Henry Hetherington was the son of a London tailor, John Hetherington (1770 to 6 November 1806), and was born on 17 June 1792, at 16 Compton Street, Soho, London. He was one of four children and was baptised in the church of St Giles-in-the-Fields.
When he was thirteen, on 5 November 1805, he began work as an apprentice printer at Luke Hansard's printing works at Holborn, London. In c.1810 he worked as a shopman for Richard Carlile, and from c1812 to 1815 he worked as a printer in Ghent, Belgium.
In 1811 Hetherington married Elizabeth Thomas, of Wales, and the marriage produced nine children. Only one son, David, was still living at time of Henry's death.
In the 1820s Hetherington became influenced by the ideas of Robert Owen and joined the Co-operative Printers Association, and became active in the Radical Reform Association. In 1821 he became a member of the London Co-operative and Economical Society community, Spa Fields, London, led by George Mudie.
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