Salt in the Tudor & Stuart Period
By the Tudor & Stuart periods the population of England had returned to the level preceding the Black Death. Salt was still brought to London from coastal salt pans of France and Southern England but by the 16th century a considerable quantity of salt came from Scotland where cheap coastal coal was evaporating seawater in iron pans.
Elizabeth, in the 1560′s, seeking to emulate the Scottish practice granted a patent for the use of new types of iron pan that would give the Tyneside salter a market advantage over the imported salt. Although unsuccessful, subsequent Tudor & Stuart administrations were to make repeated attempts to stimulate the coastal salt making so that all English salt needs would come from English and Scottish sources. By the 17th century this involved negotiation with the Salters Company which had been now joined by the salt traders of the main East and South coast salt towns.
The Cheshire Salt Industry
Meanwhile the Droitwich and Cheshire inland salt industry had continued to supply the inland area of the North and West and had minimal impact on the London market. The fine salt produced by boiling brine in lead pans was considered less suitable for fishery use than the coarse sea salts and with the high cost of land carriage it was no doubt unable to meet London prices.
Another problem facing the Cheshire salt industry was the growing shortage of coppiced timber to fuel the fires for salt making. An increasing population demanded more agricultural land and the managed coppice woodland was also at a premium due to a competing demand for wood to produce the charcoal needed by the iron industry which had migrated into Cheshire from the south.