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.

Southampton County, Virginia

Southampton County Education, Geography, and History

Southampton County, Virginia Courthouse

Southampton County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 18,570. Its county seat is Courtland

Etymology - Origin of Southampton County Name

Southampton is named for either Southampton in England or Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, a treasurer of the London Company.


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

Southampton County History

During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. In 1634, the English colony of Virginia was divided into eight shires (or counties) with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Most of Southampton County was originally part of Warrosquyoake Shire. The shires were soon to be called counties. Warrosquyoake Shire was renamed Isle of Wight County in 1637.

In 1749, the portion of Isle of Wight County west of the Blackwater River became Southampton County. Later, part of Nansemond County, which is now the Independent City of Suffolk, was added to Southampton County.

In August 1831, enslaved Nat Turner led a slave rebellion of Black slaves in Southampton County against local Whites. When the rebellion was crushed, Turner and his fellow rebels were executed. In the response to the uprising, white militias and mobs lynched approximately 200 blacks in Southampton County.

Southampton County may have been named for Southampton, a major city in England, or for Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, one of the founders of the Virginia Company and a supporter of colonization in North America.

Southampton County, Virginia formed from Isle of Wight and Nansemond Counties. Nansemond gave only a small portion, possibly at a later date. [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.]

Southampton County was named, in the opinion of many authorities, for Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southampton and treasurer of the London Company from 1620 to 1624. It is more likely, however, that the county was named for the borough of Southampton in England. Southampton County was formed in 1749 from Isle of Wight County, and part of Nansemond County was added later. Its area is 604 square miles, and the county seat is Courtland.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 602 square miles (1,560 km2), of which, 600 square miles (1,553 km2) of it is land and 3 square miles (7 km2) of it (0.46%) is water.

Southampton County is bounded by the Blackwater River on the east and the Meherrin River on the west. The Nottoway River flows through the center of the county. All three rivers are tributaries of the Chowan River, which flows south into Albemarle Sound, North Carolina. The Blackwater River separates Southampton County from Isle of Wight County, and the Meherrin River separates it from Greensville County.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Gates County, NC to the southeast
  • Greensville County, VA to the west
  • Hertford County, NC to the south
  • Isle of Wight County, VA to the east
  • Nansemond County, VA to the east
  • Northampton County, NC to the southwest
  • Surry County, VA to the north
  • Sussex County, VA to the north


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