"That solemn ground, of all America Is richest, first . . . ."

In this chapter, attention is given to the genesis of the counties of Virginia, tracing their origin from original hundreds, plantations and shires, to the counties of the present day.

For much of the information herein contained, the writer is greatly indebted to Morgan P. Robinson, State Archivist, whose contributions to Virginiana, especially the State Library Bulletin, (volume 9, Nos. 1, 2 and 3) contain valuable information, resulting from his careful research and faithful compilation.

Although Jamestown was settled in May, 1607, there was no attempt to establish any outpost until the second charter was granted in 1609. The second charter granted greater scope to the work of the London Company, and enlarged its powers of government. This year, Lieut. Percy and twenty men were sent to establish a fort at Point Comfort in order to guard' against expected attack by the Spaniards. The Fort was called Algernoune, in honor of an! ancestor of Percy (William Algernoune de Percy) who had come to England with William the Conqueror. The word "Algernoune" means whiskers," and was descriptive of William de Percy, distinguishing him from other Knights of similar name. This `vas the first outpost established by the Jamestown Colony.

In 1610, Lord Delaware established two forts (Charles and Henry) at Kicquotan (Hampton) and developed a plantation for use in acclimating colonists, arriving from England, before permitting them to settle at Jamestown or other fresh water points.

In 1611, Henricopolis and Coxendale were founded by Sir Thomas Dale, and the following year Bermuda Hundred, Charles City Hundred, Curls, Shirley Hundred and Rocksdale Hundred, here located.

Not until 1617, was there further attempt to locate other outlying plantations. The population now consisted of four hundred settlers at Jamestown and locations made at Argall's Gift, Martin's Brandon, Smith's Hundred and Weyanoke and the Parishes of "James Citty, Charles Citty, Citty of Henricus and Kicquotan" were formed from the Hundreds previously mentioned.

Flower dieu Hundred, Martin's Hundred and Maycock's Hundred were added in 1618 and the following year "Kicquotan" became Elizabeth City, by act of the first Legislative Assembly.

It may be recalled that Sir George Yeardley, in the "Orders of Government" had brought instructions to issue writs permitting the election, by the settlers, of two Burgesses from each Plantation. There were eleven Plantations or Parishes, and therefore twenty-two Burgesses were eligible for election, though two sent as representatives were declared ineligible by the "Credentials Committee." (See names of members in journal of H. of B. 1619-58.)

Such stimulation was given by the meeting of the Assembly, elected by the people, that nine additional plantations were located that year, viz.: Archer's Hope, Berkeley, Chaplin's Choice, Jordan's Journey, Warde's Plantation, Savage's Neck, Eastern Shore, and Westover, and Lawne's Plantation.

The locations were as follows:—

  1. Argall's Gift (1617)—A portion of three thousand acres selected as the Governor's Land (Argall). Extended from above Jamestown Island on the north side of the river, between Chickahominy River and Powhatan Creek.
  2. Charles City (1613)—Extended from the pale (fortified fence) running between James River and the Appomattox. (See chapter referring to Henrocopolis, p. 4-I), including Jones Neck, thence eastward on both sides of the James, to the mouth of the Chickahominy.
  3. Flower dieu Hundred (1618)-Southside of James, opposite Weyanoke. One thousand acres.

  4. Henricus (1611)—Farrar's Island (Henricopolis site) and on both sides of the James extending westward from the above-mentioned pale. No limit established for western boundary.
  5. James City (1617)—Extended down the river on both sides. On the north side it extended to Kicquotan, though Martin's Hundred the next year (1618) cut off all but present counties of James City and Warwick. On the south side it probably extended to Elizabeth River, including the territory now embraced in Surry, Isle of Wight and probably Nansemond.
  6. Kicquotan (1610)—Extended from James City Corporation,now- Elizabeth City (1619). Its eastern boundary bordered on the Chesapeake Bay.
  7. Martin's Brandon (1617)—South side of the James, west of upper Chippokes Creek. Between James City and Warde's Plantation.
  8. Martin's Hundred (1618)—North of James, east of James City and west side of Skiffes (Keith's) Creek. Contained eighty thousand acres.
  9. Smith's Hundred (Southampton) (1617)—Eighty thousand acres on the north side of the James. West of Argall's Gift. Extended from "Tanks (Tanx-little) Weyanoke to the Chickahominy.
  10. Warde's Plantation (1619)—Contained twelve hundred acres on the south side of the James, between James City and Flower dieu Hundred.
  11. Lawne's Plantation (1619)—South side of James and east of Lawrie's Creek. Taken from James City (Isle of Wight). Bounds as noted in No. 5.

In 1622 Inferior Courts were granted the several shires, and sheriffs appointed, but the growth into counties was given a great set back by the Indian Massacre of March 22nd, though the year following, (1623), the Assembly provided there should he monthly courts held at "Charles Citty and Elizabeth Citty for the decyding of suits and controversies, not exceeding the value of one hundred pounds of tobacco and for punishing petty offences." At this time there were sixteen political units represented in the Assembly, one being on the Eastern Shore,(three plantations were located on Eastern Shore)-and when the colony- was turned over to the Crown, in 1625, the population had increased to 1,227 whites; `23 negroes and ten converted Indians. At the time of the massacre, (1622) the plantations and settlements extending eastward from the falls (Richmond) were as follows: (Note—N—North side; S—South side). Beginning at Falls:—Falling Creek—S—(1621); Proctor's Plantation—S—(1620); Coxendale—S—(1611); Henricopolis—S—(1611); Rochdale Hundred—S—(1613); Curles Neck—N—(1613); Bermuda Hundred—S—(1613); Shirley Hundred—N—(1613); Piersey's Plantation—S—(1619); Charles City—S—(1613), Berkeley Hundred—N—(1619); Jordan's Journey—S—(1619); Westover—N—(1619); Woodlief's Plantation——(1619); Chaplin's Choice—S—(1619); Merchant's Hope—S—(1619); Maycock's Plantation—S—(1618); Swinyard's Plantation—N—(1619); Weyanoke—N—(1619); Flower lieu Hundred—S—(1619); Warde's Plantation—S—(1619); Smith's Hundred—N—(1617); Pace's Pains—S—(1619); Argall's Gift—N—(1617); Neck of Land—N—(1622); Archer's Hope—N—(1619) Jamestown—N—(1607); "Plantations Across the Water"—S—(1619); Lawrie's Plantation—S—(1619); Bennett's Plantation, (Warrosquyoake—S—(1621); Martin's Hundred—N—(1618); Pierce's (Rolfe's) Plantation—N—(1617); Basse's Choice—S—(1621); Water's Plantation—N—(1620); Kicoughtan—N—(1610); Buckroe—N—(1620); Point Comfort—N—(1609); Newport News (New Porte Neuse)—N—(1621); On Eastern Shore . . . . . .Yeardley's Plantation, (1621); Savage's Neck—(1619); Wilcoxe's Plantation—(1621); Dale's Gift, (on Smith's Island) (1614).

A wall-map showing these locations can be seen at the State Library, a copy being published in the Bulletin.

The political units were called hundreds or plantatations until 1634. In this year the twenty-one, then existing, were realligned, and formed into eight shires, to be governed as those in England. These shires were James City, Henrico, Charles City, Elizabeth City, Warwick River, Warrosquyoake, Charles River and Accommack. Accowmack (Indian Tribe) Present Accomac and Northampton) had a population of 396.

Charles City (named in honor of Prince Charles), had a population of 511. It extended, on both sides of the James River from Upper Chip pokes Creek to the Appomattox (on S) and from Sandy Point to Turkey Island Creek (on N).

Charles River (Later named York). Had a population of 510. It extended along York River.

Elizabeth City (named in honor of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I, first extended on both sides of Hampton Roads, along the south side of Chuchatuck<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1

Chuckituck is a compound word. Chuck-hituck. Hituck is of same derivation (as in Curituck-Curhituck) and as hatah (probably first called hituck) in Powhatah (Powhatan). The word means, as elsewhere noted, in this volume,—Fast flowing.">[1] Creek, and north side of Newport News. Its population was 1,670. (Warwick River County included.)

Henrico (named in honor of Henry, Prince of Wales, eldest son of James I) was bounded on the east by Charles City, and extended westward without boundary. Its population was 419. James City (named in honor of King James I) was located on both sides of the James River. On the south side it extended from Lawne's Creek to Upper Chippokes where it joined Charles City, and on the north side from Skiff's (Keith's) Creek to above Sandy Point. Its population was 886.

Warrosquyoake (Indian Tribe) (later Isle of Wight)—From Chuckatuck Creek, bordering Elizabeth City, to Lawne's Creek, joining James City. Population recorded as 522.

Warwick River (In honor of Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick) first included Elizabeth City County. It was bounded on the north by Elizabeth City, extending to Keith's Creek (Skiffe's) joining James City. Population 1,670.

One other original shire completes the list. This was Northumberland, formed in 1648 after settlements were made on the York, Piankitank, Rappahannock and Potomac. (See next Chapter.)

Many of the counties have been absorbed by other States, and in several instances where counties mere taken from Virginia in the formation of Kentucky, the same names were later Given to Western Virginia counties, and the count- name was lost to Virginia, the second time, by the formation of West Virginia into a State.


  1. Chuckituck is a compound word. Chuck-hituck. Hituck is of same derivation (as in Curituck-Curhituck) and as hatah (probably first called hituck) in Powhatah (Powhatan). The word means, as elsewhere noted, in this volume,—Fast flowing.