This county was created by act of Legisilature in September, 1744, from a part of Goochiand County. The act of establishment ordained its existence to begin tile first of January, 1745, and the reason alleged was tile "divers inconveniences attending the upper inhabitants of Goochland by reason of their great distance from tile courthouse and other places usually appointed for public meetings."
Its present length is 35 miles, its mean width 20, and its area 700 sq. miles, but the original boundaries of Albemarle embraced the county of Buckingham, parts of Appomattox and Campbell, and the counties of Amherst, Nelson and Fluvanna, the Blue Ridge being the western line. The northeastern portion of the present County remained in Louisa sixteen years longer, and there is a tradition that this later re-adjustment of boundaries was the result of political rivalry-Dr. Thomas Walker of Castle Hill (which lies in the region ceded,) and William Johnson of Louisa, ancestor of Chapman Johnson, finding one county too small for their conflicting ambitions.
In accordance with a custom already begun of commemorating the Governors of the Commonwealth, the name of Albemarle was given to the new county from the title of William Anne Keppel, second Earle of Albemarle, who was Governor-in-Chief of Virginia from 1737 to 1754. This nobleman probably was never in America, as no record of such a visit exists. A godchild of Queen Anne, as his second name commemorates, he was a gallant soldier and successful statesman, having served as Lord Justice of the Realm and Embassador to France. He died in middle age, a Knight of the Garter, and the father of fifteen children. In his brilliant and crowded life, we may suppose that the giving of his title to a back-woods county appeared to him more of a condescension than an honor.
The organization of the county took place in February, 1745, doubtless on tile plantation of Mrs. Scott,<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1
Widow of Edward Scott, who in 1732 had patented 550 acres "at a place called Totier." Woods' Hist. of Alb."> near tile present Scottsville. Those present were Joshua Fry, Peter Jefferson, Allen Howard, William Cahell, Joseph Thompson and Thomas Ballou. The oaths taken were those of a Justice of the Peace, and a Judge of a Court of Chancery, and the Abjuration and Test oaths were subscribed-the former renouncing allegiance to the House of Stuart, and the latter affirming the receiving of the Sacrament according to the Church of England.
Scottsville, or Scott's Ferry, as it was originally called, was, until the advent of the railroad, the most important settlement in the County. Even at this early date its natural advantages had attracted the pioneers, who found in its smooth water and sheltering hills a promising location. Then, too, it commanded a wide view of the adjacent low-grounds, and of the James for several miles. This, at a time when the river was the thoroughfare for hostile Indians or undesirable settlers, was of the first importance.<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2
For our information about Scottsville we are indebted to the kindness of Miss Nannie M. Hill of that place."> Thus it was natural that the first courthouse should have been placed at Scott's Ferry. Here a courthouse, prison, stocks and pillory were erected, and their location is still pointed out, about a mile west of the present Scottsville, on the estate originally called Belle Grove, but since 1822 known as Valmont; now the property of Hon. D. H. Pitts. It was ordered that this building should be an exact copy of the Goochland courthouse, which, as recorded in the Goochland Order Book No. 2, was "thirty-six feet long and twenty feet wide from outside to outside." The cost of the Goochland building was ten thousand pounds of tobacco in Cask. It is said that the tenant's house at Valmont is the Old Courthouse, which was partly demolished and changed to a dwelling (but with the use of the original timbers), a few years after the Revolutionary War.
In accordance with the laws of the Colony, there were at once selected nine magistrates, "of the most honest and discreet inhabitants," who acted without reward. These magistrates had jurisdiction both civil and criminal. If the question before them was one of law only, they decided on it themselves, but if it was of fact, it must be referred to a jury.<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3
The old County Court system of Virginia, which existed down to 1850, was a peculiarly successful method of administering justice with dignity, probity, and freedom of expense. The magistrates were selected by character and standing, and generally deserved the confidence which they inspired. With energy and conscientious care they discharged their duties, and achieved a fine record in their judicial decrees. "These decisions were not often reversed; and it happened more than once that they were sustained by the Court of Appeals against the counter-adjudications of such eminent jurists as Archibald Stuart and Lucas P. Thompson." The best names in Albemarle appear and re-appear in the annals of the Bench. Mr. Jefferson was elected to this office, but owing to his protracted abseuces there is no record of his having actually served. Monroe, however, in 1799, sat regularly. Woods' History of Albemarle County."> That they were not slack in the discharge of duty is indicated by the following reports:<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4
Copied by Dr. Woods from the Court Records.">
"Eleanor Crawley was sentenced to receive fifteen lashes on her bare back, well laid on, for stealing linen of the value of eleven pence-a little over fifteen cents-and Pearce Reynolds to receive twenty-one for stealing a handkerchief of the same value. James, a negro of William Cabell, for stealing twelve pence, was burnt in the hand and given thirty-nine lashes at the whipping post. The Grand Jury presented George McDaniel for profane swearing-two oaths in two months."
Woods' History of Albemarle; Hardesty's Hist. & Geog. Enc.