A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

History of Preston’s Cottages - Introduction

Given the existence of records, an optimistic ‘give’, it is possible to trace details of homes through history.


The relevant records for Preston are those for manors, the wills of local folk, indentures, early censuses and maps together with awards which are like snapshots of who lived where at a specific time.


In the case of the manor of (Temple) Dinsley, these are the surviving manorial records:


                          1641 - 1652: a full record of court hearings

                          A complete summary of fines for property transactions in 1664

                          A precis of property transactions between 1664 and 1718

                          A complete summary of fines for property transactions in 1715   

                          1677 - 1732: a full record of court hearings

                          A fragmented summary of fines for transactions between 1719 and 1782 - there is a

                                 twenty-eight-year gap between 1732 and 1760.

                          An incomplete summary of fees for property in 1761

                          Complete records of court hearings from 1782 to 1922


Thus, over 281 years, there is a complete record except for seventy-seven years. Many of the missing years may be completed from summaries and later court notes that refer back to properties changing hands during the lost periods. Additionally, copies of individual manorial records are kept loosely at Hertfordhire Archives and Hitchin Museum.


The significance of these records is that specific cottages and pieces of land were assigned a set annual rent which was payable to the Lord of the Manor. That fee varied from property to property but, in those days of no inflation, the rent did not change over centuries. Thus, if the rent on a property was 18/- in 1664, the rent was still 18/- in 1922. (Occasionally, a property would be split into parts and each part carried a fee, the sum of which was the same as the fee of the original property.) This makes tracing the history of home-ownership at Preston feasable.


The same point is made in The Common Stream by Rowland Parker, which is a fascinating historical study of the Cambridgeshire village of Foxton. In it he explains how the history of individual houses can be examined. If the tithe maps and awards of the nineteenth century are used as a starting point, it is possible to work back using manorial records. He notes that the researcher is helped as the rents of homes ‘remained unchanged for centuries’.


In the case of Preston, there are two historical maps that show each home in detail and have an accompanying ‘Award’ which notes owners and occupiers: a) 1811 - 1816, with an Award and also a matching valuation in 1825 and b) the Tithe Map and Award of 1844.


The manorial records sometimes mention the tenants in properties at a given time, and these may often be married with the census details and the notes on the map awards so that the cottages in the manorial records may be identified.



An example of tracing the history of cottages at Preston

This is an extract from the Temple Dinsley manorial court record dated 6 December 1797. It notes the death and will of Daniel Joyner and two of his bequests:

Thus, Daniel Joyner left a house at Preston Green to Elizabeth English, wife of John, rent 6d and another to Sarah Andrew, wife of James, rent 6d.


Next are the Map of Preston Green 1811 - 1816 and the Award:

Red Lion

So, the Andrew family inherited what is known today as Laburnum Lodge and the English’ were bequeathed the adjoining house. These still stand today, near the Red Lion:



Now that we have identified the cottages, and know that each of their annual rents was 6d, we can work back through the manorial records to see who owned them.


These cottages were the property of the Joyner family throughout the eighteenth century and were referred to as ‘two tenements and orchard at Preston’ on 13 October 1773. They had been combined in the ‘Survey of Temple Dinsley rents 1715’, when their rent was 1/- and they were owned by John Joyner and Daniel Joyner before him.



There is no record of these properties in the 1664 Survey of the Manor of Temple Dinsley, so it may be inferred that  these homes were built after that time, possibly by Daniel Joyner. However, it is recorded that there is a spine beam in Laburnum Lodge dated 1653.



The following information is based on my interpretation of all these records.

I do not claim infallibility during this exercise. It is appropriate that I write this on the day that Einstein’s theory of light has been debunked!


Here are two significant results that illustrate how this exercise can provide interesting details:

Taking the Swain family back another generation?

There is an article about the Swains of Preston at this link: Early Swains. It begins with Edward Swain who died in 1752. There has been a considerable debate among Swain watchers about the identity of Edward’s father. This may be settled as a result of this examination of manorial records.


The first mention of Edward Swain in manorial records is in 1691:

So, Edward purchased a one-acre field called Todds before 18 June 1691 from John Godfrey. This indicates an association with Preston from around that time. (He bought his home at what is known today as the Red Lion between 1701 and 1704) Edward was to bequeath this field to his son, John. Its location known: Link: Todds


However, another Swain appears in the manorial record, Stephen Swain. The following holding of property is noted from the ‘Survey of Temple Dinsley Rents 1715’:



A relationship between Stephen and Edward is confirmed by a note of ‘Rentals from 1761’:

On the basis of this, were Stephen and Edward Swain related. Was Stephen, Edward’s father?


There is a record of an Edwardus Swaine, son of Stephanus and Maria, being baptised at Stevenage on

29 August 1669. (Stevenage is around three miles from Preston.) If this was the Stephen mentioned in the Dinsley records, he would have been about 71 in 1715.


Probably the best way to confirm this is to obtain Stephen’s will. But a brief search does not indicate it exists. Perhaps a more fruitful search can be made when next at Hertfordshire Archives.

The antiquity of the Red Lion, Preston

The article about the Red Lion which is featured on this web site states, ‘The history of the two cottages which now form the Red Lion can be traced back at least to the beginning of the 18th century. The Manor Court Rolls of Temple Dinsley record a series of transactions during the century, for in 1710 William King acquired the larger house from Richard Deamer.’

From my research, I believe this to be incorrect and that the Red Lion is considerably older.

The property trail begins with the Manorial Court of Temple Dinsley dated 25 April 1811. The record notes a sale of property from Stephen Swain to Joseph Saunderson, thus:

This clearly relates to the sale of the Red Lion with its three acres of land that stretched around to Back Lane. The rent for this property was 18/-. In the Manorial Records, there is no other property with a rent of 18/- - it is unique. Moreover, when  transactions about this property are recorded, there can be no doubt that they are referring to the same piece, as will be seen.


The ‘Survey of Temple Dinsley Rents 1715’ shows this item :


Note that the rent is 18/-, but the previous owner was not William King (as stated in the article) but Leonard King.


There was a transaction involving Edward Swain and William King in 1710 - but note the wording:


The correct transaction, however, took place in 1704 between Edward and Leonard King:

Now, one can trace back the history of the Red Lion still further. The ‘Survey of the Manor of Temple Dinsley’ dated 1664’ recorded this property with a rent of 18/-:

The chain of transaction between John Riches and Leonard King is clear:

The extract noted above is dated 20 October 1673. It refers to the same property held by John Riches and in the right margin it adds, ‘now Ed(ward) Swain’s’. John Riches was taxed for two hearths in 1662.


This means that the larger of the two cottages that comprise the Red Lion was built before 1664 - about fifty years earlier than previously thought.

Summary of Temple Dinsley Manorial records re: Preston 1664 - 1788

A survey of the Manor of Temple Dinsley - 21 April 1664

At Preston

 1)  Thomas Browne – a house on Preston Green and orchard. Rent: £1 7s 4d (previously held by Dennis            Browne  until 15 April 1663)

 2)  Edward King – two tenements and an orchard. Rent: 6/-

 3)  Henry Gadlinstock – one tenement in Preston and orchard. Rent: 7/- (Previously held by William Clark

           until 15 April 1663)

 4)  John Ritches – one tenement and orchard with three acres of pasture. Rent: 18/-

 5)  David Clements – one tenement. Rent: 1/8d

 6)  George Andrews – one tenement. Rent: 1/8d

 7)  Richard Whiteley – one tenement and orchard. Rent: 4d

 8)  Samuel Carter – part of one barn. Rent: 4d

 9)  John Carrington – one tenement. Rent 4d

10)  John Farr – one tenement and orchard and three acres. Rent: 1/-

11)  Widow Bowse – two tenements. Rent: 4/-

12)  Widow Hurst – two tenements, two orchards – no rent - and six acres: Rent: 3/8d

13)  John Godfrey – one messuage, an orchard and forty acres of wood pasture and arable.. Rent: 15/-

14)  Widow Browne – three acres and an orchard. Rent 1/-


Freeholders who paid rent


15) Widow Simson – one house and orchard. Rent 1/-

16) John Ritches - two tenements and orchard. Rent 1p





































































































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£1  2s   1d

      1s    8d

    14s  10d


      1s    0d



      6s    0d

      8s    0d

£1  1s    0d

      4s    6d

      1s    6d

      7s    2d

      3s    7d

      7s    0d

    18s    0d

      2s    4d


      1s    8d


      3s    0d

      1s    0d

      1s    4d

      1s    0d




      1s    8d  

Sir James Read                                                                  

Thomas Papworth, Gent                                          

...and 4 acres and pightley bought of Mr Rayner          

Mr Bell now Hanscombe                                           

...and a tenement                                                                  

John Gotheridge (on the hill), previously Bell            

Edward Swain, previously John Godfrey                              

John Burr, previously John Bigg                                         

William Joyner, previously John Heath                       

....and for his five acres                                                

Mary Browne, widow                                            

John Austin, previously Bowstred                              

Widow Browne, previously Bowstred

John Hobbs, previously Godfrey                            

John Gotheridge, previously Godfrey                          

Cornelius Oakley                                                        

Edward Swain, previously Leonard King                    

William King, previously Leonard King                         

Edward Brooks previously Cresy                                        

Thos Wells previously Draper                                    

John Heath previously Carrington                                      

John Bowstred                                                              

George Bowstred, previously widow Bowstred               

Alice Joyner previously Richard Heath                           

John Joyner previously Daniel Joyner                            

Stephen Swain previously Widow Heath                               

More Stephen Swain                                                            

Mary Sutton previously Richard Dearmer                             

Leonard Ramsey previously John Ramsey

To Thomas Crawley a house and orchard at Preston Green from father Thomas Crawley

          £2 2/- (30 May 1766)

To Sarah Field a house and orchard at Cranwell Green from relative (?) William Barker ? (3 Feb 1768)

To  ? Newman, house, barn, stable and 1 acre of pasture and orchard from late father, John Newman

       (24 May 1769)

To Edward Single from Sarah Field as above £2 (1 Nov 1770)

To Daniel Joyner a tenement at Preston Green on expiration of 40 years (1 Nov 1770) £3

To Joseph Pedder a tenement at Cranwell Green after death of father (25 Oct 1771) £5 5/-

To Stephen Swain a messuage and three closes of three acres from his father (25 Oct 1771) £8

To James Joyner two tenements and orchard at Preston from his father, Daniel Joyner (13 Oct 1773) £7

To John Turner a messuage, barn, etc and three closes of land at Preston, late John Morgans

          (6 Nov 1778)  £9 9/-

To Joseph Pedder house, barn and orchard at Preston Green from Thomas Crawley (6 Nov 1778) £3 10/-

To John Brown a house at Preston Green from mother Ann Brown (6 Nov 1778) 3 3/-

To Joseph Pedder a messuage at Preston Green (22 Oct 1788) £3 10/-




To John Bowstead for a cottage at Preston (8 June 1715)

To Robert Brown, a messuage on Preston Green, on death of mother Mary Brown

          (10 July 1719)  £4 18/-

To William and Mary Oakley, a messuage on Preston Green, from Cornelius Oakley and others

          (10 July 1719)  £2 10/-

To Dennis Brown, a cottage and 6 poles of land on Preston Green from mother Mary Brown

          (10 July 1719) £2

To Nathaniel Hobbs for messuage and land at Preston, on death of father, John Hobbs (3 July 1719) £54        

To John Joyner a messuage and three acres at Preston on death of sister Alice Finch (2 October 1723) £9

To Benjamin Gootheridge a messuage and three acres from John Joyner (2 October 1723) £6 15/-

To William Archer a cottage at Preston from Thomas Wells (2 October 1723) £2 5/-

To John Elmes a cottage in Preston from John Bowstred (2 October 1723) £2 5/-

To Henry Pedder a tenement and appts at Cranwell Green from William Archer (19 July 1725) £2 5/-

To Thomas Field a cottage at Cranwells Green from Leonard Ramsey (13 April 1727) £3

To Henry Wheeler two cottages at Preston in will of dec’d father in law John Austin (13 April 1727) £4

To Daniel Joyner a Cottage at Preston Green from will of John Elms dec’d (9 April 1729) £3

To Anne Browne a cottage and 6 poles adjoining at Preston from dec’d husband Dennis Browne

          (15 April 1730)  £2  (1761 Rental – this had passed to Peter Poulter, previously Ann Brown’s 20 years.)

To Daniel Morgan a messuage and three acres from Benjamin Goothridge (15 April 1730)

To Edward Swain one acre called Todd’s Close at Preston on exprtn of 40 years (20 Oct 1731) £2

To John and Ann Coe a cottage on Preston Green from Henry Wheeler (1732) £4 13/-



(Gap from 1732 to 1760 which is partially completed by copies of manorial roll)



To  Henry Godlinstock, a messuage in Preston surrendered by William Clark (15 April 1663) Fine £1

To Thomas Browne a messuage on Preston Green called the ‘Homehouse’ from Dennis Browne.

          (15 April 1663) Fine £5

To Hester Smith (Godlinstock) a messuage in Preston from Henry Godlinstock (20 March 1664) £1 10/-

To William Smith a messuage in Preston from Hester Smith (20 March 1664) £1 10/-

To Thomas Browne and wife Elizabeth, from himself Thomas Browne, a messuage and part of yard

          in Preston. (11 Jan 1665) £1

To John Bowstred, a messuage at Preston inherited after death of mother, Frances Bowstred.

          (11 Jan 1665) 18/-

To Robert King, one messuage; cottage and parcel of an orchard at Preston Green descended from

          brother Edward King. (11 Jan 1665) (now held by William Joyner) £4 10/-

To John Izard, a messuage and three acres of land and pasture at Preston from John Farr

          (11 Jan 1665) £4 5/-

To John Andrew, a messuage at Preston descended from his father John Andrew (11 Jan 1665) £1


To Thomas Oakley and wife Alice, a messuage on Preston Green from William Smith

          (8 Oct 1670) £1 + £2

To John Clifford and wife Mary, a messuage on Preston Green from Richard Wheatley.

         (1 Feb 1670)  £1 10/-

To John Ritches and son John Ritches  a messuage and a close of three acres in Preston

          descended from his father John Ritches. 20 Oct 1673) (now held by Edward Swain). £3 15/-

To Robert Browne and wife Catharine, two tenements and 16 poles in Preston from Thomas Browne

          (20 Oct 1673) £2

To Michael and Henry Izard, a cottage and three acres in Preston from John Izard (25 June 1674) £9

To Richard Dearmer, message and orchard at Preston Green, from John Clifford (26 April 1677) £1

To John Godfrey, six acres at Preston from William Godfrey (26 April 1677) £2

To John Godfrey, Seven Acres Close part of Ponds Farm, Preston from John and wife Isabel Grainger

         (26 April 1677) £2

To Henry Izard, cottage and three acres in Preston Green from Michael Izard (16 April 1679) £1 13/-

To John Hayward, message at Preston Green from mother, Ann Hayward (12 May 1679) £3

To Joan Farr, messuage at Preston from Thomas Browne (12 May 1679) 14/-

To Andrew Bowstred,  two cottages and 16 poles at Preston Green from Robert and Catharine Browne

         (20 April 1681) £1

To Robert Ship snr. a messuage and three acres of land in Preston (20 April 1681) £4

To Richard Heath a messuage and three acres of land at Preston from Robert Ship (20 April 1681) £3

To Matthew Watts one messuage, one cottage and parcel of an orchard of two rods at Preston

          (now William Joyners) (20 April 1681) £4

To Grace and Mary Carrington, a messuage at Preston Green from John Carrington.

          (20 April 1681) £1 5/-


To John Andrews, a messuage at Cranwells Green from dec’d father, John Andrews

          (4 April 1684) £1 10/-

To John Reason, messuage at Preston Green with appurtenances, formerly held by Joan Farr

          and Thomas Browne (4 April 1684) £1 5/- (Forfeited by Farr and Browne after a mortgage taken out)

To Andrew and wife Elizabeth Bowstred, cottage and 15 poles of land on Preston Green from

          Andrew Bowstread (6 May 1685) 15/-

To John Joyner a messuage cottage and part of an orchard at Preston Green, from

          Matthew Watts (6 May 1685)  £3 10/-

To John Heath jnr a messuage cottage and part of an orchard at Preston Green from John Joyner.

         (6 May 1685) £1 15/-

To Thomas Oakley, a cottage on Preston Green from David Clements ( 27 March 1690) £1 10/-

To Edward Swain, one acre of land called Todds from John Godfrey (18 June 1691) £1 10/-

To John Browne, a messuage and orchard at Preston from father Thomas Brown (18 June 1691) £2 10/-

To John Carrington, a messuage on Preston Green from  dec’d father, John Carrington (18 June 1691)

         £1 17/-

To Thomas Oakley, a messuage at Cranwells Green from David Clements  deceased

          (18 June 1691) £1 10/-

To Mary Browne, a messuage on Preston Green in her occupation (19 May 1692) £1

To Ralph Bowstred, cottage and piece of land near Preston Green from Andrew Bowstred

          (3 June 1695) £1

To John Bowstred, cottage on Preston Green on death of father (17 October 1695) £2

To Mary Heath (wife of John) for cottage on Preston Green on death of brother, John Carrington

          (17 Oct 1695) £2

To John Hobbs for one messuage and closes of arable land  (Pitchly) in Preston from John Godfrey

          (17 Oct 1695) £30

To Anne Marshall (wife of Jeremiah) for a cottage in Cranwell Green from her father, Thomas Oakley

        (31 July 1696) £1

To Christian Draper from Anne Marshall (31 July 1696)

To John Austin, three cottages at Preston from  Andrew  Bowstred (8 April 1697) £2

To John Ramsey, a messuage at Cranwells Green from John Andrews (19 June 1701) £1

To Alice Joyner, a message and three acres of land  in Preston (previously Izards) from Richard Heath

      (19 June 1701) £2 2/-

To William Joyner, a messuage and cottage and part of an orchard in Preston (previously Robert Kings)

         from John Heath (19 June 1701) £1 10/-

To Anne Hanscombe (wife of James) for Horse cart and driftway in Preston on death of Ann Bell

          (19 June 1701)

To Edward and Mary Swain, one messuage near Preston Green and three closes of pasture of three

          acres, from  Leonard King (23 June 1704) £6 10/-

To John Bowstred, a small cottage and woodhouse, from dec’d father, John Bowstred

          (23 June 1704) 10/-

To Mary Browne, a cottage and 6½ rods of land near Preston Green, from Ralph Bowstred.

          (23 June 1704) £1

To Leonard and Elizabeth King, a cottage at Preston Green, from Richard Dearmer (12 April 1710) £1 17/-

To John Bowstred, for little cottage at Preston Green, from John Bowstred (12 April 1710) 15/-

To Cornelius Oakley, a messuage at Preston Green, on death of mother (12 April 1710) £3

To Thomas Welles for a cottage in Cranwells Green, late his dec’d mothers (8 July 1713) £1 17s 6d

To Leonard Ramsey a cottage at Cranwell Green, on father’s death (8 July 1713) £1 16/-

To Sir James Read, relief on his death re: house and land at the lower end of Cranwell Green (8 July 1713)

Relief (a levy charged when heirs took over property) to William King on death of father, Leonard King

    (8 July 1713)

Relief  to Daniel Joyner on father’s death (8 July 1713) (Now his son, John’s)

Relief to Edward Brooks for purchase from John Cresis (sic - Creasey)