Hetherington continued his campaign against taxes on newspapers and in 1849 formed the Newspaper Stamp Abolition Committee. A few months later, on 23 August 1849, Hetherington died of cholera at his residence at 57 Judd Street, Brunswick Square, London. He had been ill for some days, but held anti-medicinal views.
On 26 August two thousand people gathered at Kensal Green Cemetery to pay their respects to the man who had spent his adult life fighting for social reform. Orations were given by George Holyoake and James Watson.
In his will, Hetherington left only £200-worth of goods and chattels, and James Watson and Whitaker, his executors, had trouble in meeting the claims on his estate.
In 1853 and 1854 there were reports that Hetherington was communicating with mediums.
In June 1873 a granite obelisk was erected in his memory at Kensal Green Cemetery.
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