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Assembly of that year contained twenty-three burgesses,† representing without doubt the sixteen political units, which had sent burgesses to the Assembly of 1623/4,-one of which was the Eastern Shore.†
The Company defunct, James fortunately appointed good governors to look after his interests in the colony, and Sir Francis Wyatt at once took severe measures against the Indians. However, James soon died, but King Charles continued the policy of his father and gave further good government to the colony by sending as Governor, our old friend, Sir George Yeardley, who unfortunately died the following year; and in November, 1627, Captain Francis West was appointed to fill the vacancy.
The general good government of these men is reflected in the fact that many grants issued and the population of the Colony in 1628 was estimated to be three thousand souls; while the business of the courts had increased to such an extent that the next year the Commissioners of the Monthly Courts were substituted for the Commanders of Plantations as judges, and in February 1631/2, it was "ordered that the mounthlie corts be held and kept in remote parts of this colony: vizt.
ffor the upper parts; for Warwick River;
and it was also provided that "fowre quarter corts shall be held at JamesCitty yearlie";* from all of which it would seem that the population was fast scattering along the outlying water-fronts, as is further evidenced by the fact that the Assembly of September, 1632, included in its membership thirty-nine burgesses, representing twenty-five political units,§ which units must, of course, have had approximately definite metes and bounds and were so inadvertently determining the boundaries of the counties which were later to embrace their respective areas.
"In 1619, these scattered settlements [see note, above] were gathered into four large corporations with a capital city in each.
Each corporation contained one or more boroughs, and each borough was represented by two burgesses in the general assembly, for the first time called in 1619.
This system of corporations did not continue long, because the wealth of water-courses and the cultivation of tobacco provoked separation and isolation, and society became very soon distinctly agricultural and rural. As a consequence, after fifteen years, borough representation was abandoned, and the whole colony was divided into eight counties or shires." (Tyler's "Cradle of the Republic", 1906, p. 197).
Up to 1634, the political units were called hundreds and plantations,of which twenty-one were represented by thirty-two burgesses in the Assembly of February 1632-3,—no list of the burgesses attending the Assembly of August, 1633, being available at present.**
† Ibid., pp. 579-80; "Journals of the House of Burgesses" 1619-1658/59. U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n.
|| Hening, i, p. 168.
Hening, i, p. 174.
§ Ibid., pp. 178-9.
**"Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia", 1619-1658/9, pp. xiv,
"In 1634 [see Hening, i, p. 224]. The country divided into 8 shires,t which are to be governed as shires in England.
The names of these shires are‡
ACCAWMACK, "on the Eastern Shore, over the bay" [the present Counties of Accomac and Northampton] had a population of three hundred and ninety-six persons. CHARLES CITY, "extending on both sides of the river,-on the south side from Upper Chippokes Creek to Appomattox River, and on the north side from Sandy Point to Turkey Island Creek", was inhabited by five hundred and eleven persons.
CHARLES RIVER, composed of the plantations lying on the modern York River, and subsequently York County, had a population of five hundred and ten.
ELIZABETH CITTY, "extending on both sides of Hampton Roads, on the south side to Chuckatuck Creek, and on the north side of Newport News, and including a small part thereof", contained (with Warwick River) sixteen hundred and seventy people.
HENRICO, "extending from Charles City County indefinitely westward", contained four hundred and nineteen persons.
JAMES CITY, extending on both sides of the river,-on the south side from Lawne's Creek to Upper Chippokes, and on the north side from Skiffes Creek to above Sandy Point", was inhabited by eight hundred and eightysix persons.
WARROSQUYOAKE, “subsequently, in 1637, Isle of Wight county, extending from Chuckatuck Creek to Lawne's Creek", contained five hundred and twenty-two inhabitants.
WARWICK RIVER, "extending, on the north side, from Elizabeth City county to Skiffes (Keith's) Creek", contained with Elizabeth City, a population, as stated above, of sixteen hundred and seventy.
It will be noted that three of these "original shires" were on both sides of the river; and it appears that the census of 1634 (Bruce's "Social Life", p. 18) credited the Colony with 4,914 persons, while the U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n, gives the number as 5,119,-the difference being accounted for (in Bruce) by the fact that "after the census was taken a Dutch ship brought in one hundred and forty-five persons from the Bermudas, and an English ship sixty from England".
The colonists, as was most natural, gave to four of these shires the names by which these respective areas had been known from the time of the first General Assembly and for some while before,-thus attesting their loyalty to the house of Stuart,-while two were named after the Indian tribes to which the areas in those shires had belonged, one after Robert Rich, the Earl of Warwick,-and oddly enough, although Yorke was represented in the Assembly of 1632/3, yet we find that in 1634 the name Charles River was given to the area approximately embracing the former political unit called Yorke, and later again named York in 1642/3.
†The only place we find this use of the word.
Tyler's "Cradle of the Republic", 1906, p. 198, gives the bounds and Bruce's "Economic History of Virginia", i, pp. 319-20, gives the population (Bruce's "Social History", p. 18, says, "In 1634 alone twelve hundred [colonists] arrived") of these shires as follows:
The year 1636 gave us New Norfolk, probably named after Norfolk County in England, which was formed from that portion of Elizabeth City Shire which was on the southern side of the river; and the following year there were formed Lower Norfolk and Upper Norfolk,-from the lower and upper portions of New Norfolk, respectively, and Isle of Wight,-another English name substituting the original Indian name.
The estimated population had increased to 7,466 in 1640, at which time there were ten counties, after allowing for New Norfolk and Warrosquyoake which had become extinct; and the next few years brought an adjustment in the names of four other counties, when Upper Norfolk became Nansemond, Accawmack became Northampton, Charles River became York and Warwick River became Warwick, although in 1648 there were only eleven actually existing counties of the seventeen which had been formed and named, at which time the population was estimated at 15,000,* not including three hundred slaves then owned in the Colony. The formation of Rappahannock, half a century after the settlement at Jamestown, gave the Colony a total of seventeen existing counties,-seven of which originally had other names,-and an estimated population of 30,000, in 1659.*
As the rivers had naturally influenced the drift of the population more than anything else, it was but natural that all these counties should fall well within the Tidewater Section of the colony, 'though one is rather startled when he is brought to a realization of the fact that as early as 1664, the hardy colonists had established and formally organized the County of Stafford, approximately two hundred miles by water from the seat of government and actually falling within the geological Piedmont Plateau.
With a population estimated at 40,000 in 1671,* and at 50,000 in 1675,† the colony in 1673 formed its twenty-sixth county, of which six had at that time ceased to exist under their original names; while the close of the 17th Century credited the colony with a population of about 80,000,‡ distributed through twenty-three existing counties, of which eight had originally been formed under other names. There was now a lull in countyforming for something like two decades, during which interim Spotswood and his "Knights of the Horseshoe"|| crossed the mountains and visited the Valley in 1716. This was the first trip ever made to that region in the one hundred and nine years of the Colony, although Smith in his trip to the Falls of the Patomack in 1608 was within some fifty miles of the crest of the Blue Ridge. The object of this trip, as Spotswood states, was to pre-empt the title to the West against the menace of French colonization,
↑ U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n; Bruce's "Social Life", p. 18. U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n.
† Bruce' "Social Life of Virginia", p. 20. Ibid., pp. 20-1.
The popular and unquestionably erroneous "Knights of the GOLDEN Horseshoe" seems to have arisen from the fact that each of the members of the party received as a souvenir of the trip a small golden horseshoe, which was engraved "Sic Juvat [not 'Jurat'] transcendere Montes": "So it delights one [not 'they swore'] to cross the mountains",-and this in spite of Dr. W. A. Caruthers' "Knights of the Horseshoe", 1845; and of chap. xii of W. W. Scott's "History of Orange County, Virginia", 1907, which bears the same title.
though it is evident that the estimated population of 100,000* in 1717 also demanded expansion in that direction. But whatever the cause, we know that there followed a period of county-forming, with the result that in 1754 an estimated population of 284,000* was living in fifty existing counties, eight of which were formed under other names, while all the Tidewater units, except Greensville and Mathews, had been formed; the Piedmont Plateau was getting pretty well filled by county organizations, the Valley contained at least two organized counties, and the Trans-Alleghany Section had one.
The Piedmont Plateau securely peopled, the ever-restless settlers now rapidly pushed the van of civilization over the Blue Ridge into the Valley, only to ascend the higher ridges of the Alleghanies and penetrate deeper into the wilderness; while, with an estimated population of 550,000 in 1775,* the opening year of the Revolution found Virginia with sixty-one existing counties, of which eight had been formed under other names: and thus at the time of the Declaration of Independence, we find that the loyalty of the colonists to the Mother Country is strikingly reflected by the fact that of these seventy-two counties, the sources of their names seem to have been (for names of the counties in each group, see Part V, "Origin of County Names"):
Reigning houses of England, and members thereof...
Englishmen of prominence, who had befriended the Colony.
Counties named by the Colony,...
The close of the 18th Century credited Virginia with a population of 880,200,† and ninety-nine actually existing counties, although thirteen had become extinct through changes of names and nine had passed into Kentucky, when that State was admitted to the Union in 1792.
In 1860, a population of 1,596,318† was distributed through the one hundred and forty-eight then Virginia counties, while Bland, formed in 1861, was named after Richard Bland, of Revolutionary fame: but the admission of West Virginia to the Union in 1863 left but ninety-nine counties in the Old Dominion, and the last county resulting from Virginia legislation was Dickenson, formed in 1880 and named after the Hon. William J. Dickenson, of Russell County, a prominent member of the Re-adjuster Legislature which passed the Act of Assembly forming this county, and thus rounded off the one hundred counties which are to-day in the State.
* U. S. Census, 1910, Abstract, p. 567, n.
† U. S. Census.
Of these one hundred counties, the sources of their names seem to have been,-(for names of counties in each group, see Part V, below, "Origin of County Names") —
Soldiers (chiefly Revolutionary),
Revolutionary patriots, statesmen, etc.,
Virginians of prominence (jurists, senators, officials, etc.),
Presidents of the United States,
Frontiersmen and hunters,
Englishmen of prominence, once connected with colonial affairs,.
Royal family of France
Counties named by the State,.
Arber, Edward. Travels and Works of Captain John Smith. 2 vols. London, 1910.
Barton, R. T. Virginia Colonial Decisions. 2 vols. Boston, Mass., 1909. Brown, Alexander. The First Republic in America. Boston and New York,
Brown, Alexander. The Genesis of the United States. 2 vols.
New York, 1890.
Bruce, Philip Alexander. The Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, Va., 1907.
Bruce, Philip Alexander. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century. 2 vols. New York and London, 1896.
Hening, William Waller. Statutes at Large of Virginia. 13 vols. Second edition. New York, 1823.
Long, Charles M. Virginia County Names. New York and Washington, 1908. Stith, William. The History of Virginia. Sabin Reprint, New York, 1865. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic. Second edition. Richmond, Va., 1906.
Yonge, Samuel H. The Site of Old "James Towne". Tercentenary Edition. Richmond, Va., 1907.
U. S. Census Reports.