Books on Hertfordshire

Stephen Austin of Hertford

Two hundred years of print

James Moran

Stephen Austin, Hertford, 1968

Paperback Book, 28.5 * 18 cm, 72 pages

The book describes the history of the Hertford-based printing firm.

"If family tradition could be relied upon, this history of Hertford's first printing firm, founded by Stephen Austin in 1768, would begin with a stirring account of how young Austin, the intrepid apprentice, helped the famous 18th century politician, John Wilkes, in his fight for freedom of the press. Unfortunately, Austin's descendants., perhaps innocently, exaggerated the role played by him in the Wilkes affair."

However it is clear that Stephen Austin worked for Wilkes' publisher, George Kearley, in London, and had strong connections with the Radical movement which were continued by his descendents. He published the newspaper, the Hartford Mercury, in 1772, and the company later founded the Reformer in 1834, which later became the Hertfordshire Mercury.  The book is not only a an excellent account of a successful printing firm, but throws light on the politics of the late 18th and early 19th century.

  1. The John Wilkes legend

  2. The foundation of the firm

  3. The Reform Movement

  4. Printer of Oriental Books

  5. "The ingenious proprietor"

  6. Men and Machines

  7. New Blood - The Harrisons

  8. The First World War and after

  9. The Newspapers

  10. Another war and new developments

  11. Growth and expansion

There is a web page for Hertford

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Page amended August 2007