Virginia Counties


The paragraphs below name the 95 counties now in existence in Virginia and the 4 seventeenth century counties, (Elizabeth City, Norfolk, Princess Anne and Warwick), which have become extinct in recent years. The date given for the formation of each county is that of the passage of the Act of the Assembly creating the county, rather than the date of the actual beginning of county government. Often the latter event occurred in the year following that of legislative establishment. .




ACCOMACK COUNTY was named for the Indian tribe which occupied the Eastern Shore at the time of settlement. The present county of Accomack was formed from Northampton County about 1663. The county's land area is 470 square miles, and the county seat is Accomac.


ALBEMARLE COUNTY was named for William Anne Keppel, second Earl of Albemarle and Governor General of the colony from 1737 to 1754. It was formed from Goochland in I744, and part of Louisa, and certain islands in the "Fluvanna River," (now called the James), were added later. Its area is 739 square miles, and the county seat is Charlottesville.


ALLEGHANY COUNTY was named for the Allegheny Mountains, a range of which passes along the county's western boundary. It was formed from Bath, Botetourt, and Monroe (now in West Virginia) in 1822 and parts of Monroe and Bath were added later. Its area is 451 square miles, and the county seat is Covington.


AMELIA COUNTY was named for Princess Amelia Sophia Eleanora, daughter of George II of England. It was formed from Prince George and Brunswick in 1734. Its area is 366 square miles, and the county seat is Amelia.


AMHERST COUNTY was named for Major General Sir Jeffrey Amherst, British commander in North America during the latter part of the French and Indian War and Governor General of Virginia from 1759 to 1768. It was formed from Albemarle in 1761. Its area is 467 square miles and the county seat is Amherst.


APPOMATTOX COUNTY was named for the Appomattox River which rises in the county. The name was earlier borne by an Indian tribe living near the mouth of the river. The county was formed from parts of Buckingham, Prince Edward, Charlotte, and Campbell 1845, and another part of Campbell was added in 1848. Its area is 343 square miles, and the county seat is Appomattox.


ARLINGTON COUNTY was originally known as Alexandria County it was established in 1847 from that part of the District of Columbia which was ceded back to Virginia in 1846. Before being ceded to the Federal government in 1791, this area was a part of Fairfax county. The present name, given in 1920, honors Arlington, the Custis family mansion, (at one time the home of Robert E. Lee), which is located in the county. Its area is 24 square miles, and the county seat is Arlington.


AUGUSTA COUNTY was named in honor of Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, wife of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, the father George III. It was formed from Orange County in 1738, but because of the unsettled state of the region, county government was not actually established there until 1745. Its area is 986 square miles, and the county seat is Staunton.


BATH COUNTY was so called because of the many mineral springs found in the county. It was formed from Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier now in West Virginia) in 1790. Its area is 540 square miles, and the county seat is Warm Springs.


BEDFORD COUNTY was probably named for John Russell, fourth Duke of Bedford who, as Secretary of State for the Southern Department, had General Supervision over colonial affairs. It was formed from Lunenburg in 1753, and parts of Albemarle and Lunenburg were added later. Its area is 774 square miles, and the county seat is Bedford.


BLAND COUNTY is said to have been named for Richard Bland, a leader of the colony of Virginia's resistance to Great Britain. It was formed from Giles Wythe and Tazewell in 1861, and another part of Giles was added later. Its area is 369 square miles, and the county seat is Bland.


BOTETOURT COUNTY was named for Norborne Berkeley, Baron Botetourt, the royal governor who served from 1768 to 1770. It was formed from Augusta in 1769. A part of Rockbridge was added later. Its area is 549 square miles, and the county seat is Fincastle.


BRUNSWICK COUNTY was named for the duchy of Brunswick-Lineburg, one of the German possessions of King George I. It was formed in 1720 from Prince George but, because of the sparse population, county government was not organized until 1732. In the latter year Brunswick was enlarged by the addition of parts of Surrey and Isle of Wight. Its area is 579 square miles, and the county seat is Lawrenceville.


BUCHANAN COUNTY was named for President James Buchanan and was formed from Tazewell and Russell in 1858. Its area is 496 square miles, and Grundy is the county seat.


BUCKINGHAM COUNTY was probably named for the English county, but according to some sources the name came from Archibald Cary's tract of land called "Buckingham," on Willis's Creek. Its area is 576 square miles, and the county seat is Buckingham.


CAMPBELL COUNTY was named for General William Campbell one of the heroes of the Battle of King's Mountain in 1780. county was formed from Bedford in 1781. Its area is 530 square miles, and the county seat is Rustburg.


CAROLINE COUNTY was named for Caroline of Anspach, Queen of England and consort of George II. It was formed from Essex, King and Queen Co., and King William Co.in 1728, and parts of King and Queen were added later. Its area is 544 square miles, and the county seat is Bowling Green.


CARROLL COUNTY was named for Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland. It was formed from Grayson in 1842, and part of Patrick was added later. Its area is 496 square miles, and the county seat is Hillsville.


CHARLES CITY COUNTY named for Charles I of England and was one of the eight shires established in 1634. Its area is 184 square miles, and the county seat is Charles City.


CHARLOTTE COUNTY was named for Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of England and consort of George III. It was formed from Lunenburg in 1764. Its area is 468 square miles and the county seat is Charlotte Court House.


CHESTERFIELD COUNTY was named for Philip Dormer Stanhope 4th Earl of Chesterfield, British statesman and diplomat, and was formed from Henrico in 1749. Its area is 465 square miles, and the county seat is Chesterfield Court House.


CLARKE COUNTY was named for General George Rogers Clark (whose name is misspelled in that of the county), who helped win the Northwest Territory for Virginia during the Revolution. It was formed from Frederick in 1836, and part of Warren was added later. Its area is 174 square miles, and the county seat is Berryville.


CRAIG COUNTY was named for Robert Craig delegate from Roanoke County in the Virginia General Assembly, 1850-1852. The county was formed from Botetourt, Roanoke, Giles, and Monroe (now in West Virginia) in 1851, and several subsequent additions were made from Alleghany, Giles, Monroe and Montgomery. Its area is 336 square miles, and the county seat is New Castle.


CULPEPER COUNTY was probably named either for Thomas, Lord Culpeper, Governor of Virginia from 1677 to 1683, or for his family which long held proprietary rights in the Northern Neck. It was formed from Orange in 1749. Its area is 389 square miles, and the county seat is Culpeper.


CUMBERLAND COUNTY was named for William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, third son of George II. It was formed from Goochland in 1749. Its area is 288 square miles, and the county seat is Cumberland.


DICKENSON COUNTY was named for William J. Dickenson, delegate from Russell County at the time of the county's establishment. It was formed from Russell, Wise, and Buchanan in 1880. Its area is 335 square miles, and the county seat is Clintwood.


DINWIDDIE COUNTY was named for Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1751 to 1758, and was formed from Prince George in 1752. Its area is 501 square miles, and the county seat is Dinwiddie.


ELIZABETH CITY COUNTY was named for Princess Elizabeth, daughter of King James I, and was one of the eight shires established in 1634. It became extinct in 1951, when it was incorporated into the City of Hampton, which was the county seat.


ESSEX COUNTY was probably named for the English county. It was formed from Rappahannock County in 1692. Its area is 250 square miles, and the county seat is Tappahannock.


FAIRFAX COUNTY was named for Thomas, sixth Baron Fairfax, Proprietor of the Northern Neck. It was formed from Prince William in 1742. Its area is 414 square miles and the county seat is Fairfax.


FAUQUIER COUNTY was named for Francis Zauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1758 to 1768. It was formed in 1759 from Prince William. Its area is 660 square miles, and the county seat is Warrenton.


FLOYD COUNTY was named for John Floyd, Governor of Virginia from 1830 to 1834. It was formed from Montgomery in 1831, and part of Franklin was added later. Its area is 383 square miles, and the county seat is Floyd.


FLUVANNA COUNTY takes it name from an eighteenth-century term for the upper James River. The name, meaning "river of Anne," was originally bestowed in honor of (Queen Anne of England. The county was formed from Albemarle in 1777. Its area is 282 square miles, and the county seat is Palmyra.


FRANKLIN COUNTY was named for Benjamin Franklin and was formed from Bedford and Henry in 1785. Its area is 718 square miles, and the county seat is Rocky Mount.


FREDERICK COUNTY was named in honor of Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales and eldest son of George II. It was formed from Orange in 1738; but, because of the unsettled state of the region, county government was not organized until 1743. Part of Augusta was added later. Its area is 432 square miles, and the county seat is Winchester.


GILES COUNTY was named for William Branch Giles, United States Senator from Virginia at the time of the county's formation. It was formed from Montgomery, Monroe (now in West Virginia and Tazewell in 1806, and parts of Wythe, Monroe, Mercer (West Virginia), Craig, and Tazewell were added later. Its area is 356 square miles, and the county seat is Pearisburg.


GLOUCESTER COUNTY was probably named for the English county although according to one source it honored Henry, Duke of Gloucester, the third son of Charles I. lt was formed from York in 1651. Its area is 225 square miles, and the county seat is Gloucester.


GOOCHLAND COUNTY was named for William Gooch, Lieut. Governor of Virginia from 1727 to 1749. It was formed from Henrico in 1728. Its area is 289 square miles, and the county seat is Goochland.


GRAYSON COUNTY was named for Colonel William Grayson, one of the first two United States Senators from Virginia. It was formed from Wythe in 1792, and part of Patrick was added later. Its area is 451 square miles, and the county seat is Independence.


GREENE COUNTY was named for General Nathaniel Green American commander in the Revolutionary War, and was formed from Orange in 1838. Its area is 153 square miles, and its county seat is Stanardsville.


GREENSVILLE COUNTY was also named for General Greene.It was formed from Brunswick in 1780, and parts of Brunswick and Sussex were added later. Its area is 301 square miles, and the county seat is Emporia.


HALIFAX COUNTY was named for George Montagu Dunk, second Earl of Halifax, who was president of the Board of Trade from 1748 to 1761. It was formed from Lunenburg in 1752. Its area is 808 square miles, and the county seat is Halifax.


HANOVER COUNTY was named for George I, who, at the time of his accession to the English throne, was Elector of Hanover, Germany. The county was formed from New Kent in 1721. Its area is 466 square miles, and the county seat is Hanover.


HENRICO COUNTY was named for Henry, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of James I. This county was one of the eight shires established in 1634. Its area is 232 square miles, and the county seat is Richmond.


HENRY COUNTY was named for Patrick Henry. It was formed from Pittsylvania in 1776. Its area is 385 square miles, and the county seat is Martinsville.


HIGHLAND COUNTY was so named because of its mountainous terrain. It was formed from Pendleton (now West Virginia) and Bath in 1847. Its area is 416 square miles, and the county seat is Monterey.


ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY was probably named for the Isle of Wight on the coast of southern England. It was first known as Warrosquyoake and was one of the eight shires established in 1634. The present name was given in 1637. The area is 321 square miles and the county seat is Isle of Wight.


JAMES CITY COUNTY was named for James I. It was one of the eight shires established in 1634. Parts of New Kent and York were added later. Its area is 148 Square miles, and Williamsburg is the county seat.


KING AND QUEEN COUNTY was named for William III and Mary who were called to the English throne in 1688. It was formed from New Kent in 1691. Its area is 318 square miles, and King and Queen Court House is the county seat.


KING GEORGE COUNTY was named in honor of George I of England and was formed from Richmond County in 1720. Part of Westmoreland was added to the county later. Its area is 178 square miles, and King George is the county seat.


KING WILLIAM COUNTY was named for William III and was formed from King and Queen in 17O1. Its Area is 278 square mile and the county seat is King William.


LANCASTER COUNTY was probably named for the English county. It was formed from Northumberland and York in 1651. Its area is 142 square miles, and the county seat is Lancaster.


LEE COUNTY was named for Henry (Light Horse Harry) Lee Governor of Virginia from 1791 to 1794, and was formed from Russell in 1792. Part of Scott was added later. Its area is 434 square miles, and the county seat is Jonesvllle.


LOUDON COUNTY was named for John Campbell, 4th Earl of Loudon, who was commander of British forces in North America during the early part of the French and Indian War, and Governor General of Virginia from 1756 to 1759. It was formed from Fairfax in 1757. Its area is 517 square miles, and the county seat is Leesburg.


LOUISA COUNTY was named for Princess Louisa, a daughter of George II. It was formed from Hanover in 1742. Its area is 514 square miles, and the county seat is Louisa.


LUNENBURC COUNTY was named for Luneburg, one of the German possessions of England's Hanoverian kings. It was formed from Brunswick in 1746. Its area is 443 square miles, and the county seat is Lunenburg.


MADISON COUNTY was named for James Madison, then a member of Congress from Virginia. It was formed from Culpeper in 1792. Its area is 327 square miles, and Madison is the county seat.


MATHEWS COUNTY was named for Major Thomas Mathews of Gloucester County, Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. The county was formed from Gloucester in 1790. Its land area is 87 square miles, and the county seat is Mathews.


MECKLENBURG COUNTY was named, like Charlotte County, for Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, consort of George III. It was formed from Lunenburg in 1764. Its area is 665 square miles; and Boydton is the county seat.


MIDDLESEX COUNTY was probably named for the English county. It was formed from Lancaster about 1669. Its area is 132 square miles, and the county seat is Saluda.


MONTGOMERY COUNTY was named for General Richard Montgomery, who was killed in the American assault on Quebec late in 1775. It was formed from Fincastle in 1776, and parts of Botetourt and Pulaski were added later. Its area is 395 square miles, and Christiansburg is the county seat.


NANSEMOND COUNTY was named for the Nansemond River which flows through the county, or for the Nansemond Indians who were living in the area in the early seventeenth century. When first established in 1637, the county was known as Upper Norfolk. The present name was adopted in 1646. Its area is 402 Square miles, and the county seat is Suffolk.


NELSON COUNTY was named for Thomas Nelson, Governor of Virginia from June to November, 1781. It was formed in 1807 from Amherst. Its area is 468 square miles, and the county seat is Lovingston.


NEW KENT COUNTY was probably named for the English county Kent. Colonel William Claiborne, a native of Kent, was a prominent resident of the Virginia county at the time of its formation. New Kent County was formed from York about 1654. Its area is 221 square miles, and its county seat is New Kent.


NORFOLK COUNTY was probably named for the English county. It was formed from Lower Norfolk in 1691. Norfolk County became extinct in 1963, when it was consolidated with the City of South Norfolk to form the City of Chesapeake. The county seat was Portsmouth.


NORTHAMPTON COUNTY was named, most probably, for the English county, of which Colonel Obedience Robins, a prominent early resident of the Eastern Shore, was a native. The county, which originally included all of the peninsula south of Maryland and which is one of the eight shires established in 1634, was first called Accomack. The name was changed by legislative action in 1643. Its land area is 226 square miles, and the county seat is Eastville.


NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY was probably named for the English county. It was formed about 1645 from the district of Chickacoan which was the name given during the early seventeenth century to the area between the Potomac and the Rappahannock. Its land area is 200 square miles, and its county seat is Heathsville.


NOTTOWAY COUNTY was most probably named for the Nottoway River, which in turn was named for an Indian tribe living along it during the early seventeenth century. It was formed from Amelia in 1788. Its area is 308 square miles, and the county seat is Nottoway.


ORANCE COUNTY, according to most accounts, was named for William of Orange, the Dutch prince who became William III of England in 1688. It is more probable, however, that the name honored William IV, Prince of Orange-Nassau, who married Princess Anne, eldest daughter of George II, in 1734. Orange County was formed from Spotsylvania the same year. Its area is 354 square miles, and the county seat is Orange.


PAGE COUNTY was named, according to most sources, for John Page, Revolutionary patriot, Congressman, and Governor of Virginia from 1802 to 1805. It Was formed from Rockingham and Shenandoah in 1831. Its area is 3I6 square miles, and the county seat is Luray.


PATRICK COUNTY, like Henry County, was named for Patrick Henry. It was formed from Henry County in 1790. Its area is 469 square miles and the county seat is Stuart.


PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY was named in honor of William Pitt, the great English statesman. It was formed from Halifax in 1766. Its area is 1,022 square miles, and the county seat is Chatham.


POWHATAN COUNTY was named for the Indian chieftain. It was formed from Cumberland in 1713, and part of Chesterfield was added late. Its area is 268 square miles and the county seat is Powhatan.


PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY was named for Prince Edward Augustus, a son of Prince Frederick Louis and a grandson of George II. It was formed from Amelia in 1753. Its area is 357 square miles, and the county seat is Farmville.


PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY was named for Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne of England. It was formed from Charles City in 1702. Its area is 284 square miles, and the county seat is Prince George.


PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY was named for Prince William Augustus- the third son of King George II. It was formed from Stafford and King George in 1730. Its area is 347 square miles, and the county seat is Manassas.


PRINCESS ANNE COUNTY was named for Princess Anne, daughter of James II, who later ascended the throne as Queen Anne. The county was formed from Lower Norfolk in 1691, and became extinct in 1963, after its consolidation with the City of Virginia Beach. The county seat was Princess Anne.


PULASKI COUNTY was named for Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish patriot who served in the American army during the Revolutionary War and who was killed during the siege of Savannah. It was formed from Montgomery and Wythe in 1839. Its area is 331 square miles, and the county seat is Pulaski.


RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY was named for the Rappahannock River. There have been two counties named Rappahannock. The first was created from Lancaster in 1656 and became extinct in 1692 when it was divided into Essex and Richmond counties. The present county was formed from Culpeper in 1833. Its area is 167 square miles, and the county seat is Washington.


RICHMOND COUNTY was probably named for the borough in the county of Surrey in England. It was formed from Rappahannock in 1692. Its land area is 192 square miles, and the county seat is Warsaw.


ROANOKE COUNTY was named for the river. The county was formed from Botetourt in 1838, and a part of Montgomery was added later. Its area is 276 square miles, and Salem is the county seat.


ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY was named for Natural Bridge, which is located in the county. The county was formed from Augusta and Botetourt in 1778, and another part of Botetourt was added later. Its area is 604 square miles, and the county seat is Lexington.


ROCKINGHAM COUNTY was named for Charles Watson-Went worth, second Marquis of Rockingham, who supported the colonies in their disputes with Great Britain. It was formed from Augusta in 1778. Its area is 869 square miles, and the county seat is Harrisonburg.


RUSSELL COUNTY was probably named for William Russell, hero of the Battle of King's Mountain. The county was formed from Washington in 1786. Its area is 483 square miles, and the county seat is Lebanon.


SCOTT COUNTY was named for General Winfield Scott, a native of Virginia, in recognition of his victories during the War of 1812. It was formed from Lee, Russell and Washington in 1814. Area is 539 square miles, and the county seat is Gate City.


SHENANDOAH COUNTY was named for the river. The county was first named Dunmore, in honor of the governor, when it was formed from Frederick in 1772. The present name was given in 1778. Its land area is 507 square miles, and the county seat is Woodstock.


SMYTH COUNTY was named for General Alexander Smyth, a Congressman from Virginia at the time of the county's establishment. It was formed from Washington and Wythe in 1832. Its area is 435 square miles, and the county seat is Marion.


SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY Was named, in the opinion of many au- ities, for Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, and treasurer of the London Company, from 1620 to 1624. It is more likely, however, that the county was named for the borough of Southampton in England. Southampton County was formed in 1749 from Isle of Wight, and part of Nansemond was added later. Its area is 607 square miles, and the county seat is Courtland.


SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY was named for Alexander Spotswood Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1710 to 1722. It was formed from Essex, King William, and King and Queen in 1720. Its area is 413 square miles, and the county seat is Spotsylvania.


STAFFORD COUNTY was named for the English county. It was formed from Westmoreland in 1664. Its area is 271 square miles and the county seat is Stafford.


SURRY COUNTY was named for the county of Surrey in England, was formed from James City about 1652. Its area is 280 square miles, and the county seat is Surry.


SUSSEX COUNTY was named for the English county, and was formed from Surry in 1753. Its area is 496 square miles and the county seat is Sussex.


TAZEWELL COUNTY was named for Henry Tazewell, United States Senator from Virginia from 1794 until his death in 1799. It was formed from Wythe and Russell in 1799, and parts of Logan (West Virginia), Russell, Wythe, and Washington were added later. Its area is 522 square miles, and the county seat is Tazewell.


WARREN COUNTY was named for Dr. Joseph Warren, Revolutionary War patriot of Boston who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was formed from Shenandoah and Frederick in 1836. Its area is 219 square miles, and Front Royal is the county seat.


WARWICK COUNTY was named either for Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick, a prominent member of the London Company, or for the county of Warwick in England. The county was originally called Warwick River Co. and was one of the eight shires formed in 1634. The shorter name was given in 1643. Warwick County became extinct in 1952, and the territory it comprised is now contained within the consolidated City of Newport News. Denbigh was the county seat.


WASHINGTON COUNTY was the first locality in the United States known to have been named for George Washington. It was formed from Fincastle in 1776, and a part of Montgomery was added later. Its area is 579 square miles, and the county seat is Abingdon.


WESTMORELAND COUNTY was named for the English county. It was formed from Northumberland in 1653, and part of King George was added later. Its area is 236 square miles, and the county seat is Montross.


WISE COUNTY was named for Henry Alexander Wise, Gover nor of Virginia from 1856 to 1860. It was formed in 1856 from Lee, Scott, and Russell. Its area is 414 square miles, and the county seat is Wise.


WYTHE COUNTY was named for George Wythe, a signer of Declaration of Independence and, at the time of the formation of the county, Chancellor of Virginia. It was formed from Montgomery in 1789, and part of Grayson was added later. Its area is 460 square miles, and the county seat is Wytheville.


YORK COUNTY was originally named Charles River, and was one of the eight shires formed in 1634. The present name was given in 1643, probably in honor of James, Duke of York, the second son of Charles I. Its area is 123 square miles, and the county seat is Yorktown.





Source material:

A HORNBOOK OF VIRGINIA HISTORY

Virginia State Library

1965.

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