A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
My greatx2 grandparents: George and Mary Cox
George and Mary lived for most of their married life in the neighbouring parishes of Kimpton and Wheathampstead, between Luton and Hitchin. They moved into Hitchin in the early 1840s. After George’s early death, Mary stayed in Hitchin.
George was baptised at Cottered in 1798 and Mary at North Mimms, Herts in 1798. A copy of their son,William’s, birth certificate shows Mary’s maiden name as Barford. I believe this is a transcription error. There were only two Mary Barfords baptised in Hertfordshire during the twenty years between 1790 and 1810: at Offley (1804) and Broxbourne (1806). In the 1851 and 1861 censuses, Mary gave her birthplaces as North Mimms (see below) and Barnet, so the records of the baptism of Mary Barker at North Mimms and the marriage of Mary Barker to George Cox probably have the correct spelling of her surname. Curiously there are discrepancies when Mary gave her age to census enumerators. In 1841, she is recorded as thirty years old - which means she was born between 1806 and 1811 as the ages were rounded down to the nearest five years for this census. Then, in 1851 she gave her age as forty-six, (ie born 1805/05); 1861, sixty-nine (ie born 1792/93) and when she was buried in November 1867, she was said to be sixty-six (ie born in 1800/01). From these details ,there was a window of twenty years during which she could have been born. She was officially baptised in July 1798. (Please note that several of the records mentioned here are shown on the page which outlines the lives of their son, William Cox)
William’s birth certificate
George and Mary’s baptism records
George and Mary’s marriage record at Kimpton, Herts
St Peter and St Paul, Kimpton
After their marriage, George and Mary settled at Kimpton, as shown by the baptism records of their first five children and George worked as a labourer.(James’ baptism entry is shown below). When he died, George was further described as a farm labourer.
Then, between 1883 and 1838, the family moved a short distance over the parish border and were living at Gustard Wood Common, Wheathampstead in 1838.
When the 1841 census was taken, Mary and some children of her children (but minus George) were still living at Gustard Wood. Mary was brought before the magistrates in May of that year:
Meanwhile, George, when he next appeared in news reports, was living in the area around Kimpton in March 1842 and again in October of that year.
(Note: Possible reasons for the pair breaking hedges include collecting firewood or even catching small birds for food.) George died on 12 April 1843 when he was living at Back Street (now Queen Street) in the poorer part of Hitchin. The cause of death was heart disease.
In 1851, Mary was working as a general servant in the home of the widower and whitesmith, Samuel Prudden at Cock Street, Hitchin. She gave her birthplace as North Mimms which confirmed that we have located the correct baptism details. William was lodging with a family in Lyles Row off Back Lane.
When Mary died in 1867, she was impoverished and an inmate of Hitchin Workhouse.