Henry Hetherington - Printer


In 1822 Hetherington registered his own press and type at 13 Kingsgate Street, Holborn (now Southampton Row), an eight-roomed house, including shop and printing premises, costing £55 per annum rent

On 11 January 1823 he published the first (and possibly only) edition of the Political Economist and Universal Philanthropist, edited by George Mudie.

This was a time when reformers like Richard Carlile were being imprisoned for publishing material that was critical of the government. However, for people like Hetherington and Carlile, the publication of newspapers and pamphlets were vitally important in the political education of the working class.

In the 1830s Hetherington published a series of radical newspapers including: The Penny Papers for the People (1830); The Radical (1831) and The Poor Man's Guardian (1831–1835). In 1833 Hetherington was selling 220,000 copies a week of The Poor Man's Guardian. Hetherington was punished by the authorities several times for these activities. This included being fined on numerous occasions, imprisoned in 1833 and 1836, and having all his printing presses seized and destroyed in 1835.

Hetherington played a leading role in the campaign against the heavy stamp duty taxation on newspapers and pamphlets. This campaign resulted in several reforms in the law. In 1833 when the four-penny tax on newspapers was reduced to one-penny. The same year Parliament agreed to remove the tax on pamphlets.

Tried in 1840 for selling Charles Junius Haslam's Letters to the Clergy of All Denominations, a serial one-penny publication containing Haslam's Deist criticism of the Bible, Hetherington was indicted on a blasphemous libel charge in February 1840. Despite being willing to plead guilty in return for a suspended sentence, Abel Heywood, the publisher, was let go unpunished by the authorities. Hetherington was convicted.

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