Frances Preston


Portrait of Frances Michell (c. 1753), nee Preston,
widow of William Jermy of Bayfield

Frances Preston seems to have had quite a "bad press" during her years in Norfolk. She has been compared to a Heifer, in her pride and described as At 29 in Virtue's last despair, with neck untuckered, and with Bosom bare, .... Down to her Navel pour the light, And spread her nauseous - Bosom to ye sight in a poem by Rev. Philip Francis. Richard Gardiner found her pleasing to the eye: She was tall, genteel, and very graceful in all her motions, her complexion fair to an uncommon degree, her eyes very large, her neck beautifully rounded and of a hue of alabaster, but then accused her of writing a jealous letter to the pregnant wife of a clergyman, and behaving in a very unladylike manner.

She was born on 7 December 1724 at Beeston St Lawrence, to Jacob Preston as his wife Elizabeth, nee Perry. She was the youngest child, and one of three daughters. Neither of her sisters seems to have earned any admonition from satirists, so something must have marked her out as worthy of comment. Perhaps she was as aggressive and scheming as her older brother Isaac Preston, the barrister who seems to have have had his nose in most of the goings-on of the Jermy family of Bayfield?

It is highly probable that Frances' elder brother Isaac Preston saw her as a way of ensuring that all the Jermy estates could be taken over for their own use, once William's first wife Elizabeth died on 1 August 1791. William Jermy and Frances Preston were married (a Smithfield Bargain?) two months later, on 7 October 1751. William's final will, ostensibly giving all of the Jermy estates to the Preston family, was written on 12 December 1751, and William died on 21 January 1752, aged 37.

There was an epigram written about her less than generous contribution to St Michael, Aylsham, after the death of her first husband William Jermy in 1752.

Frances married her second husband John Michell in a private ceremony at her Pall Mall house in London, on 20 May 1754. Even this event seems mired in controversy.

John and Frances had three children, Amelia, Charles and George, who were born in Frances' Pall Mall house. They also owned the Bayfield Hall estate, but this was eventually sold and the family moved to Forcett, Yorkshire. John Michell died on 12 December 1766, and was buried in St Andrew, Letheringsett. Frances died in Kensington on 18 November 1791, and was buried at St Cuthbert, Forcett. John's remains were removed from Letheringsett and re-interred at St Cuthbert, Forcett on 19 April 1792.


Eighteenth Century Satire - and the Prestons
First husband - William Jermy of Bayfield
The History of Pudica
Second husband - John Michell
Monuments and Memorials
Will