Preston, Reuben Thomas
19 November 1846 – 9 January 1913
Reuben was a senior director of Messrs J Stone and Co Ltd, an engineering company in Dartford. He and his wife Frances Margaret (1840-1920) moved to Hayes Court with its 23 rooms in 1894. It was ideal for his large family although some had already left home. Between 1898 and 1900 four of his sons and daughters were married in Hayes Church. The first wedding took place on 29th December 1898 when their eldest daughter Margaret Alice married Revd William Hamilton who lived in Chelsea. A week later her younger sister, 26 year old Frances, married Horace Pitman a schoolmaster from Blackheath. The following year her 24 year old brother Walter, who became an MP, married Ella Morris the daughter of Huson Morris, a stockbroker, who also lived in Hayes. The last daughter to marry was Evelyn whose wedding took place on July 31st 1900 to Revd Aubrey Aitken. Reuben and Frances’s sons George and Arthur both went into the ministry and Arthur later became Bishop of Woolwich. By 1901 Reuben and Frances lived at Hayes Court just with their servants.
Reuben was away when the 1911 Census was recorded but Frances, to whom he had been married for 44 years, was at home with a cook, three parlourmaids and a between-maid to look after the 28 rooms of Hayes Court. Reuben suffered from ill health for about 18 months before he died at the age of 66 in 1913. People remembered his charity which ‘was far reaching and unbounded and many poor people have lost a friend who they revered’. Although he did not take a prominent pat in the affairs of the village he gave a helping hand to many of the local organisations and was chiefly responsible for the establishment of the Hayes Rifle Range.
His widow, Frances Margaret Preston, remained at Hayes Court but during the first world war she moved to stay with her youngest daughter Louise who had married Wilfrid Hawkings and lived at Greenways on the border of Hayes Common. Like her husband she was known for her generous nature. Her funeral service was conducted by the Rector Revd H P Thompson and her two sons George and Arthur. She was buried beside her husband in a grave situated close to the Hambro Memorial.