World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Shires of Virginia

The eight Shires of Virginia were formed in 1634 in the Virginia Colony. These shires were based on a form of local government used in England at the time, and were redesignated as counties a few years later. As of 2007, five of the eight original shires were considered still extant in the Commonwealth of Virginia in essentially their same political form, although some boundaries and several names have changed in the almost 400 years since their creation.


In 1634, a new system of local government was created in the Virginia Colony by order of King Charles I of England. Eight shires were named by the House of Burgesses, each with its own local officers. The term shire in this system was officially renamed as county only a few years later. There were also several early individual name changes, notably Warrosquyoake, a Native American name with varied spellings that became Isle of Wight. Also, during the English Civil War, Charles River County and the Charles River were changed to York County and York River respectively (though Charles City County kept its royal name).

The original Shires of Virginia were:

Four of the shire names included names of cities that had been created in 1619. Between 1637 and 1642, their names formalized from "Shire" to "County", and the results apparently caused confusion two centuries later. This is due to names, such as "James City County" and "Charles City County" that seem contradictory to some in Virginia because after independent cities were introduced by the 1870 Constitution of Virginia, an area can be in a city or in a county, but cannot be in both.

  • The county that included the original 1607 settlement at Jamestown apparently attempted to address any potential confusion long ago, when its legal name was the "County of James City" for a time. It is now officially James City County again.
  • In 1952, the citizens of "Elizabeth City County" voted to relinquish county status, and consolidate with the independent city of Hampton. They also voted to assume the better-known and less cumbersome name of Hampton.
  • Also in 1952, Warwick County converted to an independent city. On July 1, 1958, the still nascent city of Warwick was politically re-consolidated with the independent city of Newport News, which had itself broken away from Warwick County in 1896.

See also

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.