Virginia Counties: Formation of


Research Status:  Ongoing

An excellent book on the formation and evolution of Virginia counties, a matter of persistent relevance to most North Carolina family researchers, is:  Martha W. Hiden, HOW JUSTICE GREW: VIRGINIA COUNTIES: AN ABSTRACT OF THEIR FORMATION [Charlottesville, VA: The University Press of Virginia, c. 1950, 1973] 101pp.

“The formation of Dickenson County in 1880 completed all the local organizations authorized by the Virginia Assembly from 1634 to the present, though in many counties minor changes in bounds have been enacted from time to time.” page 77.

The major headings of the book are:

The Four Corporations, page 1.

The Eight Original Shires, page 3.

The Colonial Courts, page 7.

”Justice Accessible to All.” County Division Begins: 1636, page 10.

Indian District Chickacoan Becomes Northumberland, page 11.

Northumberland Divided: 1651, page 12.

New Tidewater Counties,: 1651, page 13

The Northern Neck and The Eastern Shore Divide, Page 14.

The Colony Prospers Under A King and Queen and Two New Counties Honor the Royal Family: in 1691 King and Queen County created and Princess Anne County, honoring the second daughter of James II, page 17.

Brunswick and Migration Southward, page 21.

Orange County reaches to the Mississippi, page 23.

Cumberland, Culpepper, Southampton and Chesterfield Created, 1749, page 27.

“Westward-Ho” Twenty-Six New Counties, 1750 – 1770.

Botetourt, 1770 Honors a Popular Colonial Governor, page 34.

Frederick Subdivided, page 34.

Dunmore Renamed Shenandoah, page 35.

Fincastle Reaches to the Ohio River, page 36.

Virginia Counties Extended to the Ohio River and Include Kentucky, page 36.

Kentucky a Virginia County, 1776, page 37.

West of the Ohio and to the Mississippi, Illinois County Formed, page 41.

Kentucky County Divided, page 41.

Deed of Cession.  Virginia Gives the Northwest Territory, page 43.

1790 – 1800 Expansion in the First Decade After the Revolution, page 46.

The New Century Brings Six New Counties, 1800 – 1810, page 50.

1810 – 1820, Development Continues, Five New Counties, page 53.

1820 – 1830 Transportation and Communications Improve, Four New Counties, page 54.

1830 – 1840 Large Increase in Population Necessitates Fourteen New Counties, page 56.

1840 – 1850 Flood Tide, Sixteen New Counties, page 65 .

1850 – 1860 Ebbing Tide, Twelve Counties, page 70.

1860 – 1870 Recession, Two Counties, page 75.

Finis – One County, page 76.


Daniel, J. R. V.,  A HORNBOOK OF VIRGINIA HISTORY, (Richmond, 1950)

Robinson, Morgan P., VIRGINIA COUNTIES, BULLETIN OF THE VIRGINIA STATE LIBRARY, Volume 9, Nos. 1, 2, 3. 1916.

Settlement Map along the James River on page 4.

Between pages 14 and 15 are:

Photo of the King William County Courthouse, King William, Virginia on page 15.

Photo of Hanover County Courthouse, Hanover, Virginia

Photo of the Isle of Wight County Clerk’s Office, Isle of Wight, Virginia

Between pages 22 and 23 are:

Photo of Lancaster County Clerk’s Office, Lancaster, Virginia.

Photo of the Essex County Clerk’s Office, Tappahannock, Virginia

Photo of the Richmond County Clerk’s Office, Warsaw, Virginia

Genealogical Charts of County Evolution in Virginia from pages 83 – 87.

Inside the book’s backcover is a large, foldout map of Virginia counties in 1671 that identifies their exact physical location.