The town’s history is closely associated with the house of Wejhers. In May 1643 King Wladyslaw IV consented to the establishment of a settlement called Wola Wejherowska. It was founded by the governor of Malbork Province, Jakub Wejher. As the settlement developed very quickly then only seven years later, in January 1650, King Jan Kazimierz raised Wola Wejherowska to the status of a town. This is how the only private town in Pomerania (besides Topolno, which before long lost its town status) and at the same time the last town established according to the Chelm law came into being. King Jan III Sobieski confirmed the town rights in 1696.
In order to thank God for saving his life during the battle of Biala during Polish-Russian wars, Jakub Wejher erected two shrines (St. Ann’s and the Holy Trinity churches) in the newly founded settlement. He brought in Franciscan Fathers, raised a monastery and established the Calvary of Wejherowo. The 26 chapels that the latter comprised were either created by Jakub Wejher or by his relatives and friends. It is interesting to note that the distances between these chapels are the same as the distance that Jesus Christ had to traverse to Golgotha in Jerusalem. With the foundation of the Calvary of Wejherowo, the town’s economy received a considerable and much-needed boost.
Despite numerous storms throughout its history, Wejherowo managed to retain its growth and in 1772 the town had 565 inhabitants. Following the first partition of Poland, the region of Pomerania fell under Prussian rule, at which point Wejherowo was renamed ‘Neustadt’. In the 19th century the town was continuing to develop quite rapidly due to two main factors – the establishment of the administrative district of Wejherowo in 1818 and the opening of the railway line between Gdansk and Szczecin. At that time, an increasing number of settlers began moving into the region and in Wejherowo itself. On the other hand, in the second half of the 19th century many Jewish families from Wejherowo were emigrating to Syracuse in New York, among them the famous theatrical family of the Schuberts. In 1920, after 148 years of foreign rule, Wejherowo was finally returned to the territory of Poland.
About 16,000 people were living there just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The Nazis exterminated almost entire Jewish population of the town during the war, and a number of the other local Poles shared their fate. In 1939, the village of Piasnica Wielka, located not far from Wejherowo, witnessed the mass shooting of as many as 12,000 Poles.
These days Wejherowo is a town that looks to the future and is one of the jewels of the Baltic coast.