1841 Census A possible sighting of Henry in the 1841 census is in Enderby Leicestershire at the home of Sarah Murby aged 75 of Independent means. Henry is also of independent means. Sarah Murby aged 78 died in October 1841 at Enderby - research continues. Jane is at her father's home in Hall Street, Spalding.
By 1846 Henry was residing in Spalding and in business as a printer, bookseller and auctioneer [g] It was about then that he was persuaded by his friend John Gardiner [founder of the Wisbech Advertiser] to publish a Spalding newspaper, The Spalding Free Press and Eastern Counties' Advertiser. The first edition came out on 5th October 1847. In the early years Henry was proprietor, editor and reporter.[g]
The Stamford Mercury dated 6th November 1846 carried the following advertisement:
In 1851, Henry was the subject of Libel proceedings taken out by the Swain family of Boston on account of an article published in the Lincolnshire Free Press. Henry published a public apology in the London Times and undertook to pay 50 pounds to Mr Swain. The witness to Henry's letter was John Hewitt, Surgeon [the brother of his wife, Jane.]
1851 Census: Henry and Jane with daughters Lina and Catherine both aged 1 are residing at Market Place, Spalding with servant Ann Everett. This entry caused some researchers to believe Lina and Catherine were twins.
1851 15th December: Henry and brother in law John Hewitt are involved in what the Stamfor Mercury calls "A Disgraceful Affair"
1852, Henry is listed as a Steward of the Printers Pension Society.[e]
1856 Henry moves his shop and printing office into new premises in Hall Street, Spalding, previously occupied by Mr Hewitt, surgeon.
1859, Henry is advertising two of 'Fitzball's' publications, Michael Schwartz and A House To Let. Edward Fitzball was Henry's maternal uncle, [Edward Ball] a well known Dramatist and Playwrite. In his autobiography "Thirty Five Years Of A Dramatic Author's Life" Edward makes mention of his nephew Henry:
1859, wife Jane is advertising 'Old Doctor Hewitt's Ague Draughts' made from the original recipe given to her by her father Richard Hewitt. Henry is also advertising 'Old Doctor Hewitt's anti-wind pills'. "My nephew, a young gentleman of considerable abilities, Mr Henry Watkinson, editor and proprietor of a leading country journal, .... amused himself by reading a little poem I had inadvertently written from observation, in the street where I lived called The House To Let, was so much struck by the story was so much struck with the story as to enquire what I was to do with it. ...He requested to print it in his journal: he did so and from which it was transferred into so many papers that eventually he published in the form of a volume with a number of other stray pieces..."
1861 Census: Henry and Jane are resisind at Hall Street Spalding with daughters Lina M and Catherine M both 11, Mary L F aged 6 and Ann B aged 2 and servant Martha Leary.
1864 30th July: Cambridge Independent Press reports Henry was invited to speak at the Baptist Chapel, Burwell on the importance or Sunday School [Landbeach - Sunday School Anniversary]
1867, Sir John Trollop, on behalf of Henry, petitioned the House of Commons to make amendments to the Law regarding Libel [e]
1868 Good Friday, Henry gave 'a very excellent discourse' on the crucifixion and a second discourse in the evening on 'Gods love to man" at the new Methodist Chapel, Deeping St Nicholas [Stamford Mercury 17th April 1868]
The Post Office Directory of 1861 and Whites directory of 1872 list Henry as: "bookseller, stationer, printer, etc, patent medicine vendor, newsagent, pianaforte and music seller, paperhanging dealer,emigration and general agent and proprietor and publisher of Lincolnshire, Boston and Spalding Free Press, 5 Hall Place, Spalding."
The 1871 census shows Henry and Jane living in Hall Street with servant Mary Cole. Henry becomes a director of the Spalding Waterworks Company.
1874 Henry entered into a partnership with chief reporter Walter Crust, aged 25, who became editor of the newspaper.
Death: Jane died on 29th August 1874 at hall Street, Spalding aged 53. Cause of death was "chronic bronchitis, congestion of the liver and disordered stomach -certified" Elizabeth Willson of 6 Abbey Path, Spalding was the informant and present at the death. She made her mark in place of signing. A death notice appeared in the London Times :
On 29th ult in Hall Street Spalding, after a protracted illness, born with the most patient resignation, Jane the affectionate and well beloved wife of Henry Watkinson, proprietor and editor of the Spalding free Press, South Holland and Eastern Counties Advertiser, and the only surviving daughter of the late Richard Hewitt, surgeon and sister of the late John Hewitt, surgeon. [ The London Times, Thursday, Sep 03 1874; pg 1; Issue 28098; col A]
1881 Census Henry is living in number 2&3 Market Place, New Sleaford with housekeeper Sarah Ann Street.
1882 Henry along with Walter Crust took a trip to America. Their visit is recorded in the National Republican Newspaper dated 6th November 1882: A Distinguished Journalist Henry Watkinson of Sleaford, Spalding and Petersborough England who founded the world-wide circular Lincoln, Boston and Spalding Free Press in 1847 and who is also the proprietor of the Sleaford gazette and other English newspapers is in the city. He paid a visit to the White House on Saturday. Mr Watkinson has travelled for the last three months throughout the country accompanied until lately by his partner Mr Walter Crust, a young gentleman of great promise who had written several articles relative to American progress that attracted much attention. Mr Crust died of fever in New York a few weeks since - a loss which Mr Watkinson keenly felt.
During the trip to the United States in 1882 Walter Crust died suddenly aged 33 and Henry once again became the sole proprietor of the newspaper.
2nd December 1882: Gratham Journal reports henry has returned home on the steamship 'British Crown' docking in Liverpool and arrived in Spalding via the mail train.
April 1883: Henry presents a lecture "My Tour in the United States" to raise money for the new Sleaford town library. 'The lecturer gave full details of the incidents in connection with the crossing of the Atlantic by the steamship The Gallia and also related his experiences in New York'
September 1883: Henry sells the Sleaford Gazette and associated businesses to Robert Sampson [Grantham Journal 6th Oct. 1883]
In 1885 Henry, is recorded as being one of the people who gave support to Florence Balgarnie when she spoke in Spalding on women's suffrage. [The women's suffrage movement in Britain and Ireland: a regional survey By Elizabeth Crawford page 72]
In 1889 Henry became the Chairman of the Spalding Waterworks company on the death of previous chairman Cannon Moore.
By 1891 Henry is once again back at 5 Hall Place, the office of Spalding Free Press with servant Betsy Stark. Henry had also been proprietor of the Sleaford Gazette which he sold about 1885. He was a member of the Spalding Gentlemen's Club, he was a director of the Sleaford Waterworks Company, a manager of the Spalding Savings Bank and a member of the Hundred of Elloe Lodge of Freemasons. [g]