Hertfordshire Genealogy

Answers to Questions


SWAIN, Preston, 19th Century

October 2002





George Moore (gee.moore @t virgin.net) of Slough says: I have just started out in research of my wife's family history. According to the 1901 census her 3x Gt Grandfather George SWAIN gave his age as 72 birth place Preston, Herts. Could you tell me where in Herts this place Preston is and which PR's I should be looking in to find his baptism please ?.

Preston is about 3 miles south of Hitchin, and previously part of Hitchin parish, and I have added a page relating to it - see Preston. However care must be taken not to jump to the conclusion that he would have been baptised in Hitchin. If you look for George on familysearch you will find two entries (duplicates?) for a George Swain, son of William and Sarah Swain, who was baptised at Ippollitts in 1828 - and if you look at a reasonably large scale map you will find that St Ippollitts is a parish a couple of miles south of Hitchin (as it was before the 20th century sprawl developed), and immediately adjacent to Preston. This could be your George

You don't say where George was living,  or what his occupation was, at the time of the 1901 census, but I note that at the time of the 1881 census (see familysearch for details) a George Swain, aged 51 was listed as a straw hat blocker in Luton, Beds, born at "Hertford, England" (which should be interpreted as Hertfordshire, England). The straw hat industry was based in Luton, whose football team is still known as "The Hatters" and Luton is only a few miles from Preston.

May 2004

Richard Harris (Richard.harris.hpa @t herts.pnn.police.uk) adds the following possibly relevant information: Looking under the 1901 census for my house in Luton, I discovered a "Sydney Swain" lived there aged 42 in 1901 (within the age of having a 72 year old father in 1901). Sydney was also a "hat blocker" and was married to Louisa (42 in 1901) and had seven childen - Horace (22), Beatrice (19), Annie (16), Myra (13), Violet (10), Louisa (5) and another daughter whose name I can't read (aged 7).

If you can add to the information given above tell me.