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Virginia Counties
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Virginia Counties

The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

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Northumberland County, Virginia

Northumberland County Education, Geography, and History

Northumberland County, Virginia Courthouse

Northumberland County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 12,330. Its county seat is Heathsville. The county is located on the Northern Neck.

Etymology - Origin of Northumberland County Name

Northumberland is probably named for the English county of Northumberland.


County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Northumberland County History

The area was occupied at the time of English settlement by the Algonquian-speaking historic tribes of the Wicocomico and Chickacoan. The county was created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1648 during a period of rapid population growth and geographic expansion. Settlement began in this area of the Northern Neck around 1635. Originally known as the Indian district Chickacoan, the area was first referred to as Northumberland in the colonial records in 1644. The following year, John Mottrom served as the first burgess for the territory in the House of Burgesses, which met at the capital of the Virginia Colony at Jamestown.

The colonial court ordered the two tribes to merge and by 1655, assigned them a reservation of 4,400 acres (18 km2) near Dividing Creek, south of the Great Wicomico River. By the early 1700s, the Wicocomico tribe was greatly reduced, and English colonists took control of their lands. They were believed to be extinct as a tribe as, landless, they disappeared from the historical record. Descendants of the last weroance are working to regain recognition as a tribe, the Wicocomico Indian Nation.

The size of the county was drastically reduced in 1651 and 1653 when the colonial government organized Lancaster and Westmoreland counties from it.

Of the 172 counties that have ever existed in Virginia's history, Northumberland ended up being an "ancestor" to 116 of these –– more than the current 95 counties (several were lost to other states, such as West Virginia)

Northumberland County, Virginia formed from York County. According to Robinson, it was formed from the Indian District, Chickacoan. [Virginia Counties: Those Resulting from Virginia Legislation, by Morgan Poitiaux Robinson, originally published as Bulletin of the Virginia State Library, Volume 9, January, April, July 1916, reprinted 1992 by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD.]

Northumberland County probably was named for the English county. It was formed about 1645 , although not authorized until 1648, rom the district of Chickacoan, the early-seventeenth-century name for the region between the Potomac and the Rappahannock rivers. Its area is 223 square miles, and the county seat is Heathsville.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 286 square miles (740 km2), of which, 192 square miles (498 km2) of it is land and 93 square miles (242 km2) of it (32.68%) is water. The county is located between the Rappahannock River and Potomac River.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Lancaster County, VA to the south
  • Richmond County, VA to the west
  • Westmoreland County, VA to the northwest


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