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Now in the march of the slow-treading years Men build a nation; and its many states.

The origin of the names of the Northumberland group of counties is as follows:

  1. NORTHUMBERLAND 1648). In honor [of] a county, in England of same name.
  2. Lancaster (1651). From a north of England County of same name.
  3. Westmoreland (1653). In honor of an English county.
  4. Rappahannock (1656). In honor of an Indian tribe of the Powhatan confederacy. Meaning, "People of the alternative stream." (Referring to the ebb and flow of the tide in the river of that name). See No. 24.
  5. Stafford (1664). From Parish of Stafford in England.
  6. Middlesex (1673-4). In honor of an English county. The name meaning "Middle Saxons.—*Essex refers to "East Saxons," Sussex to "South Saxons," as located when they settled in England.
  7. Essex (1692). From an English county. (Derivation above*).
  8. Richmond (1692). Thought to he named on account of its terrain being similar to that around Richmond, in Surry County. England. Long states that it may have been in honor of the Duke of Richmond. ( Long, pp. 63-67 ).
  9. Spotsylvania (1721). In honor of Governor Spotswood. leader of the Knights of the Horseshoe.
  10. King George (1721). In honor of George I of England. who reigned from 1714 to 1727.
  11. Prince William (1731). In honor of the Duke of Cumberland, Prince William Augustus.
  12. Fairfax (1742). In honor of Thomas Lord Fairfax. "The most faithful of the Tories." (Long 69).
  13. Frederick (1743). In honor of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Ile was son of George IL, and father of George III.
  14. Augusta (1743). Ili honor of Princess Augusta, wife of Frederick. ( Mentioned above ).
  15. Culpepper (1749). 1n honor of Lord Culpepper. Governor of Virginia in 1680-83, Lord Fairfax inherited froth him the "Northern Neck Grant."
  16. Londoun (1757). Ili honor of John Campbell, Karl of Loudoun. He was Governor-General of the American colonies in 1756-63. Commanded the British forces in latter part of Drench and Indian War.
  17. Fauquier (1739). In honor of Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. 1738-68.
  18. Berkeley (1772). Not named in honor of Governor William Berkeley, hut of Norborne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt. He was Governor from 1768 to 1770 and was called "The good Governor of Virginia." His statue is on the campus at William and 'Mary College, Williamsburg, Va.
  19. Dunmore (1772-78). In honor of Lord Dunmore Governor of Virginia from 1771 to 1776. Dunmore was in office at outbreak of the Revolution, and his name became so odious that the name of the county was changed to Shenandoah in 1778.
  20. Shenandoah (1778). (*See above.) An Indian word meaning "Spruce Stream." Peyton in his history of Augusta says that the ward -was Sherrondo, and signified "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars." Lewis in the "First Biennial report of the Department of archives and History of the State of West Virginia," writes that Spotswood gave the river Shenandoah the name of "Euphrates" (possibly deeming that it flowed through the Garden of Eden I, but it was not to last. "The red man looking down from the mountain barrier in the reflection in its transparent water, saw the twinkling stars overhead. Thus the appellation."
  21. Madison (1793). In honor of Lames Madison. President Madison is too well-known f-or farther data to he given in this compilation.
  22. Jefferson (1780). In honor of Thomas Jefferson. (Ditto above comment.)
  23. Morgan (1820). In honor of General Daniel Morgan.
  24. Rappahannock (1833). Same derivation as No. 4. This county name having been changed b)- division into Essex and Richmond in 1692, was again bestowed to a section cut from Culpeper, formerly part of the original county in 1833.
  25. Warren (1836). In honor of General Joseph Warren, who fell at Bunker Hill.
  26. Clarke (1836). In honor of George Rogers Clark. Though an "e" has been added'.
  27. Greene (1838). In honor of General Nathaniel Greene. of Revolutionary fame.
  28. Alexandria (1837). In honor of the city of Alexandria. The cites was originally known as the town of Belle Haven, but was renamed when organized in 1748. John Alexander, owned a patent purchased from Captain Robert Howsen in 1669. The grant consisted of six thousand acres. The city, therefore, takes name from him.
  29. Hampshire (1754). Taken from Augusta. Named in honor of an English county.
  30. Botetourt (1770). (See No. 18.) From Baron de Botetourt. (See next chapter.)
  31. Monongalia (1776). From the river Monongahela. Indian word meaning, "River of crumbling banks."
  32. Ohio (1776). From the river of that name. Indian (Ohiople) meaning, "River of white caps." (See Robinson's "Virginia Counties," page 187, for fuller derivation.) The "Ohio Company" was a Virginia organization. That this section, with Illinois County, was once part of Virginia, is not generally known by Virginians of today.
  33. Yohogania (1770-1786), Indian origin. Meaning "Stream flowing in opposite direction," owing to the watershed causing the river to flow toward the west. It became extinct in 1786. Absorbed by readjustment of Pennsylvania boundary and Ohio County.
  34. Rockbridge (1778). From the celebrated Natural Bridge within its borders.
  35. Rockingham (1778). In honor of the 'Marquis of Rockingham, Prime -Minister of England in 1765-66. During his administration, the stamp act was repealed, and it was then thought that to him belonged the credit. (See Waddell's "Annals of Augusta County").
  36. Illinois (1778-84). From Illini Indians. The name is said to signify "men." It -,vas formed by act of the Virginia Assembly "for the better protection and defense of the county and its inhabitants." It was first proposed that the act be temporary. In 1781, the Virginia Assembly passed resolutions setting forth her offer to Congress of "A cession of the land's, on the northwest of Ohio, to the United States," and giving the conditions of the transfer (Hen. V. X. P. 564). The Virginia delegates to Congress, by authority of the Assembly, conveyed the right above mentioned on March 1, 1784. (Journals of Congress, 1823-24). In continuation of the origin of the names of counties formed from Augusta (itself formed from Northumberland in 1745) we find that: (No. 14, p. 162).

1789—Hardy, now in West Virginia was named in honor of Samuel Hardy one of the signers of the Deed of Cession of the Northwest Territory to the government. He -,vas long a resident of Isle of Wight County.

1789—Pendleton (now in West Virginia)-In honor of Edmund Pendleton, of Caroline, President of the Virginia Convention of 1775.

1791—Bath-In honor its medicinal springs.

1797—Brooke (in West Virginia)—In honor of Robert Brooke (Governor of Virginia 1794-1796) Grandson of Robert Brooke, who came to Virginia with Governor Spottswood in 1710.

1814—Tyler (West Virginia)—In honor of Governor John Tyler, father of the President of the salve name. Governor Tyler -,vas in office from 1808 to 1811.

1821—Pocahontas (West Virginia)—In honor of Matoaka,[1] better known by her pet name Pocahontas. which means "Little Romp" or "Little Vixen." ``hen converted to Christianity she Avas given the name of Rebecca. Pocahontas was born about 1595, and was twelve years of age when she is recorded as saving the life of Captain John Smith.[2] Pocahontas married John Rolfe, April 1613, at the age of 18. Her son, Thomas Rolfe, named in honor of Sir Thomas Dale, his godfather, was born between 1614 and 1616, prior to the visit of his parents to England where they- arrived in June 1616. Pocahontas died in 1617 (age 22) after embarking for Virginia but before the ship left England. Her son, who also came near to death's door, when the ship arrived at Plymouth en route to Virginia, was left in England and educated by his Uncle. John Rolfe, his father, married again in Virginia, and was killed in the massacre of 1622, before young Rolfe finished his education and returned to the home of his birth.

1822—Alleghany—In honor of Alleghany Mountains. The name Alleghany is derived from the pre-historic race, the Alleghi, who lived in that region prior to the coming of the Indians. They were mound builders and understood something of astronomy and geometry. Their knowledge of the making of pottery and metal implements shows them more advanced in civilization than their conquerors.

1831—Page—In honor of John Page, Governor of Virginia (1802-05).

1846—Wetzel (West Virginia)—In honor of Louis Wetzel, the famous Indian scout of Northwestern Virginia.

1847—Highland—Descriptive of the high altitude of the county.

1848—Hancock—In honor of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. His signature to the Declaration of Independence, stands out with such prominence it is familiar to all who have seen copies of that famous document.


  1. Matoaka—She plays with something.
  2. Smith, in his history of Virginia states she was only ten years old when she interceeded for him. She was twelve, but, evidently, small for her age. Thus, as the Indians gave names appropriate to the person whom it was applied, we find her nicknamed, Pocahontas—Little Romp.