, hay and straw dealer of Preston was held. He had total liabilities of £1,924 3s 11d and a deficiency of £1,739 6s 6d. He was in the witness box for nearly an hour.

28 November 1890



William Jeeves, landlord of the ‘Chequers’ public house at Preston, was charged with refusing to admit the police to his premises on 13 September 1891.

Ps Martin said…that he went over to Preston on Sunday with Ps Spriggs and kept observation on the ‘Chequers’ public house. He arrived there at half past five in the morning. Just before six he saw a young man go into the little yard in front of the door and come away again. Between half past six and seven he saw a nab come from the village and knock at the front door and then went down to the side gate and after being in a few minutes, he came out again. Some time after that, another man fetching water went into this side gate and others did the same up to half past nine. At two or three minutes to ten, a man named Jenkins walked straight into the front door and witness followed him directly. He found the door locked. He saw a young woman and he put his head in the window and called out ‘police’. Ps Spriggs went to the side gate and witness knocked with a stick so anyone could have heard him all over the village. He was about twelve minutes before he was let in when he saw Spriggs was in the house. The defendant pleaded that he was up in the garden and did not hear him knocking. He said the men who came in, came one for some garden stuff, one brought swill for the pigs and another to borrow a razor. He saw the landlord through the window immediately after Jenkins walked in. Jenkins straight walked in as if the door had been left undone and directly witness got up to the door, he found it locked. He saw a young woman cutting French beans and she threw down her knife and left the room.


The solicitor appearing for the defence: ‘They were not in uniform at the time. He was close by the side of the road when he saw Jenkins go in. There were three windows open on the ground floor. He beat the door with the stick produced and hoped he did not damage it. Could not say who let Spriggs in. There was no drink about and he saw no pots or signs of drink in the tap room. He thought it was no use looking over as he had had time to clear the house. He did not suggest that things were put away from the tap room as he saw in the room window and did not see anything put away. The persons he saw go in early in the morning went into the double side doors. Could not say whether pigs were kept there. By the Bench: I did not hear any bolts or locks when Jenkins went in, but I did when I was admitted by the daughter when the landlord was in the passage. The double gates where these people went in were part of the defendants licensed premises.

Ps Spriggs said he was in company with the last witness and could corroborate all he had said. When he went to the double gate, he found it was fastened. He peeped through and found two or three people running across the yard into a shed. Two of them were men. He shook the doors again and then he got up and looked over and saw the landlord’s daughter and a man standing close up against a brick wall. He called out that he was a police officer and it was no use for them to conceal themselves as he could see them. He told the daughter to go and let the other policeman in. The daughter went up the passage towards the the front door and the landlord came out at the side gates. The landlord said to the daughter, ‘why did you not let the policeman in?’. He saw no liquor about in any part of the house. They had plenty of opportunity of getting it away. He went upstairs but saw nothing about.

The solicitor representing the defendant: I went in the bedroom and couldn’t find anything. Could not say that the men I saw were two men and a boy attending to the cattle at the back. I saw no cattle. He reminded the Bench that the only charge against the defendant was that he refused to admit these policeman. There was no question about keeping open his home or selling liquor during prohibited hours. He should shoe that there was no offence of the landlord who had been at the ‘Chequers’ for twenty years with out any proceedings against him. He submitted that although the daughter may have refused, she was not acting with the authority of the father who was away in the garden and came when her father came to ask him. He quoted a case where the actions of a wife were not considered binding upon the landlord. Immediately the daughter brought her father up, they were at once admitted. He submitted that there was no refusal or if there was refusal, it was without the authority or knowledge of the landlord.

William Jeeves: After keeping the house for twenty years, this was his first appearance before the magistrates. His daughter came to him in the garden and told him there was someone who wanted to be admitted and he came and let them in. His daughter told him they were kept waiting five minutes. He heard no noise but immediately he was told it, he went and let them in. Jenkins was a relation of his and brought some wash for the pigs and had done so on a Sunday morning for ten years. He had no beer and the bar was not unlocked that morning at all. His daughter was in charge of the house that morning. He gave her no authority to refuse admission to the police and it was not to his knowledge that they were refused. He knew nothing of the men the witness Spriggs said he saw go away. He was gathering beans seventy or eighty yards away in the garden and could not hear the house even at the time and did not hear any noise. Ewington when he came in asked for some white turnips and a razor. My daughter did not say there were some policeman there, but some men there.

Sarah Jeeves, daughter of the landlord, said she was in the tap room about ten o’clock when she let Jenkins in and then fastened the door. He came to bring a pail of swill for the pigs. Afterwards she heard someone knocking and she told Jenkins to stand still and they waited a minutes or two and then she went and fetched her father from the garden. He came back and then they were let in after being kept waiting five minutes. She had not seem them through the window. There was none but Jenkins in the house when Spriggs came to the back. Other persons came to the door that morning, but were refused entry.

Ps Martin: I did not lay with my arms on the window blind and talk to two young men out of the window. One who came to the window had half an ounce of tobacco. I know you came to the house once, but I don’t know what you spoke about. I don’t know if you are known at Preston and don’t care (laughter).

George Jenkins was called and as he was subject to ma charge of being on licensed premises during prohibited hours, he was cautioned as to incriminating himself. He said he was the brother-in-law of Jeeves. He went to the ‘Chequers’ to take a pail of wash and help the landlord do his things. He was in the habit of doing this on a Sunday morning. Directly the landlord knew of it the police were admitted. He saw no men leaving the yard. He had not been there two minutes when Martin came. He had no drink in the house and saw none about. The landlord’s daughter said, ‘stand still’ - that was all that was said. Did not stop to help with things that morning, but could not say why.

The Chairman of the Bench said they had decided to convict in this case and taking into consideration it was the first time Jeeves had been before the Bench, they should inflict a small penalty of ten shillings. George Jenkins was also convicted but dismissed with a caution.

18 September 1891


William Scott, a labourer was charged with stealing two boards of the value of 6d from his employer, Mr John Dew, farmer of Preston on 8 December. Ordered to come up for judgment when called upon.

18 December 1891


George Turner, a labourer, was charged with cruelty to a horse at Preston on 11 April by working it when it was in a an unfit state and Frank Brown, his employer, was charged with causing it to be so worked. The Magistrates dismissed the case, but said the police were justified in bringing it up.

22 April 1892

ODELL v BROWN  The plaintiff is a smith at Hitchin and the defendant is a hay dealer at Preston. The claim is for £7 6s for work done. The defendant paid £2 10s 11d into the court, alleging that this was all that was owing for work done for himself - the balance being for work on behalf of Mr Keevil, a hay and straw dealer at Brixton, whose agent the defendant was some time ago. His Honour held that the defendant was liable for the whole.    10 May 1895

Re: PARISH COUNCILS ACT There was some discussion as to the transfer of of an outlying part of Ippollitts to the proposed civil parish of Preston. ..The Preston people would like the transfer but Ippollitts do not seem inclined to willingly give up any of their inhabitants. 6 July 1894

Ernest Brown was summoned for allowing four pigs to stray on the highway at Preston. Supt. Reynolds said that in consequence of swine fever in the neighbourhood and as he had observed pigs straying about, he put two constables on duty at Preston. The defendanr said the pigs were not tuned out on the highway but escaped from a field. He was fined eight shillings. 29 November 1895.

Alfred Brown, farmer of Preston, was fined 6d with 6s 6d costs for having two carts on the highway at Ippollitts without the owners name painted thereon.

4 September 1896

CANNON v BROWN The plaintiff is a wheelwright and carrier at Preston and the defendant is a dealer also living in the village. Mr Cannon sought to have returned to him a horse of his detained by the defendant in the alternative of a sum of £10. His Honour gave judgement for the plaintiff for £7 10/- less 10s paid in cash by the defendant,(the plaintiff returning in court the defendant’s cheque for 30s paid with the 10s by the defendant when the exchange was made) and return the cob at once to the defendant.

15 January 1897


Alfred Brown, farmer and dealer, was charged with allowing three cows and two calves to stray on the highway at Preston on 21 April. The Magistrates dismissed the case.

30 April 1897


James McGechan, gardener of Preston, was fined 1s with 6s costs for obstructing the free passage of the highway at Hitchin on 26 November by allowing his horse and cart to remain thereon for an unreasonable time, that is half an hour.

17 December 1899


On Monday evening an organ recital was given in St Marys Church, Hitchin on behalf of the Preston Building Fund by Mr F Gostelow FRCO organist of the parish church, Luton. There was a large congregation. The collection raised £10 1s 7s 1/4d 18 November 1896

Frederick William Redrup, innkeeper of Preston, was charged with being drunk on the highway at Gosmore on 20 February. He was concicted and fined 5 shillings and costs. 2 March 1900

Frederick Robinson was fined 2s 6d including costs for driving an unlighted vehicle on the highway at Hitchin in the nightime on 27 April. 10 May 1901

COOPER v REDRUP The sum of £4 3s, the cost of repairing a wagonette which was damaged in a collision with the vehicle of the defendant in Hitchin a long time ago. There was no question about liability, the only question being the amount of the compensation. The plaintiff lives in Hitchin and the defendant is a carpenter at Preston. Evidence that the repairs had been done was given by Mr Ralph E Sanders, coach-builder of Hitchin. Judgment was given for the amount claimed with costs. 14 November 1902.

Paynes Field near the village of Preston containing 15a 3r 25p was bought by Mr TF Harrison for £460. 9 January 1903

Frank Ernest Brown of Preston was summoned for riding an unlighted bicycle on the highway in the night-time at Kings Walden on 20 February. He said the night was so rough that he could not keep the lamp alight. Fined 2s 6d.       6 March 1903. e and John Summerfield of Hitchin were also convicted of the same offence at Hitchin on 9 April. He paid costs. 24 4 1903


Mr FA Wright came before the Council representing  the owner of a property in the case of an imbecile named Brown who is living in a cottage at Preston with his aunt. It is said that it would be unsafe to remove him; meantime the cottage is in a very neglected state. Mr Wright thought the matter had not been dealt with in a satisfactory way by the Board of Guardians. The case is made difficult by the fact that the Medical Officer of the district thinks that if the lunatic and his aunt are removed from the cottage this would probably be fatal for them, and it is, it would seem, impossible to repair and clean the premises while they remain there. 25 January 1905

Repairs to the public well at Preston were ordered, the cost to be borne by the parish 15 June 1906


Harry Cain, labourer of Preston was summoned by Charles Ralph of Offley Holes Farm for 15s damages for leaving his employment without giving proper notice, The  plaintiff, a farmer, said the defendant left on 26 June without giving the week’s notice required by the agreement between them. His leaving in the middle of the hay harvest was very inconvenient. It was ordered that the defendant pay 12s 6d damage and s costs. 6 July 1906.


Henry Swain, labourer of Preston was charged with stealing two spirit glasses of the value of 8d the property of George Freeman, inn-keeper of Pauls Walden on 7 October.  Elizabeth Arnold said that when the defendant who was her ‘young man’ came to see her on the Sunday night at her lodgings, he left thelasses there. Mrs Freeman had served the defendant with two glasses of liquor outside the public house on that night. Swain pleaded not guilty but offered no further defence. He was fined 10s including costs. Miss Arnold asked to be paid her expenses. The Chairman said she might think herself fortunate that she was not charged withreceiving stolen goods.

2 November 1906


Henry Kefford, dealer, was fined 10s including costs for using obscene language at Preston Fair on 31 October. 16 November 1906


William Sharp, carrier of Preston, was charged with leaving his horse and cart unattended on the highway at Hitchin and was discharged with a caution. 20 January 1907


Site map