It is not a straightforward task to produce a definitive list of those who died in
Preston in the nineteenth century. The burial records of the parishes of Hitchin,
Kings Walden, St Pauls Walden and Ippollitts must be consulted as well as the records
of the non-conformist churches and chapels in Hitchin.
A further complication is that after 1855, Hitchin burials were conducted at St Johns
Road Cemetery and not at St Marys churchyard, Hitchin. I am very grateful to Carole
Casey, Burials Officer for North Hertfordshire District Council for providing a list
of burials of Preston people from 1855 to 1901.
Another problem is that although census returns indicate that some villagers died
at Preston in the decade between the censuses, I have been unable to find a record
of some of these burials.
The list which follows includes all those of whom it was said they were residents
of Preston when they died and also some who lived in Preston but may have moved away
before their demise. Link: Preston burials 1800-1900
From 1800-1900, I calculate that about 459 Preston residents died - an average of
4-5 each year or approximately 1% of the village’s population.
The oldest man in Preston during this century was my 3x great grandfather William
Ward, a farm labourer, who died in 1866 aged 94. The oldest woman was Mary Andrews
of Poynders End who was 93 when she died in 1839.
The pattern of longevity in Preston is as one would expect. Twenty percent of babies
died before reaching twenty-four months. Forty-one percent of villagers lived to
the age of 60 and beyond. So, if Prestonians survived to the age of two, then a probable
life span of at least 60 years lay ahead - provided mothers survived childbirth and
farm workers avoided lethal accidents.