A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
The Scott family of Church Road, Preston
The Scott family lived at Preston for more than a century - from the 1820s until the death of Will Scott in 1930. The bread winners were farm workers. They lived most, if not all, of this time in Rose Cottage which was next door to and to the right of Bunyan’s Chapel as viewed from the road.
The Scotts originally lived in Hertford until Thomas Scott (1758 - 1812) and his wife Lydia moved to Peters Green, Kimpton. They not only owned their cottage there, but Thomas described himself as a yeoman in his will - a cut above a farm worker. However, his estate was eventually distributed between their nine children and became diluted. A younger son, James, an agricultural labourer, moved to Preston, probably soon after marrying local girl, Mary Ann Joyner, at Kings Walden in 1824. The couple had nine children and appear to have rented Rose Cottage which was to the right of Bunyan’s Chapel from Dinah Swain (see below. For more information see: Cottages of Church Road). The cottage had been earlier rented by Mary Ann’s father, William Joyner. In 1856, the house was purchased by Thomas Darton but by 1910 its ownership had again changed into the hands of RdV Pryor.
The cottage (far left) on Blacksmith/Church Lane was situated in front of the Scott’s home which it abutted. Their home faced Bunyan’s Chapel.
James and Mary Ann Scott’s children
James (64) died in 1862 and was buried on 8 September at St John’s Road, Hitchin where Mary Ann (70) was also laid to rest on 22 June 1876.
Mary Ann Scott born at Preston, baptised 19 February 1826 at Ippollitts. Married James Swain 28 September 1850 at St Mary’s Hitchin. They lived at Vine Cottage, Preston Green and later at Kiln Wood Cottage. Thomas Scott born at Preston, baptised 29 June 1828 at Kings Walden. News story: The insolvent debtor case of Thomas Scott, late of The New George, Drury Court, Strand, Middlesex, licensed victualler and now of Preston was heard at the County Court, Hertford. He had been advanced £100 to make necessary alterations and repairs, however he had stripped the house of all fixtures and fittings and decamped. He also took several barrels of beer. He was arrested at his mother’s house at Preston (Mary Scott, 61 of Blacksmiths Lane) on 24 March. The brewers accused him of fraud, showing in the balance sheet for example 10/- paid for servants when he had only one servant girl who was paid 1/6 or 2/-. He also had beer from the company costing £77 and worth £100, whereas he had only accounted for £85. The judge thought the brewers were guilty of ‘reckless speculation’ as the previous licensee had held the post for less than two months, but sent Thomas to prison until 10 June (30 May 1857) Charlotte Scott born at Preston, baptised 25 October 1829 Kings Walden. Married Thomas Cotton 8 May 1852 at St Mary’s, Hitchin John Scott born at Preston, baptised 6 November 1831 at Kings Walden. News story:Samuel Kirby, farmer of Preston (Castle Farm) was charged by John Scott (21) with refusing to pay him £1 3/- wages due. He was ordered to pay with costs. (9 October 1852) William Scott born at Preston, baptised 14 November 1834 at Hitchin. Married Emma Bushell 22 December 1877. (See below) Frederick Scott born at Preston, baptised 3 September 1843 at Kings Walden. Married Mary Ann Ward on 30 April 1864 at St Mary’s, Hitchin. Buried at St John’s Road, Hitchin 15 August 1864. George Scott born at Preston, baptised 25 March 1840 at Hitchin Amos Scott born at Preston, baptised 14 September 1842 at Hitchin. Buried at Hitchin 11 January 1843. Emma Martha Scott born at Preston, baptised 7 May 1848 at Hitchin. Buried at St John’s Road, Hitchin on 24 June 1863.
William and Emma Scott
William (right, at 93) and Emma continued to live in the same house facing Bunyan’s Chapel. William was a farm worker and Emma took in laundry. In the Preston religious survey of 1886, William declared that he and his household were Baptists. Remembering that William was forty-three when he married, it is hardly surprising that the couple had but two children, a daughter Mary Ellen (right) who was born towards the end of 1878 and Esther Susan, born April 1882 but died 17 March 1884. The family line continued through Mary Ellen’s son, Harold: William (28 November 1930), Emma (19 December 1924), Emma’s mother, Mary Bushell
(13 August 1906) and Mary Ellen (now Herron) (30 September 1953) were all buried in St Martins churchyard
Harold Scott’s Preston memories
I was born in 1906 in the village of Preston. I lived in a little cottage called Rose Cottage, which faced the side of the Bunyan Chapel. The cottage was of clapboard construction and had a barn attached to one side, with a bedroom built over the barn. My mother was Mary Ellen. She worked in the Hitchin Grammar School as the Matron while I was young and drove into Hitchin in a pony and trap. She was involved with the Bunyan chapel, possibly as an organist. Mary Ellen Scott later remarried Charles Herron and moved to Manchester. I had an aunt, Anne Marion. who married Fred Hookham of York Road. Fred was a Hitchin Pawnbroker and had a shop in Bucklersbury. My grandparents, William & Emma Scott, lived in the village. I also had an aunt and uncle in Stopsley. I remember the following things about life in the village when I was young: Collecting water from the village pump on the green, even after mains water was piped to the houses, because people were suspicious of piped water. Having to get milk from one of the local farms by walking across a field. Attending the village school, which used to be on the main road There were two Public Houses in the village: The Red Lion and The Chequers - the Chequers was a bit of a rough pub. Going with my mother to have tea with the village postmistresses, Misses Clara & Rosa Frost. The Walkdens ran a shop In Church Lane at a cottage next to the Chapel. Halsey's used to deliver groceries in the village. Mr Pryor used to walk round the village in a tweed jacket and plus-fours..Mr Ashton the village baker. An Army Artillery unit with despatch riders that camped in a field outside the village, laid Field Telegraph lines and carried out manoeuvres, probably in 1913/14. My mother, grandfather and grandmother were buried in the graveyard of St Martin's church in Preston. Another relative, Mary Bushell, (my great grandmother) was also buried in St. Martin's churchyard.
The photographic legacy of Preston left by Harold Scott
Harold often returned to Preston (which he left when aged ten) and took the following wonderful photographs of the village in the 1950s. I am grateful to his son, Graham for sending these and allowing them to be used.
These are superb, detailed photographs - and I was so grateful to be sent them. If ever you wonder how Preston looked say a century ago, study these in detail. What strikes me is the long, untended grass in every outdoors shot. Most unlike the carefully-mown verges in the village today. And The Green has a very different appearance - open, and not dominated by large trees. The old trees had been felled around this time.
Bunyan’s Chapel
Spindle Cottage, Hitchin Road
St Martins Church
The Red Lion
The corner of Church Road and Hitchin Road
The well at Preston Green
The interior of Bunyan’s Chapel