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.

Nelson County, Virginia

Nelson County Education, Geography, and History

Nelson County, Virginia Courthouse

Nelson County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 15,020.Nelson County was created in 1807, when it was separated from Amherst County. The government was formed the following year.  Its county seat is Lovingston. The county is named for Thomas Nelson, Jr. An earlier Virginia county, also named in his honor, became part of Kentucky when it separated from Virginia in 1792.

Nelson County is part of the Charlottesville, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of Nelson County Name

Nelson is named for Governor of Virginia Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the US Declaration of Independence, who served as Governor of Virginia in 1781.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Nelson County History

Nelson County, Virginia formed from Jefferson County. Legislative enactment in 1784. Organized in 1785. [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.]

Nelson County was named for Thomas Nelson, Jr., governor of Virginia from June to November 1781. It was formed in 1807 from Amherst County. Its area is 471 square miles, and the county seat is Lovington.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 474 square miles (1,228 km2), of which, 472 square miles (1,223 km2) of it is land and 2 square miles (5 km2) of it (0.41%) is water. The Blue Ridge Mountains form the northwest boundary of the county; the James River forms the boundary to the southeast. Internally, Nelson consists of the Rockfish, Tye and Piney Rivers, along with many known creeks.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Augusta County, Virginia - northwest
  • Albemarle County, Virginia - northeast
  • Buckingham County, Virginia - southeast
  • Appomattox County, Virginia - south
  • Amherst County, Virginia - southwest
  • Rockbridge County, Virginia - west


Nelson County Public Schools is a Virginia public school division. It operates two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.

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