In the 1841 census, in the parish of the Liberty of Saffron Hill lived Henry Adlard and his household. A liberty was an archaic term for an area of land which had once been held by a mesne lord – a title left over from feudal times. No doubt in 1841 there would have been different thoughts attached to it, but looking back from our twenty-first century point of view it sounds rather lovely, the Liberty of Saffron Hill. The are was so named because as you might guess it was where saffron grew – in a similar way that Saffron Walden acquired its name.
Henry and his wife Mary’s family consisted of his children, Henry junior, Clara, Edwin, Albert, James and young Mary. Henry was a printer and engraver and I first came across his work in my old 1855 edition of Eliza Acton’s Modern Cookery book. In 1841 Henry’s profession was not included on the census return, but ten years later, when the family had moved north to Tottenham, less than ten miles away. Three other children appear on the 1851 census, Thomas, a printer for his father, Emily and Louisa, and still living at home is James, an engraver & lithographer, and Edwin who is a clerk in a warehouse.
Ten years elapse, the family have moved again to Spencer Terrace in Islington, and Henry’s print works have grown to employ thirty-six men and a boy, and Henry himself is a historical engraver and printer. He is now sixty years old, and still has some of his children at home with him and Mary, Clara, Harrison and young Mary – actually not so young, she is now thirty-seven years old.
For some reason Henry and Mary do not seem to appear on the 1871 census, but in 1881, old Henry, now a widower lives with his daughter Mary Ann and he is an engraver artist. I am not certain, but it seems as if Adlard died in 1893. There seems very little biographical detail written about him, although his work, engravings and prints are very well-known.
… engraver artist