term paper on schizophrenia This medieval manor house was built in the early 16th century, with alterations in the 17th century and renovations at a later date.
Preston Court became an important farm, but in 1849 the farm buildings suffered catastrophic damage following an arson attack. At this time Mr. John Davies was the lessee of the farm under the Dean and Chapter of Hereford.

Servant Boy Charged with Incendiary Fire at Preston Court

In 1849 a fire on 3rd April reduced the extensive farm buildings of Mr. John Davis of Preston Court in Preston on Wye to a pile of rubble; at the same time a large quantity of feed, waggons, carts and farming implements were destroyed. Three barns, four beast houses, a stable and many sheds and other outbuildings over roughly three quarters of an acre were demolished with no walls remaining standing – fortunately all the animals were rescued, but it was not an easy task.

 

The buildings were only insured for £500, and this was nowhere near enough to cover the cost of the damage. It was reported that the blaze was so large and terrifying that at least 2000 people turned up to try to help.

There was no doubt that someone had deliberately set fire to the property but at first there were no suspects – then a couple of days later circumstances arose which led people to believe that John Jones, a 14 year old servant of Mr. Davis, was the perpetrator of the deed. In fact, Jones himself later confessed to Mr. Davies’ sister, saying that he used a Lucifer match – he hoped that because he had owned up he would be forgiven.

John Jones was the youngest of several boys, and his father, an out and out Chartist, lived close to Preston Court. Mr. Davis had always been very kind to Jones and his parents  and had helped him and his brothers as they grew up, giving them work and trying to guide them into adulthood.

Apparently on the morning of the fire he had been reprimanded by Mr. Davis for neglecting the horses, and he was told not to go near them again while the job was given to another boy.   Perhaps this had annoyed Jones, who was of limited intelligence, enough to set the fire.

The Court Hearing

John Jones was described as having a “heavy stupid appearance” and when he first arrived at Preston Court he appeared quite nonchalant about the whole thing, even enjoying bread and cheese and a mug of cider, (provided by the ever kind John Davis) but by the end of the proceedings he seemed to realise the seriousness of his position and burst into tears. His previous lies when first questioned were picked apart and after many witness statements as well as his own admission,  his guilt was without doubt.

John Jones was convicted of setting fire to the farm buildings at preston court and sentenced to 15 years transportation. He was ordered by the Secretary of State to Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of White.

1851 – Preston Court Household

John Davis 52 Farmer of 235 acres employing 8 labourers b. Herefordshire
Julianna Davis 45 Wife b. Herefordshire
Joseph Minest 12 Farm servant b. Herefordshire
William Jones 17 Farm Servant b. Herefordshire
Eliza Worthington 18 Farm Servant b. Herefordshire
Ann Preece 16 Farm Servant b. Herefordshire

1861 – Preston Court Household

John Davis 63 Farmer of 230 Acres b. Herefordshire
Julia Davis 55 Wife b. Herefordshire
Thomas Seabourn 18 Groom b. Herefordshire
George Gardiner 16 Carter b. Herefordshire
Harriet Seval 27 House Maid b. Herefordshire
Hannah Rice 18 Dairy Maid b. Herefordshire

1871 – Preston Court Household

John Davis 73 Farmer b. Norton Cannon, Herefordshire
Julianna Davis 66 Wife b. Kentchurch, Herefordshire
Thomas Davis 25 Nephew b. Madley, Herefordshire
Henry Williams 16 Indoor farm servant b. Woolhope, Herefordshire
Thomas Seal 16 Indoor farm servant b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Ann Prosser 25 General servant b. Brinsop, Herefordshire
Catherine Prosser 22 General servant b. Preston on wye, Herefordshire

1881 – Preston Court Household

Jonathan Davis 36 Farmer of 300 Acres b. Madley, Herefordshire
Mary E. Davis 35 Wife b. Kingstone, Herefordshire
Ethel Davis 6mths Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Juliana Davis 76 Widow, Aunt b. Herefordshire
William J. Davis 33 Brother b. Madley, Herefordshire
Elizabeth Jancey 22 Cook b. Preston on Wynne, Herefordshire
Emily Thomas 17 Housemaid b. Mansel Lacey, Herefordshire
John Williams 16 Groom b. Moccas, Herefordshire
George Thomas 17 Waggoners Boy b. Holmer, Herefordshire

1891 – Preston Court Household

John Davis 46 Farmer b. Madley, Herefordshire
Mary Davis 45 Wife b. Kingstone, Herefordshire
Ethel Davis 10 Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Frances Davis 9 Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Juliana Davis 86 Widow, Aunt b. Kentchurch, Herefordshire
Alice Rogers 19 Cook b. Clehonger, Herefordshire
Emma Williams 18 Housemaid b. Herefordshire
John Davies 19 Groom b. Lyonshall, Herefordshire

1901 – Preston Court Household

Jonathan Davis 57 Farmer b. Madley, Herefordshire
Mary E. Davis 58 Wife b. Kingstone, Herefordshire
Ethel Mary Davis 20 Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Mary Jane Davis 51 Visitor, living on own means b. Madley, Herefordshire
Frances Davis 47 Visitor, living on own means b. Madley, Herefordshire
Gregory E. Damer 24 Farm Assistant b. Gloucestershire
 Kate  Williams 18 Domestic Servant b. Breinton, Herefordshire

1911 – Preston Court Household

Jonathan Davis 66 Farmer b. Madley, Herefordshire
Ethel Mary Davis 30 Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Isabel Grace Davis 25 Daughter b. Preston on Wye, Herefordshire
Harold Oswald Summers 22 Farm worker b. Tooting, Surrey