A History of Preston

in Hertfordshire

Manor of Temple Dinsley.  Lord – Elizabeth Darton, widow. Steward – George Debenham (deputy of Edward Thompson. The Homage – Thomas Harwood Darton and Benjamin Hill. Held 3 March 1845


William Curling died 30 December 1842. His heirs - his wife and son, William Curling, junior. William, junior was admitted to the following property on 3 March 1845 for 40 years:


a) Two closes of arable land comprising four acres – ‘Waley Wick’ and ‘Waley Close’. These had been previously owned by John and Jeremy Godfrey and were later enclosed with a close called ‘Woodclose’. Woodclose had been owned previously by George Millett, Thomas Flower, Ellis John Ayton and William Davis and was sold to William Curling.


b) One acre of pasture (formerly arable land) lying near and enclosed with Preston Downs, previously owned

by George Pierson.


c) One acre of pasture (formerly arable land) lying near and enclosed with Preston Downs, previously owned

by George Lyle. b) and c) had previously been owned by Joseph Roberts, then William Mellish and Thomas Oakley. The annual rent was 3/9d.
































































































































































































































































Old Enclosure

To Preston

Hill farm

To Preston


‘Cranwell Green’, Preston, Herts showing proposed Enclosures of Waste (pink) (sic)

To Back Lane

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: Benjamin Hill and James Waight. Held: 3 November 1869.


John Curling had died. By his will dated 1 July 1865 he had bequeathed his property (listed on 3 March 1845 inherited from William Curling see above) to his wife Flora Jones Curling of Brooklands Hall, Guildfield, Montgomery. She was admitted as tenant for a fine of £19.


On 29 September 1869, it was recorded that Flora Curling leased the property listed on 3 March 1845 and 5 January 1870 (below) to Stephen Marriott, farmer of Preston, for 21 years. She paid a fine of 4/4 1/2d.


Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: William Brown and James Waight. Held: 5 January 1870


d) Henry Crabbe had been admitted as tenant of Todds Close (to the south of Chequers Lane) on 26 January 1833 following the death of his father, Henry Crabbe, senior. Henry, junior had died at Toronto, Canada on 21 November 1856, a bachelor. Edward Crabbe (of the London Stock Exchange), the only surviving brother of Henry,was admitted as tenant. Todds Close was one acre and included Chamberlains and Breeches after enclosure (37, 38 and 40). It had had been occupied by John Swain, then William Swain his son, Samuel Kirkby and now Stephen Marriott. The rent was 8d pa. Henry Crabbe, junior, had since sold the land to William Curling on 6 March 1848 for £49. It was now in the possession of Flora Jones Curling who was now admitted as tenant for a fine of £3.



Samuel Lucas was admitted as tenant of the property hitherto owned by Joseph and then Harriet

Saunderson.  Joseph Saunderson by his will of 5 June 1829 bequeathed his whole estate to his wife and

after his death the residue was to be divided equally between his five children: Joseph, Sophia, Charles, Stephen and Alfred (Saunderson). Samuel Lucas was owed £454 3/- to redeem the two mortgages taken

out on the property by first Joseph and then Harriet Saunderson. This sum was paid by the surviving executor

of Joseph Saunderson’s will, Priscilla Swain. She sold the property to William Brown, yeoman of Bendish, St Pauls Walden for £820. The property was now described as ‘the cottage now used as a public house, the Red Lion at Preston and two closes of pasture (of four acres) – previously three and one closes – adjoining the said cottage’. William Brown was admitted as tenant for 40 years.




Out of Court 26 September 1877


William Brown, farmer of Preston died. He owned the Red Lion and two closes of adjoining land of four acres

for which he was paying rent of £1 10/- pa. His will dated 21 December 1871 was produced by his wife Emma Brown. She inherited everything including farming stock. Then after her death the estate was to be sold and divided among their children – administered by Whitbread Roberts and William’s son, Alfred Brown. Emma

was admitted as tenant.

Manor of Temple Dinsley.  Lord – Elizabeth Darton, widow. Steward – George Debenham (deputy of Edward Thompson. The Homage – Thomas Harwood Darton and Benjamin Hill. Held 3 March 1845

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: Thomas Harwood Darton. Held: 21 November 1850

(Note: Green numbers refer to land shown on Tithe Map of 1844. Link: Tithe Map)

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Temple Dinsley Manor

Court Rolls Summary 1845 -1922

Manor of Temple Dinsley.  Lord – Elizabeth Darton, widow. Steward – George Debenham (deputy of Edward Thompson. The Homage – Thomas Harwood Darton and Benjamin Hill. Held 3 March 1845


On 4 April 1829, Joseph Saunderson , yeoman of Preston, Hitchin mortgaged the following property for £200 plus interest at 5% pa.to Hitchin bankers, Joseph Margetts Pierson and Henry Crabbe:


a) The cottage with shop and appurtences at Preston and three closes of land (of three acres) on the back-side of the dwelling house which had previously been owned by Edward Swain, blacksmith. Rent 18/- pa.


b) The close (of one acre) adjoining a cottage at Preston Green. Rent 12/- pa.


Joseph Saunderson had been  admitted as tenant to a) and b) (together with houses, outhouses,  edifices, buildings, stables, yards, gardens, orchards, hedges, ditches, trees, fences, ways, waters, watercourses) on 25 April 1811 when they were surrendered by Stephen Swain.     


Henry Crabbe died 17 June 1830. Joseph Pierson died 9 May 1842. Thomas Gorham Pierson was admitted to the mortgaged property on 24 February 1843. The mortgage was taken over by Samuel Lucas, brewer of Hitchin on 6 June 1843.


On 16 November 1833, Harriet Saunderson of Preston had been admitted as tenant to this property for 40 years according to the will of her late husband, Joseph. She mortgaged the property to Samuel Lucas for £139.

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: James Waight. 30 August 1875


Flora Jones Curling sold the property b) and c)  previously described (3 March 1845, top) at Preston Downs to Robert Curling of 55 Princes Square, Middlesex for £64.


Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Out of court.


Robert Curling bought the freehold of the land previously described (b and c) for £30 from William Henry Darton.


Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. 1 November 1919 re property of Flora Jones Curling (see before)

Flora Curling sold a) and d)  Waley Wick/Close and Todds Close to Edward Spencer Curling by an Indenture dated 13 May 1904. She had since died. Edward was admitted as tenant and bought the freehold on

1 December 1919.

Indenture 29 September 1896. Re: Red Lion and adjoining land including barn and granary.


As Emma Brown died on 26 October 1895 without re-marrying and Whitbread Roberts did not accept his bequest (by Deed Poll), Alfred Brown sold the Red Lion (recently occupied by Messrs Pryor Reid and Co.)

and land to John William Green, brewer of Luton for £1650.


John Green was admitted as tenant on 16 February 1897 and paid a fine of £97. He bought the freehold from Emily Darton for £200 on 22 March 1898




James Joyner had been admitted as tenant for 40 years on 13 October 1773 of a cottage, two cottages and part of an orchard at Preston Green. He sold the property (which had never been surrendered to the Court) to Thomas Wilston. On his death, his son, Daniel Wilston, wheelwright of Preston and Thomas’s eldest son was admitted to the property which was now described as the messuage, wheelwright and blacksmiths shop, barn, yard, garden and orchard at Preston Green. Daniel paid a fine of £30 for 40 years tenancy.


Daniel mortgaged the above property for £60 plus 5% interest to Thomas Harwood Darton of Kings Walden.

John Gootheridge Late of Kings Walden (Preston Hill Farm), now of Bendish sold his copyhold property to Henricus Octavus Roe (born 1761c Stotfold, Beds. and a landed proprietor in 1851) for £1990. William Vaughan of Stotfold, Beds was given the use of the land and was admitted as tenant on payment of a fine of £145. Details of copyhold property:


1) The cottage (with orchard and  garden – one acre) on west side of road that separates Kings Walden and Hitchin parishes which were occupied by Jonathan Walker (see 1841 and 1851 census) (No 459 on Enclosure Plan). And, site of cottage ‘long since standing on the orchard but now wasted’. Rent: 2/6 pa.

2) Another cottage to north of 1) with orchard and gardens measuring 1 acre 14 perches. Previously

      occupied by Joseph Sharpe (No. 457) Rent: 1/2d.

3) Another cottage a short distance northwards of 2) with yard, orchard and garden measuring 2 rods, 2 perches. And, site of cottage long since wasted in occupation of Ann Pedder. (No. 456) Rent: 4d pa.

4) Taylors Orchard to west of 3); bounded by Sir Frances Knight’s land to north and by 5) to the west –

     2 acres 10 perches. (No 455) Rent: 1/- pa.

5) Ash Croft bounded by 4) to the west; Sir Frances Knight’s land to north; Foster’s land to west and by

    6) to the south - 1 acre 3 rods 34 perches (No 454) Rent: 1/6d pa.

6) Broad Close – bounded by 5); freehold land owned by John Gootheridge; Great Bennetts to the east and Foster’s land to the west -7 acres 4 perches (No 453) Rent: 4/-

7) New Close – south of 6) and bounded by Great Bennetts to west -9 acres 6 perches (No. 451) Rent: 4/6d

8) Five acres only of Great Bennetts (which measured 10 acres 3 rods and 3 perches) to east of 70 and bounded by freehold land belonging to John Gootheridge called the Wick and Bushey Close to the east – (No. 461) Rent: 2/6d.

9) Hay Tail – in south-west corner of 8); bounded by New Close to the north; 10) to the west and freehold

      land formerly belonging to Daniel Rudd then John Gootheridge called Pytchley Close to the east -

      3 acres 2 rods 13 perches (No 446) Rent: 1/9d.

10) Little Frogmore – to west of 9); New Close to north; Sir F Willes land to west and 110 to the south -

     3 acres 3 rods 18 perches (No. 447) Rent: 1/10

11) Pytsley Close – to south of 9) and 10); bounded by freehold land owned by John Gootheridge called

     Morden Close to the east; bounded by land owned by Sir F Willes and formerly John Gootheridge, now William Sheaf, to the west and the road to the south - 8 acres 1 rod 5 perches (No. 423) Rent: 4/3d.

12) Great Hearns Field – at the extreme north-east of the parish of Kings Walden and bounded by

      Hearnsfield Wood to east and south -17 acres 2 rods 24 perches (No 471) Rent 9/6d.


(Note: the numbers relating to the property mentioned above refers to the Kings Walden Enclosure map. This is held at HALS but is fragmented. The alternative numbers (in blue) relate to the map of Preston Hill Farm on this site. Link: Preston Hill Farm.)

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: John Curling and Benjamin Hill. Held: 4 May 1857.


According to the Court Records, on 11 November 1839, William Swaine of Preston died and by his will dated 30 September 1825 he bequeathed a cottage, barn and garden at Preston Green (occupied by Paul Williams, then William Gentle, William Joyner and now James Scott) to his spinster daughter, Dinah Swaine during her life and afterwards to his daughter, Aney Palmer (husband of Samuel Palmer of Preston). Dinah was admitted as tenant on 11 November 1839. She surrendered the property to Thomas Harwood Darton on 21 May 1856 for the consideration of an annuity of £6.


Out of Court 23 October 1877


Following the deaths of Dinah Swaine and Aney Palmer, the close of 5 acres 1 perch called Garretts in Kings Walden parish (Rent 2/- pa) was bequeathed to John Swain, blacksmith of Preston, who produced a copy of Aney Palmer’s will dated 16 January 1877 (Aney having survived Dinah). John Swain was admitted as tenant for a fine of 2/-. The property was then mortgaged to Edwin Logsdon for £100 plus 5% interest. The mortgage was repaid with £150 by John Swain on 6 December 1879.


Indenture 9 December 1879.


Re Garretts End (see before) which was bounded north and east by road and south and west by land owned by Charles Hale, £57 10/- was paid to the Lord of the manor, Thomas Harwood Darton by John Swain to enfranchise  or convert the property from copyhold to freehold.

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Out of Court before Armigel Wade, steward of lord of manor, William Henry Darton on 20 October 1873.


On 18 January 1841, Benjamin Hill had been admitted as tenant of the following property:


1)   A cottage at Preston and three closes of pasture totally 3 acres and a close nearest the cottage (26 - 28) being pasture previously in the occupation of James Turner.

2)   Ponds Cottage formerly occupied by John Godfrey and 9 closes of arable land, meadow and pasture (measuring 23 acres) (4 - 6; 18 - 25) near Ponds Cottage

3)   A close of arable land and pasture in Kings Walden parish called High Field – 5 acres 2 rods and 6 perches (2 rods 20 perches of which were sold to Sir F Willes by Charles Hill)


Benjamin Hill died on 15 January 1871 and by his will dated 27 7 1870 he bequeathed all his estate to his wife, Hannah Hill, David Pennyfather of Colts Foot Farm, Datchworth, Herts and Thomas Campkin of Broomhall, Watton, Herts. Hannah was to receive the income from rents etc.The property was to be sold by the two surviving trustees after Hannah’s death. The three heirs were admitted as tenants for 40 years for a fine of £3. The total rent of the properties was 15/2d.


Lease noted 23 May 1878

Benjamin Hill’s property described above was leased by Hannah Hill of Hope Villa, Stevenage to Stephen Marriott for 15 years from 29 September 1877.


Manor Court held 5 November 1884.


Thomas Campkin, surviving trustee of Benjamin Hill, sold the following for £1375 to John  Harvey Lovell of Bedford Square, Brighton and George Bryan Milman, Lieutenant-General of London:

1) A cottage

2) Three closes of pasture adjoining above cottage. Nearest Close formerly occupied by James Turner

(sold to Benjamin Hill by Richard Oakley in 18 January 1841

3) ‘Ponds’, a cottage formerly occupied by John Godfrey.

4) Nine closes comprising 23 acres of arable land near Ponds:

5) ‘Wellcroft’ – a close of seven acres of arable land and a spinney.

6) ‘High Field Close’, Kings Walden – 5 acres 2 rods 6 perches inherited by Benjamin Hill after the death of Charles Hill in 1841 now occupied by Thomas Marriott.

7) Ponds Farm with land comprising 38 acres 3 rods 22 perches as follows:

             ‘Wellbrook’ 7a 2r 35p

             ‘Lower Pasture’ 1 2 24

             ‘Eight Piece’ or ‘Eight Acres’ 1 2 24

             ‘Home Field’ 11 3 38

             ‘Pruddie Pasture’ 1 3 8

             House and Garden 2a – 19p

             ‘Ley Pasture’ and ‘Sweard Close’ 4a – 31p

             ‘Little Down Field’ and ‘Ploughed Close’ 3 2 6

(Note: Benjamin Hill mortgaged land to Sarah Herbert Hicks for £800 and interest on 13 September 1862. The mortgage was paid off. Hannah Hill died 13 November 1883.)


Lovell and Milman were admitted as tenants on 16 January and bought the freehold of the  property for £375.

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley.


An indenture dated 20 November 1875. A sale was completed between William Henry Darton and Henry Maclean Pryor of two pieces of waste (i.e. uncultivated land) land measuring 2 rods and 18 perches at Cranwell Green (sic), Preston for £30.


Site Diagram:

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: Alfred Brown and John Swain 7 October 1878

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley. Homage: Alfred Brown, John Swain and Benjamin Brown. 13 October 1878.

Manor Court of Temple Dinsley.Homage: Alfred Brown and Benjamin Brown. 4 October 1880.


The final Temple Dinsley Manor Court Baron was held on 18 December 1922

Notes on

Court Rolls