Droitwich in 1843
Droitwich, a parliamentary and municipal borough, is situated on the small river Salwarp, 116 miles north-west from London, 6 miles north-north-east from Worcester. The town is seated in a narrow valley, through which the river flows. It contains three parishes, St. Andrew, St. Nicholas, and St. Peter, and parts of Dodderhill, Marlborough, and Salwarp. The total population of the borough in 1841 was 2,832, of whom 1,346 were males, and 1,486 were females. The number of houses was 531 inhabited, and 21 uninhabited. The entire population of the town is upwards of 3,000, a part of the town being beyond the limits of the borough, the population of which part in 1831 was 225. The population of the borough in 1831 was 2,487. The Exchequer-House, where the duties on salt are paid, is an ancient structure with stained-glass windows. There are two prisons. The living of St. Andrew, with St. Mary Wilton, is a rectory, in the gift of the crown, the average net annual income of which is £230. The living of St. Peter is a vicarage, in the gift of Earl Somers, of the average net annual value of £160.
Previous to the Municipal Corporations Act in 1835, the borough of Droitwich consisted of two bailiffs and an indefinite number of burgesses, the number of whom in 1835 was 30. The governing charter was 22 James 1. The corporation now consists of 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. The number of burgesses or municipal electors in 1837 was 229.
Previous to the Reform Act Droitwich returned two members to parliament. The greatest number of electors who had polled at any election previous to 1831 was 19. It now returns one member to parliament. The number of electors on the register in 1835-6 was 298 ; in 1839-40 the number was 357, of whom 346 were £10 householders. The parliamentary borough, which is now extended considerably beyond the limits of the municipal borough, contained in 1841 a population of 6,558.
The chief trade of Droitwich arises from its salt-springs, from which salt has been made from time immemorial, but the quantity has been much increased since about 1725, by sinking the pits to a greater depth, where the brine was found to be much saltier, and from which it rose as before to the surface. The quantity of salt now made is not less than 30,000 tons a year. The Worcester and Birmingham Canal passes by Droitwich, and communicates with the Severn.
The Romans made Droitwich one of their stations called Salinae. It is mentioned in Domesday-Book on account of the tax derived from its salt-springs. The charter of 22 James I refers to preceding charters, none of which are known to be in existence ; but a copy of a charter of King John is given in Nash's ‘History of Worcestershire,’ vol. i., . 308.