Droitwich Worcestershire Universal British Directory 1791

Droitwich is an ancient borough-town situate on the river Salwarp; it is a corporate bailiwick, and has four churches, though only three of them are made use of. It is distant from London ninety-five measured miles, from Worcester seven, Bromsgrove six, Kidderminster twelve, and Alcester twelve. It sends two members to parliament.
This borough is governed by a recorder, town-clerk, two serjeants at mace, two third-boroughs, and a crier. The right of election is in two bailiffs, the recorder, and eleven burgesses, who are stiled the corporation of the salt-springs of Droitwich. This place is under the influence of Lord Foley and Sir Edward Winnington, bart. the latter of whom derives it from the family of Salway, of Stanford, in this county, and is now one of its members; the other is the hon. Andrew Foley, second brother to Lord Foley. Sir Herbert Packington has also an interest in this borough, but not sufficiently strong to oppose the present members. This borough having sent to all the parliaments of Edward I and 2, 4, Edward II ceased sending till Philip and Mary restored it in 1554. It was originally incorporated by King John, and afterwards by charter of inspeximus of James the First. The Number of voters is fourteen. The bailiffs are the returning officers.
Droitwich Salt Workers
The town consists of about four hundred houses, chiefly inhabited by poor people. The principal manufacture carried on here is making fine white salt, which is far the finest and whitest in all Europe. In Domesday-book it is said, that every week, in the season of wealing, they paid off a tax of sixteen bullions; which is sufficient to prove, that salt was made here long before the Conqueror’s survey was compiled. Mention is also made, in the reign of King Athelstan, the salt produced in this town.
The brine-pits here are immense, and continually running over, owing to the greatness of the springs. The brine is supposed to be the strongest ever known, containing about 1-4th salt, while those of Nantwich in Cheshire yield only 1-6th; and those of Weston in Staffordshire only 1-9th part. This last indeed is the weakest brine commonly boiled in England; but in Germany, and other places, where salt is scarce, they work the springs whose water is not higher impregnated than common sea-water, containing about 3-40ths salt. Here we may observe, that sea-water, brine-springs, and rock-salt, generally contain, besides common salt, various other earthy and saline ingredients, such as calcareous earth, magnesia, Epsom salts, selenites, Glauber’s salts, fixed alkali uncombined with any acid, &c. These substances are foreign to the nature of salt, and injure its quality; and hence is must appear, that common salt may have very different properties, according to the quality of the water from which it is made, or the skill of the salt-maker in separating those heterogeneous substances from it.
At Droitwich the brine is pumped out of the pits chiefly with horses by engines (though at some of the small pits it is pumped up by men) into large reservoirs, from which there are trees laid to the different salt-works; then they only have to turn a large brass cock to let the brine run into the pans in which it is boiled. These pans are of wrought iron, from fourteen to twenty-four feet long, from twelve to twenty feet wide, and from two to two feet and a half deep. One pan of brine will take about fifteen or twenty hours boiling and will make from 15 cwt. to one ton of salt. The brine regularly boils and simmers to salt, which falls to the bottom of the pans, and is then raked out and put into wooden barrows or baskets made oval, then carried into a stove to dry, which it does in about forty hours, after which it is fit for use.
The following artificial method of promoting the evaporation of sea-water, (when there is not sufficient heat of weather to perform it quick enough) and to preserve the brine in the pits from being diluted with rain, is the discovery of Dr. Brownrigg, and we hope will not appear misplaced under this article. A number of salt-pits should be made in a row in the marsh, from East to West, and their bottoms lined with plaister, or some strong cement, that will not easily break up; and, by this caution, the salt may be drawn white and pure like the Portugal kind, not grey like the French. Over each pit covers should be made of thin boards, or rather of canvas painted white, and stretched on frames of wood, and these should be fixed to strong posts, erected on the North side of the pits, and contrived to be easily drawn back to them, in the manner of draw-bridges. These covers, thus fixed, may be let down over the pits, in manner of a shed or penthouse, in rainy weather, to keep the brine from being diluted with fresh water; and in dry weather they may be raised almost to a perpendicular, but inclining a little toward the South, so as to form a wall with a South aspect; and thus they would serve for a double use, being a covering to the pits in rainy weather, and reflectors of the sun’s heat in dry weather. The reflection of so large a body of the sun’s rays, in the course of a bright day, would greatly promote the evaporation of the brine; and the hinges, on which the reflectors turn, being placed at ten inches from the ground, when the reflectors stand upright, there will be a space under them, through which the air will continually flow in a brisk current, and this will greatly promote the evaporation of the water.
The passages of communication between the pits must be narrow and winding, and must he wholly stopped up in wet weather, that no fresh water run into the brine. This channel should be covered also with boards; and, at the entrance of the pits, there must not be a pond, as is the custom in France, but only a narrow covered trench, running parallel with the side of the pits, which is opposite to the reflectors; and the pond, which forms the entrance of the pits in the French salt marshes, must in these be detached from them, and instead of it there must be formed a fourth brine-pond, communicating with the third by a long and narrow channel.
If these contrivances should be reduced to practice in England, the salt will probably chrystallize much faster there than in the French marshes, and the brine may be kept as deep and even deeper than in the French pits; and a shower of rain will only retard the work for the small time in which it is falling; whereas, in the French works, it throws them back three or four days, as no salt can be formed till all the water it brought be evaporated.
Four cisterns may be dug adjoining to the brine-pits, to admit the brine in the salt-ponds, when the weather is very rainy; and, as to the salt-water in the reservoir, if it should be found necessary to preserve it from rain in cisterns, when so much rain falls as to make it fresher than sea-water, it may be let out, and sea-water admitted in its place. And, in order to promote the evaporation, and to make the salt-water in the reservoir fitter to supply the first brine-pond with brine of due strength, it may be proper, by means of a small fire-engine, continually to force up the salt-water in the reservoir, as often as occasion requires, and, by means of diverger, fitted to the engine, to make it descend again into the reservoir, like a shower of rain; by which means the evaporation of the watery vapours will be greatly promoted, after much the same manner as is practised at several of the salt-works in Germany, where the brine in very weak.
Thus, by augmenting the force of the sun’s heat, and of the air, by promoting the evaporation of the watery vapours, and preventing the brine from being diluted with rain, it is very probable that, during the summer season, double the quantity of salt might be prepared at an English work, with these contrivances, that is usually prepared at a French salt-marsh of equal magnitude.
Besides these methods of managing sea-water, it is certain, that very large quantities of bay-salt might be prepared in England with great ease, from the natural brine of salt-springs, and from the common fossile or rock salt of Cheshire, dissolved in weak brine, or in sea-water. Upon the whole, the bay-salt might thus be made here at moderate price, and in sufficient quantities to supply both the nation itself and all our colonies.
The following are the duties on Salt, and laws relating thereto:- The duties upon salt are under the management of a distinct office, called the Salt-office, established in 1694, subject to the direction of five commissioners, at an annual salary of 500l each, who have, by statute 1 Anne, cap. 21. the same powers, and must observe the same regulations, as those of other excises. To this office belong also a comptroller, with an annual salary of 350l deputy and clerks; a treasurer, who has for himself and clerks 430l per annum; his deputy and clerk; a secretary at 200l per annum; assistant secretary and clerk; an accomptant-general at 200l per annum, and clerk; solicitor at 150l per annum; correspondent at 100l per annum, and clerk; chief accomptant and clerk of securities at 180l per annum; two accomptants and assistant clerks; housekeeper at 100l a-year; storekeeper and clerk of the charity and diaries; collector of London port; assistance-searcher; two surveyors, &c.
By 5 W. cap. 7. a duty is laid on home salt of 1 ½ d a gallon; which, by 7 and 8 W. cap. 31. is extended to all salt made from rock-salt, salt refined, and salt made from salt. And by 9 and 10 W. cap. 44. a further duty is imposed on all such salt being estimated at 56lb to the bushel. These duties were repealed by 3 Geo. II. Cap. 20. but were revived by 5 Geo. II. Cap. 6. for three years, continued from time to time, and made perpetual by 26 Geo. II. Cap. 3. By 5 W. cap.7. there shall be paid for every gallon of foreign salt imported over 3d over and above other duties; and by 9 and 10 W. c. 44. an additional duty is laid of 7d a gallon; the same amounting in the whole to 6s. 8d. a bushel: the gallon to be rated after 8 gallons to the bushel Winchester measure; and 84lb. of foreign salt shall be deemed a bushel. 1 Anne, Stat. i. cap. 21. By 9 Anne, cap. 23. a farther duty, over and above the duty on home salt, of 9s a ton, is laid on all rock-salt exported to Ireland; and rock-salt shall be ascertained, as to payment of the duties, at 65lb weight to the bushel. By 20 Geo. III. cap. 34, an additional duty upon salt is charged, as follows: viz. for every gallon of salt imported, not being the product or manufacture of Great Britain, the sum of 2 ½ d. for every gallon of salt and rock-salt, made at any salt-works or taken out of any pit in England, 1 ¼ d for every bushel of salt, made at any salt-works or taken out of any pit in Scotland, 3d and for every bushel of salt imported from Scotland into England, 7d. By 8 Geo. III. cap. 25, foul salt, produced in the manufacturing of white salt, not fit to be applied to the curing of provisions, but which may be beneficial to agriculture, shall be charged only with a duty of 4d in a bushel. The duties on foreign salt shall be paid by the importer, on entry, and before landing; who, on giving security to the collector, shall be allowed six months for payment, or at the rate of 10l per cent. per annum, upon paying ready money. 9 and 10 W. cap. 44. Farther time is allowed, if the salt imported amounts to more than forty bushels, under certain restrictions, by 5 Anne, cap. 29. No foreign salt shall be imported in any ship of less burthen than forty tons, on pain of forfeiting the salt, and double its value, 3 Geo. II. cap. 20 and salt that is landed before payment f the duty is forfeited, and also 10s a bushel and every person assisting therein shall forfeit 100l. Obstructing an officer searching a ship incurs a forfeiture of 40l. 5 Geo. cap. 18. Importing or landing British salt in England incurs a forfeiture of the same, and also of the ship and tackle; and every person assisting forfeits 20l or is liable to six months imprisonment: which regulation is also extended to salt shipped for exportation, and put on shore again or taken out of the vessel, 1, 2, and 3, Anne, cap. 14. 5 Geo. cap. 18. The duties on rock-salt refined into white salt shall be allowed, 10 and 11 W. cap. 22. but no rock-salt shall be refined, or made into white salt, in any place, except within ten miles of the pit, &c. on pain of 40s a bushel, 1 Anne, stat. 1. cap. 21. By the same act, every maker of salt, refiner of rock-salt, and proprietor of any salt-works or pits, who shall set up or use any salt-work, pit, pan, storehouse, warehouse, &c. for making, laying, refining, or keeping, of salt, without giving notice at the next salt-office, shall forfeit 40l and the officer shall be allowed to enter and survey, under a forfeiture of 40l and obstructing the officer in his duty incurs a forfeiture of 20l Nor shall any salt be delivered form any works or pits without notice to the officer, on pain of forfeiting the same, 10s a bushel, and 20l 5 W. cap. 7. 9 and10 W. cap. 44. Any officer neglecting or violating his duty incurs a forfeiture of double the value of the salt clandestinely conveyed away and landed, and also 10s a bushel. 5 Geo. III. cap. 43. Salt shall be weighed before removal, in the presence of the salt-officer, or the proprietor shall forfeit 20l and double the value. 10 and 11 W. cap. 22. Upon entry of salt, made or imported, the officer shall give a warrant, impowering the removal of it, on paying or securing the duty in nine months; but any person, paying ready money, shall be allowed at the rate of 10 per cent per annum. 5 W. cap. 7. 5 Anne, cap. 29. The duties on rock-salt shall be paid, or security given to pay, in twelve months on pain of double value of the duties; or if they are paid within two days after the charge is made, 10l per cent per annum shall be allowed. Officers may seize salt carried before entry without a permit, which, if not claimed within ten days, shall be forfeited and sold; but, if it be claimed without evidence of entry and warrant for removing it, it shall be forfeited: and every person, who shall carry it before entry and warrant, shall forfeit double the value, and 10s a bushel. 5 W. cap. 7. 9 and 10 W. cap. 44. And by 5 Anne, cap. 21, the officer may seize and secure the offender. By 2 and 3 Anne, cap. 14, he that shall carry salt without a permit shall forfeit 20l. Permits shall be delivered gratis by the salt-officers. 7 and 8 W. cap. 31. And sight of these may be demanded. 5 Geo. III. cap. 43. The lord mayor and aldermen, in London, and justices of the peace, in the country, at their general sessions, may set and publish in writing the prices of salt, and alter the same as occasion requires; and persons refusing to sell at such price, or selling at a higher price, shall forfeit 5l half to the King, and half to the informer. 7 and 8 W. cap. 31. No person, dealing in salt, shall sell it otherwise than by weight, after the rate of 56lb to the bushel, on pain of 5l to the informer. 9 and 10 W. cap. 6. Nor shall any person buy salt otherwise than by weight, on pain of 10s a bushel. 1 Anne, stat. 1. cap. 21. No salt shall be carried coast-wise before the duty is paid or secured. 5 W. cap. 7. It shall be weighed when put on board, and a permit given, on pain of forfeiture of 10s a bushel. 10 and 11 W. cap. 22. And the cocquet, signed by the salt-officer, shall express the quantity. 1 Anne, stat. 1. cap. 11. Allowance shall be made for waste, at the rate of three bushels for forty of white salt, and one bushel and a half for forty of rock-salt. 5 Anne, cap. 29. 6 Anne, cap. 12. The officer at the unlading port may demand a sight of the permit, and weigh the salt upon unlading; and if it weighs more than the permit expresses, the surplusage shall be forfeited. There shall be a drawback of the duties on salt exported; besides an allowance of four bushels for forty of salt, and two bushels for forty of rock-salt, exported to Ireland, on account of the waste of carriage; but, if any such be relanded without entry and payment of duties, the offender shall forfeit double value and 10s a bushel, and the other penalties for foreign salt landed unentered. 5 W. cap. 7. 9 and 10 W. cap. 44. 10 and 11 W. cap 22. 5 Anne, cap. 29. The curers of fish for exportation may import foreign salt, or take from the pit or work British salt, or rock-salt refined, without duty, except the customs on importation, entering the quantity, and an account of the same being kept by the officer. 5 Geo. cap. 18. For the various regulations relating to this business, we must refer also to 8 Geo. cap. 16. 11 Geo. cap. 30 8 Geo. II. cap. 12. 19 Geo III cap. 52. By Anne, cap. 29. there shall be allowed five shillings for every barrel of salted beef or pork exported for sale; but, if such beef or pork be relanded, it shall be forfeited, and 40s a bushel. By Anne, stat. 1. cap. 21 no person shall use any brine before it is boiled into salt, or any rock-salt before it is refined, for pickling or curing flesh or fish, on pain of 40s for every gallon of brine or pound of rock-salt. See Burn’s Justice, art. Excise. There is a custom-duty in the city of London, called granage, payable to the lord mayor, &c. for salt brought to the port of London, being the twentieth part.
The annual amount of the duty on the salt made at Droitwich is from 150,000 to 200,000l which duty is paid regularly every Wednesday into the collector’s hands by the different proprietors of the salt-works. Here are a number of officers appointed by the commissioners of the salt-duties, viz. a collector, a supervisor, and a clerk for their use, about twenty officers, at a salary of 40l per annum each, whose business is to take an account of the weight of the salt weighed at the different salt-works; a number of supernumeraries and watchmen to attend vessels whilst they are loading salt, and to keep watch over the salt-works at night, to prevent the people from carrying on the practice of running salt; their salaries are from 20 to 25l a-year. The hours for the officers to attend weighing salt is from sun-rise to sun-set. The quantity of salt made here in 1772 amounted to 604,579 bushels, at the rate of 3s 6d a bushel; and in 1773 to 721,694 bushels, at 2s 11d.
This town was known to the Romans, and under the Saxons gave name to the country. It was populous in the time of the Conqueror. In 1290, St. Andrews church, and the greatest part of the town was burnt. It had great privileges from King John, some of which it still retains, and was much favoured by Henry III and other princes. The bailiff is a justice of the quorum, and a justice of the peace next year. Its recorder is also a justice. The exchequer-house was built 1580, whose windows have some curious pained glass. Here is an hospital founded in 1688.
Here is a canal, about seven miles long, which goes from this town into the river Severn at a place called Hawford, within three miles of the city of Worcester. This canal is navigable for vessels carrying from 60 to 63 tons burthen. By this canal the greatest part of the salt manufactured in this town is conveyed into the Severn, and from thence to different parts of the kingdom. This canal cost about 25,000l and brings in about 1600l per ann. By this canal also the town is supplied with coal; great quantities of which are consumed in the salt-works. The coal, which chiefly comes from Dudley, is about 12s or 12s 6d per ton.
The market is on Friday; fairs, April 13, June 18, September 22 and 24, and December 21. The market-house was built 1628.
The principal inns are, the George, White Hart, Black Boy, Star and Garter, Barley Mow, and Red Lion. Coaches are passing and repassing to and from Birmingham to Bristol every day in the week. Letters are conveyed to and from this town by the Bristol and Birmingham mail-coach, which passes through every night at eight o’clock on its way to Bristol, and every night at six o’clock on its way thence to Birmingham. The London letters are also conveyed to and from this town three times a week by the above coach to Birmingham, form whence they come and go by another mail-coach to and from Birmingham to London. There is a cross-post from Stratford-on-Avon, through Alcester, three times a week, which brings the London letters Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday, and takes them to London Monday, Thursday, and Friday, mornings, at eight o’clock, A common-carrier goes to Worcester and back three times a week.
The Birmingham wagons go through twice a week to Birmingham and Bristol; this town being in the direct road from Birmingham to Bristol.
There are several seats and small villages round this town, viz. Hadsor, the seat of the Rev. Mr. Pyndar. Hanbury, where are the seats of the Hon. Henry Cecil, and the Rev. Mr. Burslem. Goosehill, where is an excellent spa, nearly equal to that at Cheltenham. Dodderhill, the seat of the Rev. Mr. Amphlett. Hill Court, the seat of Thomas Holbecke, Esq. Wickbold, Hampton Lovett. Elmly Lovett. Elmbridge. Westwood Park, the seat of Sir Herbert Perrot Packington, Bart. where is a very large fish-pool, supposed to cover 1000 acres of land; here is also a very large and extensive park. Embersley [sic], a village, in which is the seat of the Right. Hon. Lord Sadyn. And Salwarp, where is the seat of Philip Grisley, Esq. All the above seats and villages are within five miles of the borough of Droitwich.


Bagnall Mrs.
Bedford Mrs.
Bray Mr. Henry, Bailiff of the Borough
Chance Benjamin, Gent. (F.)
Collins Mrs.
Hall Joseph, Gent. (F.)
Norbury Richard, Esq. (F.)
Philips John, Esq. (F.)
Roberts Dorothy
Roberts Sarah
Romney Ann
Taylor John, Esq. (F.)


Hayley Rev. John
Philips Rev. Richard


Essex Thomas, Surgeon
Gem James, Surgeon
Ricketts William, Apothecary


Bray Henry, (F.) Attorney
Gale Thomas, Attorney
Milner Francis, Attorney
Norbury Connisby, Attorney
Penrice Edward, (F.) Attorney
Robeson John, Attorney

Traders, &c.

Allen Frederick, Serjeant at Mace
Allen John, Cordwainer
Allen Mary, Taylor
Allen Richard, Post-master
Allen Stephen, Grocer
Allen Thomas, Land-Surveyor
Allen William, Game-keeper
Barber John, Watch-maker
Bayley Zachariah, Butcher
Bedford George, (F.) Farmer
Bedford George, Baker
Bedford Samuel, sen. Wine-vaults
Bedford Samuel, jun. Victualler
Bennett Margaret, Gardener
Bowles George, Victualler
Bowton Edward, Joiner
Boughton Joseph, Taylor
Bourne Edward, Carpenter
Bourne Humphrey, Carpenter
Bray John, Chandler
Brook John, Grocer
Brookes Thomas, Flax-dresser
Brownell James, Shoemaker
Carless Elizabeth, Milliner
Cattle Samuel, Cordwainer
Chance John, Salt-officer
Cook Richard, Grocer
Cook Robert, Grocer
Cooper Mary, Milliner
Corbitt Richard, Victualler
Corfield Richard, Victualler
Cox Thomas, Salt-officer
Davis George, Clerk in the Salt-office
Davis Thomas, Watchman
Donne John, Supernumerary
Ellis John, Navigator
Emuss John, (F.) Salt Proprietor
Farley George, Salt Proprietor
Fisher Richard, (F.) Innkeeper
Gale John, (F.) Supervisor of Salt Duties
Geeves Sarah, Innkeeper
Groom Elizabeth, Milliner & Grocer
Groom Thomas, Cooper
Grove John, (F.) Gardener
Guice William, Gardener
Gwinnell Wm. Collector of Salt Duties
Hale James, Blacksmith
Hall David, Salt-officer
Harper Henry, Salt-officer
Harris Elizabeth, Victualler
Harris John, Peruke-maker
Harrison John, Baker
Haytor Francis, Watchman
Hemmings Thomas, Taylor
Howles George, Butcher
Jacksons William, Innkeeper
Jameson James, Salt-officer
Jefferis Edward, Victualler
Jones John, Mason
Kendrick Edward, Barrow-maker
Lander Margaret, Salt Proprietor
Langford Henry, Breeches-maker
Lashford William, Staymaker
Lawrence John, Meal-man
Leaver William, Salt-officer
Leek Edward, Victualler
Manton John, Blacksmith
Morse Jakeman, Salt-officer
Nash Humphrey, (F.) Maltster
Noke Charles, Pansmith
Noke Walter, (F.) Whitesmith
Noke William, Peruke-maker
Noke William, Cooper
Onion Edward, Hair-dresser
Paine Richard, Cordwainer
Parker William, Turner
Partridge James, Victualler
Partridge William, Baker
Partridge William, Barrow-maker
Phillips Jos. (F.) Grocer
Philips Joseph, Peruke-maker
Phillips Richard, Salt Proprietor
Pitt Benjamin, Innkeeper
Powell Thomas, (F.) Baker
Price Ann, shoemaker
Price Thomas, Victualler
Priddy Benjamin, Bricklayer
Priddy Harry, (F.) Salt Proprietor
Priddy James, (F.) Builder
Prisdee James, (F.) Cordwainer
Prisdee William, Victualler
Pumphrey Charles, Brush-maker
Pumphrey John, (F.) Grocer
Pumphrey Richard, Brush-maker
Robeson Henry, Salt-officer
Ross J. Salt-manufacturer
Rowlands Edward, Salt-officer
Sabery Charles, School-master
Saint Thomas, Victualler
Skinner John, Salt-officer
Small Charles, Watchman
Smith Edward, Butcher
Smith Edward, Farmer
Smith John, Salt Proprietor
Smith Thomas, Cordwainer
Smith William, Pig-driver
Smith William, Victualler
Southall John, Cordwainer
Squires Ann, Butcher
Stanton Richard, Miller
Street Joseph, Out-rider
Taylor James, Farrier
Taylor Samuel, Tanner
Taylor William, (F.) Innkeeper
Teale Charles, Brazier
Wagstaff Samuel, Butcher
Wardall John, Glazier
Warner William, Victualler
Wedgeberrow George, Brazier
Wheelar John, Blacksmith
Williams Henry, Bricklayer

Source: Universal British Directory 1791.