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GOVERNORS OF VIRGINIA, 1607-1908

TABLE A COLONIAL GOVERNORS: 1607-1775.
NOTE.—A figure in parentheses following: a name indicates that the governor thus marked had held the office before.
Example: 16. Sir George Yeardley (11.14,) indicates that in addition to being the sixteenth governor, Yeardley has also been the eleventh and fourteenth.

Name And Title Date Of Office
01 Edward Maria Wingfield, President of Council, May 13, 1607—September 10, 1607.
02 John Ratcliffe, President of Council, September 10, 1607—September 7, 1608.
03 Captain John Smith, President of Council September 10, 1608—August, 1609.
04 Captain George Percy, President of Council, August, 1607—May, 1610.
05 Sir Thomas Gates, Lieut. Gen. and Deputy Gov., May, 1610—June 10, 1610.
06 Sir Thomas West (Lord Delaware), Gov. & Capt.-Gen.June 10, 1610—March 25, 1611.
07 Captain George Percy (4) Deputy Governor, March 28, 1611—May 19, 1611.
08 Sir Thomas Dale, Acting Governor, May 17, 1611—August 16, 1611.
09 Sir Thomas Gates (5), Acting Governor, August, 1611—March, 1613.
10 Sir Thomas Dale (8), Acting Governor, March, 1613—April, 1616.
11 Captain George Yeardley, Deputy Governor, April, 1616—May, 1617.
12 Captain Samuel Argall, Deputy Governor, May, 1617—April, 1619.
13 Captain Nathaniel Powell, President Virginia Coun., April 7, 1617—April 19, 1619.
14 Sir George Yeardley (11, Gov. and Capt.-Gen., April 17, 1617—November 8, 1621.
15 Sir Francis Wyatt, Gov. and Capt.-Gen., November 8, 1621—May 17, 1626.
16 Sir George Yeardley, (11, 14), Gov. and Capt.-Gen., May 17, 1626—November 14, 1627.
17 Captain Francis West, President Virginia Council, November 17, 1627—March 5, 1629.
18 Dr. John Potts, President Virginia Council March 3, 1627—March, 1630.
19 Sir John Harvey, Governor and Captain-General, March, 1630—April, 1635.
20 Captain John West, President of Council April 28, 163—April 2, 1636.
21 Sir John Harvey (19), Governor and Captain-General, April 2, 1636—November, 1639.
22 Sir Francis Wyatt (15), Governor and Captain-General, November 1639—February, 1642.
23 Sir William Berkeley, Gov. and Capt. Gen February, 1642—June, 1644.
24 Richard Kemper, Pres. Council and Acting Gov. June, 1644—June, 1645.
25 Sir William Berkeley (23), Governor June, 1645—April 30, 1652.
26 Richard Bennet, Acting Governor, April 30, 1652—March, 1655.
27 Edward Digges, President Council and Governor, March, 1655—March 13, 1658.
28 Captain Samuel Matthews, President Council, March 13, 1658—January, 1660.
29 Sir William Berkeley (23, 25), Governor March 13, 1660—April 30, 1661.
30 Col. Francis Morrison, Deputy Governor March 23, 1661—December 23, 1662.
31 Sir William Berkeley (23, 25, 29), Governor December 23, 1662—April 27, 1677.
32 Sir Herbert Jeffries, Lieutenant-Governor, April 27, 1677—December 30, 1678.
33 Sir Henry Chicheley, Deputy Governor, December 30, 1678—May 10, 1680.
34 Thomas, Lord Culpeper, a Gov. and Capt. Gen. May 10, 1680—September 17, 1683.
35 Nicholas Spencer, President Council September 17, 1683—April 16, 1684.
36 Francis, Lord Howard, Lieutenant Governor, April 16, 1684—October 20, 1688.
37 Nathaniel Bacon, President Council, October 20, 1688—October 16, 1690.
38 Sir Francis Nicholson, Lieutenant Governor, October 16, 1690—October 16, 1693.
39 Sir Edmund Andros, Governor October 16, 1693—December 9, 1698.
40 George H. Douglas, b Earl of Orkney, Gov.-in-Chief, (1697-1734).
41 Sir Francis Nicholson (38), Lieutenant Governor, December 9, 1698—August 15, 1705.
42 Edward Nott, Lieutenant Governor, August 15, 1705—August, 1706.
43 Edmund Jennings, President of Council, August, 1706—June 23, 1710.
44 Robert Hunter, Lieutenant Governor April 4, 1707.
45 Alexander Spotswood, Lieutenant Governor June 23, 1710—September 27, 1772.
46 Hugh Drysdale, Lieutenant Governor, September 27, 1722—July 22, 1726.
47 Robert Carter, President of Council, July 3, 1726—October 13, 1727.
48 William Gooch, Lieutenant Governor, October 23, 1727—June, 1740.
49 William Anne Keppel, Governor-in-Chief, (September 6, 1737—December 23, 1754)
50 James Blair, President of Council, June, 1740—July, 1741.
51 William Gooch (178), Lieutenant Governor, July, 1741—June 20, 1749.
52 John Robinson, President of Council, June 20, 1749—September 5, 1749.
53 Thomas Lee, President of Council September 5, 1749—February 12, 1751.
54 Lewis Burwell, President of Council, February 12, 1751—November 20, 1751.
55 Robert Dinwiddie, Lieutenant Governor November 20, 1751—January, 1758
56 John Campbell, Earl of Loudoun, c Governor, (July 1756-1768).
57 John Blair, President Council January, 1758—June 7, 1758.
58 Francis Fauquier, Lieutenant Governor June 7, 1758—March 3, 1768.
59 Sir Geoffrey Amherst, Governor-in-Chief, (1763-1768).
60 John Blair, (57), President of Council, March 3, 1768 — October 1768.
61 Norberne Berkeley, Baron de Botetourt, Gov.-in-Chief, October 28, 1768—October 15, 1770.
62 William Nelson, President of Council, October 15, 1770—August, 1771
63 John Murray, Earl Dunmore, Governor, July, 1771—June, 1775.
64 Peyton Randolph, President Virginia Convention, August, 1774—July, 1775.
65 Edmund Pendleton, President Virginia Convention, December, 1775—May, 1776.

TABLE B GOVERNORS IN VIRGINIA AFTER STATEHOOD 1776-1908
Name Date Of Office
01 Patrick Henry, June 27, 1776—June 1, 1779.
02 Thomas Jefferson, June 1, 1779—June, 1781.
03 Thomas Nelson, Jr., June 12, 1781—November 30, 1781.
04 Benjamin Harrison, November 30, 1781—November 29, 1784.
05 Patrick Henrys, December, 1784—December, 1786.
06 Edmund Randolph, December 1, 1786—December 1, 1788.
07 Beverly Randolph, December 1, 1788—December 1, 1791.
08 Henry Lee, December 1, 1791—December 1, 1794.
09 Robert Brooke, December 1, 1794 —December 1, 1796.
10 James Wood, December 1, 1796—December 1, 1799.
11 James Monroe, December 1, 1799—December 1, 1802.
12 John Page, December 1, 1802—December 1, 1805.
13 William H. Cabell, December 1, 1805—December 1, 1808.
14 John Tyler, December 1, 1808—January 11, 1811.
15 James Monroe, January 11, 1811—November 25, 1811.
16 George William Smiths, November 25, 1811—December 26, 1811.
17 Peyton Randolph, December 26, 1811—January 3, 1812.
18 James Barbour, January 3, 1812—December 1, 1814.
19 William C. Nicholas, December 1, 1814—December 1, 1816.
20 James P. Preston, December 1, 1816—December 1, 1819.
21 Thomas Mann Randolph, December 1, 1817—December 1, 183.
22 James Pleasants, Jr., December 1, 183—December 1, 1823.
23 John Tyler December 1, 1823—March 17, 1827.
24 William B. Giles March, 1827—March, 1830.
25 John Floyd March, 1830— March, 1834.
26 L. W. Tazewell March 30, 183—April 30, 1836.
27 Wyndham Robertson* April 30, 1836—March, 183.
28 David Campbell March, 183—March, 18170. "S.
29 Thomas W. Gilmer March, 1817—March, 1817. E
30 John Mercer Patton, March 18, 1817—March 30, 1817.
31 John Rutherford, March 30, 1817—March, 18172.
32 John M. Gregory*, March, 18172—January 1, 183.
33 James McDowell, January 1, 183—January 1, 18176.
34 William Smith, January 1, 18176—January 1, 18177.
35 James B. Floyd, January 1, 18177—January 1, 1832.
36 Joseph Johnson, January 1, 1832—January 1, 1836.
37 Henry A. Wise January 1, 1836—January 1, i860.
38 John Letcher January 1, i860—January 1, 18617.
39 William Smith, January 1, 18617—May 7, 1863.
40 F. H. Pierpont May 7, 1863—April 16, 1868.
41 Henry H. Wells, April 16, 1868—April 21, 1867.
42 G. C. Walkerm April 21, 1867—January 1, 182.
43 G. C. Walker, January 1, 182—January 1, 18717.
44 General James L. Kemper January 1, 18717—January 1, 1878.
45 F. W. M. Holladay, January 1, 1878—January 1, 1882.

Source:  Virginia County Names; by Charles Massie Long, M.A. PhD.; publ. 1908; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack;

 

COUNTIES NAMED AFTER THIRTEEN VIRINIA GOVERNORS

CULPEPER, Organized 1748
SPOTSYLVANIA, Organized
GOOCHLAND, Organized 1727
DINWIDDIE, Organized 1752
FAUQUIER, Organized 1759
BOTETOURT, Organized 1769
HENRY, Organized 1776; Named after Patrick Henry.
PATRICK, Organized 1790; Named after Patrick Henry.
NELSON,  Organized 1807
LEE,  Organized 1792
PAGE, Organized 1831
GILES, Organized 1806
FLOYD, Organized 1831
WISE, Organized 1855

VIRGINIA GOVERNORS AND UNITED STATES PRESIDENTS
           
In fourteen of her counties Virginia reproduces the names of her governors:
Botetourt, Culpeper, Dinwiddie, Fauquier, Goochland, and Spotsylvania recall colonial times; while Floyd, Giles, Patrick and Henry, Lee, Nelson, Page, and Wise dated after the Declaration of Independence.  With the exception of Botetourt, these colonial counties lie east of Virginia’s center.  Fauquier and Culpeper are in the north near the headwater of the Rappahannock.  Spotsylvania, to the southeast of these two counties, contains the sources of the Mat, the Ta, the Po and the Ny rivers, which unite in Caroline county to form the Mattapony River.  Dinwiddie is in southeastern Virginia, and is drained by the Nottoway and Appomattox rivers. Goochland is on the north bank of the James between Fluvanna and Henrico.  Botetourt lies on both sides of the James, wedged in between the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains.

Lord Culpeper, who served from 1680 to 1683 as the governor of Virginia, is chiefly notable for the immense tracts of land he owned.  In 1673 Charles II of England granted Virginia for a period of thirty-one years to Culpeper and the Earl of Arlington.  Two years afterward Culpeper bought the rights to the lands lying between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, and was appointed governor of Virginia for life.  He did not come to Virginia to assume his office until 1680.  Though a shrewd and capable governor, Culpeper was convicted of bribery at the end of three years, and was thereupon deposed from office.  Culpeper county was named after Governor Culpeper in 1748, a few years after his grandson, Lord Fairfax, had made his home on the vast estate inherited from his grandfather.

Of the six colonial governors who gave their names to Virginia counties, Alexander Spotswood, with his spacious and hospitable country home, is probably the most interesting character.  While governor he made an exploring tour through the country from Williamsburg across the mountains to the Shenandoah River.  The parties had a jolly time, and were gone six weeks.  On their return each tourist received a golden horseshoe as a souvenir of the trip, and thus was instituted the order of the “Knights of the Horse-Shoe.”  A horse-shoe was chosen as the badge of knighthood because the horses, which at home needed no shoes, had to be shod in order to be able to travel over the rocky regions of the mountains.  In 1724, Governor Spotswood had above the falls on the Rappahannock River an iron furnace, considered by him as the first regular iron furnace in the United States.  But there was a furnace for smelting iron ore at Falling Creek, in Chesterfield county, in 1619.  It was destroyed and the people killed in the Indian massacre of March 22, 1622.  There is a pig of the iron with the furnace mark in the State Library in Richmond.

Sir William Gooch had already won fame as a soldier in Europe when he was chosen governor of the Old Dominion in 1727.  Two counties were established that year, and one of them was named Goochland in honor of the new governor.  Gooch greatly endeared himself to the people by his wise administration as governor, and the Virginians bade him a tearful farewell when he sailed for his English home after twenty years of service in the colony.  The flourishing city of Staunton in Augusta county is named after Lady Staunton, the beloved wife of Governor Gooch.

Robert Dinwiddie became governor of Virginia in 1752, and a county was named after him the same year. Dinwiddie's term lasted six years. Though neither a good nor a popular executive, Dinwiddie showed discernment by appointing young Washington to important commands. The latter's trip beyond Fort Duquesne was undertaken at Dinwiddie's instigation.

The Virginians again complimented their chief executive in 1759 when they named Fauquier county in honor of Francis Fauquier, who had lately become governor. Fauquier was a broad-minded scholar of culture and ability, and his society was greatly enjoyed by the youthful but appreciative Jefferson. Though Fauquier was watchful of the interest of the home government in England, he had also the welfare of the colonists at heart. His term was ended by death in 1768.

Lord Norberne Berkeley, Baron of Botetourt, became governor of Virginia in 1768, and held the office until his death in October, 1770. Though the opposition between the Virginians and the mother country caused Botetourt to use strongly repressive measures towards Virginia, the baron was a true friend 'to the colony. He was much mourned at his death and the legislature honored his memory with a marble statue, which is still standing at William and Mary College. The beautiful county in western Virginia received his name the year before his death. Fincastle, the county seat of Botetourt, takes its name from Lord Botetourt's estate in England. Fincastle county was formed in 1772, but ceased to exist four years later, when it was divided into Washington, Montgomery, and Kentucky counties—the last named afterwards became Kentucky State.

Berkeley county, now of West Virginia, was organized as a Virginia county in 1772. The name was nearly certainly derived from the late Governor Botetourt, Lord Norberne Berkeley, though I have no authority to cite in support of this theory. On the other hand, "Appleton's American Cyclopedia" says that the county was named after "Governor Berkeley." This must mean Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia for twenty years or more in the seventeenth century. William Berkeley is the only person that was generally known as Governor Berkeley; Norberne Berkeley is known in history as Governor Botetourt.

Several considerations seem to throw doubt on the cyclopedia's statement. The latter part of Berkeley's administration was marked by great cruelty to the followers of Nathaniel Bacon, and Berkeley was recalled to England at the request of the Virginians. While the governor had been very popular before Bacon's rebellion, was it likely that Virginia should wait ninety-five years after Berkeley's death and then give a county name for a governor that had been hateful to many in the colony for his acts of tyranny?

In the Virginians' attitude towards Lord Botetourt it seems more probable that Berkeley county should have been named after the baron's ordinary name, Norberne Berkeley. Fincastle county was named after his English estate the same year Berkeley county was organized, and Botetourt county had been named after the baron himself only three years before—thus proving the affection of Virginians for him. But, even if Berkeley county is named after Sir William Berkeley, the naming was probably done to reflect honor on Lord Norberne Berkeley, for Norberne was a direct descendant of John, elder brother of William.

Culpeper, Orange, and Fauquier organized a famous regiment of "Minute Men" at the beginning of the Revolution. The Culpeper corps carried an aggressive-looking flag, which had depicted on it a rattlesnake with twelve rattles—the head for Virginia, a rattle for each of the other colonies. On the flag were the words: "the Culpeper Minute Men. Liberty Or Death. Don't Tread On Me." The Culpeper men wore green hunting shirts and were otherwise attired so as to present a savage and formidable appearance.

Fauquier contains some of the best farming lands in the State. Botetourt is rich in minerals and well adapted to stock raising. Dinwiddie contains Petersburg, the third city of the State in size.
The eight counties that Virginia has named after her governors since she cast off allegiance to England are west of the State's center, and all of them are more or less mountainous. Patrick and Henry are on the North Carolina border, and are watered by Carolina streams.

Lee, the most western county of the State, separates Kentucky from Tennessee, and is drained by Russell's River, whose waters reach the Tennessee. Wise is north of Lee, and also borders on Kentucky; it is drained by Kentucky streams and by Clinch River waters. Giles, bordering on West Virginia, is bisected by the New River. Floyd is watered chiefly by the Little River, a tributary of the New, and lies northwest of Patrick county. Nelson, with its west-central position, is beautified on the northwest by the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the southwest by the historic James. Page, in the Shenandoah Valley, is noted for the wonderful Luray Caverns.
Of Virginia's governors none deserve a higher rank than Patrick Henry. His long life almost coincides with that of Washington—he was born four years after, and died six months before, the President. Both were Virginia born, and both spent their last days in their native State.

It would be hard to overestimate the value of Henry's services to his State and his country. Before the Revolution his eloquence did much to secure the repeal of the odious Stamp Act, and when the war was on hand he kindled a fiery zeal for independence in the hearts of his countrymen. Henry was instrumental in getting the Virginia delegates to propose independence in the national Congress of 1776, and he helped to secure the guarantee of religious freedom in the States and the national constitutions.

After perfecting for Virginia the first written State constitution in America, the Williamsburg State convention ended its work of June 29, 1776, by electing Patrick Henry the first governor of the new State, and the legislature of that year honored Henry by giving his name to the large county that had just been formed from Pittsylvania. After Henry had retired from the Virginia legislature of 1790, a new county was formed from a part of Henry county, and the exlegislator was again honored in Patrick county's name. Henry was unanimously reelected governor four times, and in 1796, six years after his retirement to private life, was again chosen chief executive of Virginia, but "Virginia was a colony, subject to Great Britain, before she declared her independence, declined to serve on account of the infirmities of age. The Virginia governors were then elected by the State legislature for a term of one year, and were not eligible for more than three successive terms. No other governor of Virginia has served as many terms as Henry, nor does any other governor of the State have more than one county named in his honor. Henry was twice offered a United States senatorship, and also important offices under President Washington, but he declined them all.

Nelson county was formed in 1807, and was named after General Thomas Nelson, who was Virginia's third governor after she had become a State. While Nelson was of greater service as a legislator than as a soldier, he took honorable rank in both capacities. As a member of the Virginia legislature he helped to frame the State constitution, and afterwards signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1776 he was Henry's chief competitor for the governorship, and in June, 1781, he succeeded Jefferson in that office. At the siege of Yorktown, where he commanded the Virginia militia, Governor Nelson manifested a noble example of unselfish
"Unless it was Governor Botetourt patriotism. His house was the largest and best in Yorktown, and thinking, therefore, that General Cornwallis probably had his headquarters there, Nelson had the building bombarded, offering a reward to the cannoneer who should put the first ball through it. Nelson's term of governorship lasted not quite six months, as failing health forced him to resign, and the remaining eight years of his life were spent in retirement. He died in York, the county that had given him birth fifty-one years before. The statues of six honored sons of Virginia stand around the lifelike equestrian statue of Washington in the capitol square of Richmond. These statues commemorate the lives and services of General Andrew Lewis, so distinguished in Indian warfare; George Mason; Chief Justice Marshall; Patrick Henry; President Jefferson, and Governor Thomas Nelson.

Lee county received its name in 1792, from General Henry Lee, of Westmoreland, who had just become governor of Virginia. Virginia had special reason at that time to honor the name of Lee, as Richard Henry Lee had just retired to private life after thirty-six "The Governor's house was struck by the shot, but is still standing and has people living in it.  years of arduous public service, while Francis Lightfoot Lee and Arthur Lee, brothers of Richard Henry Lee, had also endeared themselves to the State by careers of usefulness and honor.

General Henry Lee, second cousin to Richard Henry, rendered valuable service in the Revolution by his brave and well-trained "legion" of cavalry. Lee's "Memoirs of '76" tells of Revolutionary scenes. Lee was a member of the congress that adopted the Constitution of the United States, and he urged its ratification by Virginia in 1788. He became governor of the State December 1, 1791, and held the office three years.

Three Lees have been Virginia's chief executive: Thomas Lee, President of the Colonial Council, was governor from September, 1749, to February, 1751; General Henry Lee, December 1, 1791, to December 1, 1794; and General Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of General R. E. Lee and grandson of Governor Henry Lee, was governor for the four years ending December 31, 1889.
At the death of Washington Congress appointed Henry Lee to prepare a eulogy on the great American. Lee's speech contained the now famous words, "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."

Page county was named in 1831 in honor of Governor John Page, whose term of office expired twenty-six years before the county was organized.  John Page, of Gloucester county, Virginia, attended William and Mary College with Thomas Jefferson, and the two students formed there a lasting friendship for each other. During the Revolution Page proved of great service to the State as lieutenant-governor and as a member of the committee of public safety. He was in Congress during Washington's entire Presidency, and was governor of Virginia for the three years ending in 1805. When Page retired from the governorship, his old friend, President Jefferson, appointed him to a public office, which he held until his death in 1808.
Those who have read the delightful stories of Thomas Nelson Page will, perhaps, take a greater interest in Governor John Page when they learn that he was the great-grandfather of the author of "Marse Chan" and Meh Lady."

William Branch Giles had been for two years the leader of the Democratic party in the United States Senate when Giles county was named after him in 1806. In 1791 he was elected to Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Colonel Theodoric Bland, and served continuously in that body for eight years. He resigned from Congress in 1798 and became a member of the Virginia legislature, where he helped Madison to pass the celebrated "Resolutions of '98." These Resolutions strongly emphasized the rights of the individual States, and indicated the dangerous tendencies that lurk in a government that has too great power over the parts composing that government. Giles was chosen United States senator in 1804, and at once became the leader of the Democratic party in the Senate. After holding the leadership seven years, he lost it because of his opposition to war with Great Britain. He retired from the Senate to private life in 1815, but entered politics again in 1826 as a member of the Virginia legislature. The next year he was made governor of Virginia, and served until 1830.

Floyd county takes its name from John Floyd, who succeeded Mr. Giles as governor of Virginia. Floyd was a member of Congress from Virginia from 1830 to 1834 He enjoyed the personal friendship of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, and Jackson, but opposed Jackson's election for a second term because of the repressive measures the President used against South Carolina. South Carolina seems to have appreciated Floyd's pronounced States' rights views, for she gave him her vote for President in 1832.

It is rather unusual for father and son to become governors of the same State, but John Buchanan Floyd, son of Governor John Floyd, was governor of Virginia from 1849 to 1852. When James Buchanan became President in 1857 he appointed young Floyd Secretary of War.

Henry Alexander Wise, of Accomack county, Virginia, who had served eleven years in Congress and for three years as minister to Brazil, was nominated by the Democrats in 1855 for governor of Virginia. He began the campaign under heavy disadvantages, but his vigorous and skillful canvass, during which he traveled over three thousand miles and made more than fifty speeches, resulted must be remembered that the facilities for travel are much better in 1908 than they were in 1855. Railroads were scarce then.

Giles, Nelson, and Page counties are remarkable for natural objects of great interest.
In Giles, about a thousand feet above the base of Salt Pond Mountain, and three thousand feet above sea-level, is a wonderful sheet of water known as Mountain Lake. The lake is three-fourths of a mile long, half a mile wide, and from fifty to sixty feet deep. The water is so transparent that the bottom can be seen in every part.

In the southwestern corner of Nelson county is probably the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Crab Tree Falls starts from the top of Pinnacle Peak and descends three thousand feet in going a horizontal distance of two thousand feet. "Well described in Howe's "Virginia History" and Martin's "Virginia Gazetteer." Whitehead's "Virginia Handbook" describes Mountain Lake (formerly called Salt Pond), Crab Tree Falls, and Luray Caves.
The highest cataract, the "Grand Cataract," makes a fall of five hundred feet; the lowest falls is about fifty feet high. Crab Tree Creek, on which the falls is located, flows into Tye River a few miles from the cataract. The approach to the falls is very difficult, but the numerous visitors are well repaid for their trouble by the magnificent view obtained.

In Page county are the Luray Caverns, who’s "wonders surpass those of any other caverns known to man." The most remarkable of these curious examples of nature's handiwork were not discovered until 1878. They are now fitted up with electric lights, that their wonderful formation may be fully appreciated by the numerous sight-seers who visit them.

COUNTIES NAMED AFTER THREE PRESIDENTS

WASHINGTON, Organized 1776.
MADISON, Organized 1792.
BUCHANAN, Organized 1858.

Buchanan, Madison, and Washington counties bear the names of United States Presidents, though neither Madison nor Washington had attained to that office when the counties were named in their honor.

Buchanan forms a sharp point of the State that borders on Kentucky and West Virginia, and is drained by the Big Sandy River. Madison, a small county in north-central Virginia, is bounded on the west by the Blue Ridge, which separates it from Page. Rapidan waters drain most of this mountainous county. Washington, in the southwest, is beautified by the attractive river and mountain scenery of the Holston River valley.

Buchanan county was organized and named in 1858, the year after James Buchanan of Pennsylvania was inaugurated President. It was the last Virginia county to receive a President's name.

Madison county was named in 1792, when James Madison of Virginia was the acknowledged leader of the Democrats in Congress, his previous public career gaining for him this leadership. He helped to secure religious freedom for Virginia, and strongly supported the Constitution, both when it was adopted by Congress and on its ratification by Virginia. In addition to the other high honors accorded him, Madison was afterwards twice President. He lived to the ripe old age of eighty five, and died in Virginia, the State that had given him birth.
The universal esteem in which our first President is held is well proven by the great number of places that bear the name of Washington. Virginia, though the first, is but one of thirty-one States to have a Washington county. Seven of the original thirteen States thus honor the illustrious Virginian, while South Dakota, Idaho, and Oregon, in a similar way, and also revere his name. Post offices in twenty-eight different States and Territories, the capital city of our great Republic, and a large State on the Pacific Ocean also bear the name of the one, who seems, in very truth, to be the "Father of His Country."

"Madison afterwards opposed the Constitution, and helped to secure a number of amendments that more fully guaranteed States' rights. The Legislature established the county in October, 1776; the first county court was held January 28, 1777.

 

 

 

 

 

INDIAN NAMES AND NATURAL FEATURES
NINE INDIAN NAMES
NANSEMOND, Organized 1640
ACCOMAC Organized 1673
NOTTOWAY Organized 1788
RAPPAHANNOCK Organized 1831
APPOMATTOX Organized 1845
POWHATAN Organized 1777
SHENANDOAH, Organized 1772
ALLEGHANY Organized 1822
ROANOKE, Organized 1838

NINE INDIAN COUNTY NAMES

When Captain John Smith first came to Jamestown, in 1607, about fifty Indian tribes lived between the sea and the mountains of Virginia. Most of the tribes belonged to the one or the other of two great confederacies. Thirty tribes under the chieftain Powhatan lived south of the Potomac, between the sea and the falls of the rivers. Against Powhatan's tribes were opposed two smaller confederacies—the Mannahoacks and the Manakins. The Mannahoacks consisted of eight tribes scattered between the Rappahannock and York rivers, while the Manakins were a union of five tribes who lived above the falls between the York and the James. Besides the confederated Indians, there were the Nottoway’s, the Meherricks, the Tuteloes, and several other independent tribes.

Beverly mentions twenty towns, distributed as follows: in Accomac there were Matomkin, Gingotoque, Pungoteaque, Kiequotank, Matchopungo, Occahannock, Oanancock, Chicpnessex, Nanduye; in Northampton, Gangascoe, almost as numerous as all the preceding put together; in Prince George, Wyanoke, extinct; in Charles City, Appamattox, extinct; in Surry, Nottaway; in Nansemond, Menheering and Nansamond; in King William, Pamunkie and Chickahominie; in Essex, Rappahannock, extinct; in Richmond, Port Tobago, extinct; in Northumberland, Wiccomoco. The spelling of the tribal names just given in Beverly's. There was no way to determine the spelling except by the sound of the words, hence the same name is often spelled in several ways.

Pungoteque was governed by a queen; and Nanduye was "a seat of the empress," who had "all the nations of the shore under tribute."

From many of these Indian names come names for counties, white towns, bays, inlets, and islands of Virginia. The Potomac River is named after an Indian tribe; Chesapeake Bay, the "Mother of Waters," is an Indian name; and the James River once bore the name Powhatan, in honor of the Indian chief. Nansemond, Accomac, Nottoway, Rappahannock, and Appomattox counties are named after Indian tribes.

Nansemond is in southeast Virginia on the North Carolina border. It is drained by the Nansemond and Blackwater rivers and by Lake Drummond. This county, the ninth oldest in the State, was in existence as early as 1640, for an act was then passed defining its boundaries. It was first called Upper Norfolk, but six years later it took the name "Nansimun." Captain John Smith spelled the name "Nansamund"; Beverly says "Nansamond"; and now it is Nansemond.

Beverly says of the Indian tribe after whom the county and Nansemond River were named: "Nansamond; about thirty bowmen; they have increased much of late." "See Howe, p. 22.

Accomac county comprises nearly two thirds of that part of Virginia which lies between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The name "Accawmacke" was given to all the "Eastern Shore" of Virginia when it became one of the original shires in 1634.  Nine years later the name was changed to Northampton, but the term "Accomac" was revived in 1672 in the name of the county that was then formed from a part of Northampton. The Accomacs were a tribe of Indians that once inhabited the Eastern Shore.

Accomac and Northampton counties abound in Indian names. Chincoteague inlet, Matomkin island and inlet, Onancock and Pangoteague towns pertaining to Accomac; while the Great Machipongo Inlet is off the Northampton coast. Pocomoke sound and river and Assateague bay and island are probably Indian names also.

Nottoway is a small county in southeastern Virginia, and is drained by Nottoway and Appomattox waters. Burkeville, at the junction of the two railroads that traverse the county, is becoming well known for its mineral waters.

The tribe of Indians after whom Nottoway county and river were named is now extinct. Beverly, about 1700, says that the "Nottoway’s" had about a hundred bowmen, and that they were increasing. Jefferson, in writing "Virginia Notes," about 1780, says that only a few squaws then remained of the Nottoway’s.

Rappahannock county is situated in northern Virginia between Fauquier and Madison counties, and takes its name from the river whose headwaters it contains. The river, however, is named from an Indian tribe that once lived along its banks in Essex county. The tribe became extinct before 1700. Richmond and Essex counties were known as Rappahannock county before 1692, but the old county was absorbed that year by the two new ones that were formed out of its territory. The new Rappahannock county was not formed until 1831, or one hundrded and thirty-nine years after the old county ceased to exist.
Appomattox county, on the south bank of the James, is almost equally distant from the eastern and western extremities of the State. It doubtless takes its name from the river that

Source:  Virginia County Names; by Charles Massie Long, M.A. PhD.; publ. 1908; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack;

 





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