Preston Bissett


(including Cowley)


"This parish covers 1520 acres, of which 130 are arable and 1339 permanent grass. The soil is clay and gravel, the subsoil various. The parish is watered by a tributary of the River Ouse. The west of the parish lies low, but the land rises to 357 ft. above the ordnance datum at Cowley in the south-east. The picturesque village of Preston Bissett is situated in the north of the parish, and is grouped round the parish church, which stands in a churchyard on rising ground. The cottages of which it is mainly composed are thatched, many of them dating from the 17th century, whilst the inn known as 'The Old Hat', which stands opposite the church, is an ancient building of interest..." [© copyright of the editors of The Victoria Histories of the Counties of England]



The following reference sources have been used in the construction of this page, and may be referred to for further detail. Most if not all of these volumes are available in the Reference section of the County Library in Aylesbury.

"Buckinghamshire Returns of the Census of Religious Worship 1851", Legg E. ed., 1991, ISBN 0 901198 27 7.
"Dictionary of English Place-Names", A.D. Mills, Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0 19 28131 3
"Magna Britannia: Buckinghamshire", Lysons S. and Lysons D., 1806.
"The Place-Names of Buckinghamshire", Mawer A. and Stenton F.M., 1925.
"The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Buckinghamshire", Page W. ed., 1905-1928
"War Memorials and War Graves: Buckingham Hundred, Volume 7", Peter Quick.



War Memorials

War memorials in Preston Bissett have been transcribed by Peter Quick, and published in a booklet entitled "War Memorials and War Graves: Buckingham Hundred, Volume 7", available from the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.



In 1798 the Posse Comitatus listed 88 men between the ages of 16 and 60 in Preston Bissett.

In the earliest government census of 1801, there were 322 inhabitants in 77 families living in 73 houses recorded in Preston Bissett.

Census YearPopulation of Preston Bissett

* = No names were recorded in census documents from 1801 to 1831.
** = Census documents from 1911 to 2001 are only available in summary form. Names are witheld under the 100 year rule.

Microfilm copies of all census enumerators' notebooks for 1841 to 1891 are held at the Local Studies Libraries at Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as well as centrally at the PRO. A table of 19th century census headcount by parish is printed in the VCH of Bucks, Vol.2, pp 96-101.

Availability of census transcripts and indexes.

  • 1851 - Full transcripts and indexes for Buckinghamshire are available on CD-ROM, hard copy and microfiche from the Buckinghamshire Family History Society.
  • 1861 - Available on CD-ROM with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.
  • 1881
    • Available on CD-ROM from the Church of the Latter Day Saints, as part of the National 1881 Census Index.
    • Available on CD-ROM for Buckinghamshire, with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from Drake Software.
  • 1891 - Available on CD-ROM with advanced search and mapping capabilities etc. from the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.

Church Records

The original copies of the parish registers for St John the Baptist, Preston Bissett have been deposited in the Buckinghamshire Record Office in Aylesbury, and they hold the following years:

EventDates covered
Christenings1643 - 1914
Marriages1630 - 1837
Burials1654 - 1889

Copies or indexes to the parish registers are available from societies as follows:

Society Library*
Dates covered
1576 - 1840
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society
1576 - 1840
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society
1576 - 1840
Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society

* = material held in a Society library is generally available for loan to all members either via post, or by collection at a meeting

An ecclesiastical census was carried out throughout England on 30 March 1851 to record the attendance at all places of worship. These returns are in the Buckinghamshire Record Office and have been published by the Buckinghamshire Record Society (vol 27). The returns for Preston Bissett showed the following numbers:

Preston Bissett,
St John the Baptist
170 - Morning General Congregation
76 - Morning Sunday Scholars
246 - Morning Total

240 - Evening General Congregation
240 - Evening Total


Description & Travel

You can see pictures of Preston Bissett which are provided by:




Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Preston Bissett has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



Preston Bissett was described in 1806 in "Magna Britannia" as follows:

PRESTON-BISSET, in the hundred and deanery of Buckingham, lies about four miles south-west of the county-town. Browne Willis, in his history of the hundred of Buckingham, says, that the Bissets from whom the village derived its additional name, sold the manor in the year 1290; that, in the reign of Edward II. it was in the Baddlesmeres, and descended from them by female heirs to the families of Tibtoft, Roos, and Manners, but it was said by Dugdale that John Wentworth married the heir of the Bissets; and that the Wentworths continued in consequence of that alliance, in possession of Preston-Bisset so late as the reign of King Henry the Fifth. It is certain that King Edward IV. in the year 1477, granted it to Richard Fowler esq. in consequence of the attainder of Thomas Lord Roos; and that, on the reversal of the attainder, this manor (with other estates) was restored to that nobleman, and passed by marriage to the family of Manners, earl of Rutland, of whom Browne Willis says it was purchased, as he learned, by the Caters about the year 1630. From them it passed by marriage to the family of Gibbs, who, in the year 1699, sold it to Sir Edmund Denton bart. of Hillesdon. It has since passed with that manor being now the property of Mrs. Coke, the representative of the Dentons and relict of the late Wenman Coke esq. of Holkham.

The advowson of the rectory which had been successively in the families of Baleby, Langston, and Major, was purchased by Sir Edmund Denton in 1655. It is now the property of Mrs. Coke. In the parish church are some memorials of the family of Major. This parish has been inclosed under an act of parliament passed in 1781; when an allotment of land was assigned in lieu of tithes to the rector.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP658298 (Lat/Lon: 51.962796, -1.043743), Preston Bissett which are provided by:


Names, Geographical

  • Preston Bissett - The name Preston derives from the old english preost + tun, and means 'priest(s) farm'. The manorial affix originates from the Biset family who held the manor from the 12th century.
  • Cowley - probably derives from the old english of a persons name + leah, meaning 'Cufa's clearing'.