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 often 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.
I have added occasional explanatory comments to the news reports in blue type.
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.
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.