A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

This site has been created to give information about Preston in the nineteenth century. It contains more than

400 photographs including 83 of people who lived in Preston during this time. There are also 45 maps and

charts and 140 newspaper stories involving Preston people. The following are links to relevant web pages:

An in-depth history of Preston spread over three pages of 27 A4 pages is assembled at this link: Preston History.


The people of Preston of the C17 are described. Link: PoPC17 .


The history of Preston’s cottages is chronicled. Links: Cotts ; North side of Church Lane, Back Lane, The Old Forge and along Hill Farm Lane.


Mrs Maybrick’s 1953 Preston Scrapbook can be seen at this link: Scrapbook and Hitchin historian, Reginald Hine’s link with Preston is discussed.

















Home page

I have received much help and encouragement during the research for this web site for which I am very grateful. The following have supplied photographs (shown in red) and other material used on this site.


Liz Hunter, Betty Palmer, Jane Cole, Ann Tew, Chris Newell, Mary Cave-Brown,Christina Clews, Robert Ernest Freebody, Roz Welch, Penny Causer and Meta Reeves. My family and relations: Hazel L’Abraham, Rodney Wray, Phyllis and Cyril Vassall, Marion Snape, Maggie Whitby, Gillian Homes, Charlie and Bill Wray, Dorothy Littlefield, Eileen Green, Brian and Martin Wray, Jennifer Windebank,  Brian Gumm and Gordon Wray. Harry Hollingsworth. Family historians: Wendy Dinsdale, Peter Swain, Eric Peters, June Nicholson Glen Hickson and Wendy Carey. Nurses’ historian - Sue Light. Carol Casey (Burials Officer for North Hertfordshire Council). Hitchin Museum. Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies. Hertfordshire Mercury.   


There is an attempt to unify, describe and catalogue the Currell family who lived around Hitchin from

1700 - 1900 in the parishes of Willian, Aston, Baldock, Norton, Graveley and Hitchin.

Link: Currells around Hitchin   See also: Currell snippets

Wray family history

Currell family history

The Currells of Preston, Herts (from 1781-1901). Link: Currells.    Thomas Currell (bn 1831)

Fairey/Farey family history

The Faireys of Preston, Herts: Link: Fairey family    Link: Earlier Fairey history

There is an overview of my  family in Preston:  Link: My family in Preston - from 1751 until now. Various families are featured with trees and notes as follows:

Site map

 Ward family history -  Link: Ward family



Site Contents

and Acknowledgments

Breed/Barker family history - Link: Breed/Barker

Bradding/Bradden family history - Link: Bradding

Wray family history from 1700 - 1900. Link: Wray family history. My great grand-parents - Charles and Elizabeth Wray (1819 -1884); my grandparents - Alfred and Emily (nee Currell) Wray (1858 -1934); Arthur Wray (b 1883); Charlie Wray (b 1910); Charles Wray (b 1884); Carrie Pell (nee Wray) (b 1886); Alice Snelling (nee Wray) (b 1888); Flossie Sugden (nee Wray) (b1889); Ern Wray (b 1892); Bob Wray (b 1893); Nan Wray (b 1896); Ada Hitchman (nee Wray) (b 1898); Frank Wray (b 1899); Jack Wray (b 1901); Dick Wray (b 1903); my father - Sam Wray (b 1905); my mother - Grace Wray (nee Mills) (b 1912); Maggie Whitby (nee Wray) (b 1908). Ellis Wray - Luton shopkeeper (1877 - 1960)


My family at Preston

There are pages devoted to Preston families which feature photographs and family trees. If you have information and/or photographs about your family that you would like to be included, please contact me. The portal to this section is, ‘People of Preston’.The families featured so far are: Armstrong; Ashton; Peters, Scott and Swain.  Robert Hinde of Preston Castle: Link: Robert Hinde.  Stephen Swain; Link: Stephen Swain. The descendents of Charles Swain (bn 1818) Link: Charles Swain. The Seebohms of Poynders End; Link: Seebohm. The Fenwicks; Link: Fenwicks; The Pryor family; Link: Pryors. James Barrington-White. Link: JBW. Preston soldiers in World War I are listed. Link: Preston soldiers. Samuel Hall of the Red Lion: Link: Samuel Hall. Chalkley Whitbread Link: Whitbread. Simon Stevens Link: Stevens. Almina Countess of Carnarvon: Link: Almina. Rose Barker (Preston schoolmistress), Armigel Pryor and William (Bill) and Rose Stanley: Link: Preston people. Dick Middleditch. The Wallers - builders of Preston. Link: Wallers. The wills of Preston people are epitomised: Link: Wills. Tenants of Temple Dinsley are described: Thomas Hasley, MP, Link: T Halsey and John Weeks FRHS. Link J Weeks. Leonard and Eileen Newell: Link: Newell. R Dawson. Link: Dawson   Sam Soto Link: Soto. Preston villagers: 1929 to 1950 Link: 1929-50 .  Preston people and homes: 1952 - 1985. Link: 1952-85. The Fox twins connection to Preston is explored. A sad suicide in 1933. The poaching Fox Twins.  Cecil andf Maggie Jenkins.


The nearby manor of Stagenhoe is discussed: Stagenhoe and Offley Holes House and Offley Holes Farm


Preston was closely linked with an international opera star in the nineteenth century. Link: Emily Soldene. To learn of her connection with Preston, follow this link: Emily and Preston

Perhaps the best way of absorbing the flavour of life in the village is to read newspaper stories from the nineteenth century. There are notes about the need for privacy and the reports are grouped by the following headings: Robbery at Preston Hill; Arson and damage to property; Assault; Drunkenness; Family disputes; Farmers and dealers; Highway offences; Manslaughter, Poaching , Theft and Robbery, a fire at Parsonage Farm, Kings Walden;  Misc. reports.  Extracts from Herts Record Sessions


The information about education gives an insight into the lives of children in the village. See: History of Education;  School mistresses; Attendance and absenteeism; Literacy. Eugenics. There are  photographs from 1896 - 1922. My article in Family Tree magazine about Preston School 1873 -1901 is reproduced. Link: FTM. Preston School 1900 - 1939 is examined. Link: 1900 - 1939 The relationship between Princess Helena College and Preston is described. Link: PHC



There are notes concerning manorial rolls and the Temple Dinsley rolls from 1845 - 1922 with a searchable index of people mentioned therein. Links: The Manor; Temple D. manorial rolls; Names index


The militia lists of Hertfordshire are discussed with a catalogue of Preston men 1758-85. Link: Militia Lists


Harry Hollingsworth has kindly submitted his memories and photographs of the first time that Preston won the ‘Herts Best Kept Village’ competition. Link: Best Kept Village.

Life at Preston is described in the following pages: Preston and WW2; The Ponds of Preston; Preston’s wells; Agriculture and farm labourers; Straw plaiting; Crime; Mobility and movement; Morality,  The Preston pound, Preston allotments, Cricket; Football,  Benefit Clubs, The children of Preston contains details of almost 1,300 children who lived in the village in the 1800s; Marriages and Burials (which attempts to list those who married and died with a connection to Preston from 1800 -1901. The marriages include fathers’ names and witnesses where known. The burials give details of the date and place of burial). Marriages at St Martin from 1909 - 1985 are listed.


Preston’s farms are featured: Preston Hill Farm; Pond Farm: Castle Farm: Home Farm. Temple Farm


Religion at Preston is  discussed and there are pages about the Anglican churches,  Bunyan’s Chapel, Minsden Chapel, parts one and two and the Hitchin Back Street Meeting Place. A visual tour of the interior of St Martin in April 2009 is included Link: St Martins tour. For Parish magazine quotations 1900 - 1941 click: Parish News

There is a feature on Temple Dinsley and a page of 86 photos most dated 1913c and an article  about The Cottage/ The Dower House. Nina Freebody’s ‘History of Preston’. Nina’s life celebrated. Link: Nina Freebody


The cottages of Preston - how they were built. The history of cottages is discussed: Crunnells Green and School Lane; Preston Green. There are pages detailing Sir Edwin Lutyens’ legacy at Preston. Link: Lutyens.


The three public houses in Preston are featured using the articles written by Preston historian, Nina Freebody -The Red Lion and The Chequers and Horse and Groom. The  Buy-out of the Red Lion in 1983 is explained.

As there was no Preston parish in the nineteenth century, there is an explanation of how ‘Preston’ has been defined for this web site. Beating the parish boundaries is described. There is also a page explaining how Preston was administered and a copy of the 1811c Map and Award with a key to land owners and occupiers.

The earliest detailed map of the village is at Map 1800


To look at areas of Preston in more detail, the village has been divided into segments having photographs,

maps and notes: Introduction; Crunnells Green; Church Lane; The Wilderness; Back Lane; Holly Cottages,

Back Lane; Preston Green and the Trees of the Green; School Lane; Chequers Lane; Poynders End, Wain Wood, Sootfield Green, Hill End, Kiln Wood, Swedish Houses on Chequers Lane,  waste at Crunnells Green

and Spindle Cottage.


Visits to Preston in the 1890s, 1913 and 1970 are included. Link: Views. A deserted  village near Preston? Link: Welei. Family Tree’s article about Welei can be seen here: FTW


The story of how this web site evolved is told at this link: Web site. It includes an article in Family Tree magazine - April 2010 issue. Additions to the web site are at this link: What’s new.


Contact me with comments, information, photographs and questions. Register your family interests in Preston - to contact others who are also researching your ancestors.


Censuses of Preston. There are notes and transcriptions of the 1801, 1821 and 1886 Preston censuses. Each of the official censuses from 1841-1901 are analysed and transcribed: 1841; 1851; 1861 (with Nina Freebody’s accompanying article); 1871; 1881; 1891; 1901, 1911.  There is an alphabetical list of people for each census

for easy searching. The 1837 Preston Rate Book is also featured as is the 1807 Census.