Chesham in 1836
Chesham is a market town, in the hundred of Burnham, to the right of the road from London to Aylesbury, 29 miles from London through Amersham, or about 26 through Watford and Rickmansworth. It has a market on Wednesday, and three fairs, April 21st, July 22nd, and September 28th. The living is a vicarage, in the gift of the duke of Bedford. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a large Gothic structure. There are four Dissenting meeting-houses, most of the inhabitants being Dissenters. There is an almshouse for four poor persons, endowed by Thomas Wedon, who died 1624 ; and a free school, or national school, for the education of the children of the poor.
The town is in a pleasant and fertile valley, watered by the Chess, a branch of the Coln : it consists of three streets. The population of the parish in 1831 was 5,388 ; but from the vast extent of the parish (11,880 acres, 18 to 19 square miles), this furnishes little clue to the population of the town itself, the chief trade of the place consists in making shoes for the London market : the females are employed in the manufacture of lace and straw plat. There are some paper-mills in the neighbourhood. Formerly considerable business was done in the manufacture of turnery and coarse wooden ware, but this branch of trade seems to have declined. Of the population, 504 were employed in manufacture, trade, or handicraft.