Thursday, March 22, 2012

King William County created from Pamunkey Neck of King & Queen County, April 11, 1702

Namesake: William III; King of England, Scotland and Ireland from April 11, 1689 to March 19, 1702

Important Dates 

Early 1600s The county was under the domain of the Tsenacommaco or the Powhatan Confederacy. The confederacy, which encompassed 6,000 square miles of eastern Virginia, bound together approximately thirty Algonquian tribes of 13,000 people in 200 villages. It included the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes; the Upper Mattaponi tribe is a non-reservated descendent of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey. The paramount chief of the Powhatan Confederacy, Wahunsonacock or Powhatan as the English called him, died in April 1618. He had ceded power to Opitchapan or Itopan about a year earlier in 1617. Opechancanough, Powhatan's younger brother, succeeded Opitchapan in 1619. (The marriage of Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, to John Rolfe in 1614 ensured peace with the English colonists.) 
1608 Captain John Smith, who was a member and later president of the Jamestown settlement's governing council, explored the site of the present-day Town of West Point. This area was the location of the Indian town of Cinquoteck, or Paumunkee Town as Smith referred to it. 
1634 Charles River County was created. It was one of the eight original shires, similar to those in England. The new county, which was named after the reigning English King Charles I, encompassed the lands lying to the north and west of the York River. The new county presumably included Pamunkey Neck, which is the land laying between the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers. The names of the county and river were changed to York in 1643 to honor James, the second son of Charles I, who that year was made Duke of York. (In 1664 the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, which was captured by the English during the Dutch War of 1664-1667, was renamed New York after James, the Duke of York. He became James II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1685 and abdicated the throne to William III and Mary II during the Glorious Revolution of 1688-1689.) 
1646 Under Governor Sir William Berkeley the English imposed a peace treaty on the new chief of the Powhatan, Necotowance. The treaty restricted habitation and hunting by the Indians to north side of York River, presumably including Pamunkey Neck, ceded to the English all peninsular lands between the James and York Rivers as far inland as the falls at present-day Richmond, and made the tribes dominions of the crown. The treaty followed the defeat of the Powhatan Indians during their last great uprising that began on April 18, 1644 and the slaying of their captured leader, Opechancanough, in October 1644. 
1653 Colonel William Claiborne was granted a patent of 5,000 acres, including Romancoke. 
    March 6 - Governor John West patented 3,000 acres of land at the confluence of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers. West named his tract West Point in honor of his family. 
1654 New Kent County was created from York County. The new county, which was probably named after the English shire of Kent, encompassed lands lying to the heads of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Rivers including Pamunkey Neck. 
1658 The Virginia General Assembly enacted the legislation creating the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian Reservations. 
1677 May 29 - A peace treaty between the remnants of six Indian tribes and English King Charles II, acting through Governor Herbert Jeffreys and the Council of State, required the tribes to avow allegiance to the queen of the Pamunkey and the English crown. The treaty effectively reaffirmed the existence of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian lands, later called reservations, and stipulated payment each March of an annual quitrent to the governor. The Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian reservations are the only reservations in Virginia and two of the oldest reservations in the United States. 
1691 King & Queen County was created from New Kent County. The new county, which was named after the ruling English monarchs, King William III and Queen Mary II, encompassed lands lying north of the Pamunkey and York Rivers including Pamunkey Neck. The legislative enabling act that created the new county contained the first official reference to English town lands at West Point in Pamunkey Neck.
1692 The House of Burgesses, the lower house of the General Assembly, rejected a petition from inhabitants of King & Queen County requesting legalization of titles and possession of lands that they acquired from the Indians in the Pamunkey Neck section of the county. 
1693 King William III and Queen Mary II granted the College of William & Mary its royal charter, which included an endowment of 10,000 acres in the upper part of Pamunkey Neck. The land was sold to lessees by 1830. 
1695 May 4 - William Leigh and Joshua Story, burgesses for King & Queen County, introduced the first legislative petition to divide King & Queen County and to create a new county. The bill was passed by the House of Burgesses but was defeated by the Council, which was the upper chamber of the legislature. 
1699 June 21 - The Council-appointed a commission to meet at King & Queen County Court House in September and to examine the validity of private land claims in the Pamunkey Neck section of the county.

1701 August - The General Assembly passed the act that established a regional port town called Delaware (or Del la War), the predecessor of the Town of West Point. The new town was situated on land conveyed by John West III and three siblings to King & Queen County for establishment of a regional port. 
    September 4 - The Council-appointed commission submitted its report to the General Assembly. The legislature adopted the report's recommendations, approving patents for 50 settlers and denying patents for 16 other settlers. 
    September 5 - The bill to establish a distinct county from King & Queen County was introduced in the legislature by Robert Beverley, a burgess from Jamestown who held the clerkship for King & Queen County. 
    October 2 - The General Assembly passed and Governor Frances Nicholson assented to the enabling act creating a distinct county from the Pamunkey Neck section of King & Queen County. The new county was named for the reigning English monarch, King William III. Queen Mary II had died in 1694. 
1702 March - Governor Nicholson commissioned thirteen justices of the peace who collectively served as the local governing body, the county court, for the new County of King William.
    April 11 - The legislative act, which established King William County, became effective on the thirteenth anniversary of William and Mary's coronation. King William County became the 24th county in existence at that time in Virginia. King William County's royal namesake died on March 19th, only twenty-three days prior to the establishment of the county.
    June 20 - The King William County conducted its first election. John and Nathaniel West, brothers, were elected to represent the county in the lower house in the state legislature.
1704 The General Assembly enacted a general law establishing 15 towns, which reestablished Delaware Town. 
1707 June - The first lots in Delaware Town were sold.

1721 Spotsylvania County was formed from King William, King & Queen and Essex Counties. The new county was named after Alexander Spotswood, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1710-1722 under the nominal governorship of George Hamilton, 1st earl of Orkney. In 1716 Spotswood led an expedition of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe from Chelsea plantation in King William County to the Shenandoah Valley in order to advance its settlement.
1728 Caroline County was formed from King William, King & Queen and Essex Counties. The new county was named after Caroline of Anspach, the queen consort of the reigning English King George II.

1870 July 11 - The state legislative act, which established the present-day incorporated Town of West Point, became effective. 
    September 11 - The Town of West Point conducted its first council election.
1926 Port Richmond incorporated as a town pursuant to an act of the General Assembly.

1928 Port Richmond unincorporated as a town following the repeal of its municipal charter by the General Assembly.
1964 January 1 - The Town of West Point annexed the adjacent unincorporated Port Richmond area of the county. The annexation followed voter approval in an advisory referendum held on May 7, 1963.
Primary Sources: King William County Courthouse: A Memorial to Virginia Self-Government by Alonzo Thomas Dill, 1984; How Justice Grew, Virginia Counties: An Abstract of Their Foundation by Martha W. Hiden, 1957; The Hornbook of Virginia History: A Ready-Reference Guide to the Old Dominion's People, Places, and Past edited by Emily J. Salmon and Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr., 1994; Pocahontas's People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries by Helen C. Rountree, 1990; Tidewater Town: A Pictorial History of West Point, Virginia by Alonzo T. Dill, 1970; King William Celebrates Its 250th Anniversary by Dr. M. H. Harris in Program - 250th Anniversary of the Founding of King William County, Virginia, 1952; and West Point's History Begins Almost With the Founding of Nation by Elizabeth Stuart Gray in Program - 250th Anniversary of the Founding of King William County, Virginia, 1952.

What Else Happened in 1702?

King William III died of injuries sustained when he fell from his horse. Queen Anne succeeded the childless William, her brother-in-law, to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. She was the last Stuart monarch, the last English sovereign to exercise the royal veto (1707), and the first monarch of the joint Kingdom of Great Britain. Great Britain was created when Scotland was united with England and Wales in 1707 pursuant to the Act of Union. Like William III, her reign was marked by the continued transition to a parliamentary form of English government. In 1702 Anne approved horse racing and sweepstakes. She reigned until her death in 1714, but left no heirs to the throne as none of her 14 children survived her.
The War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713) began. It was the last of French King Louis XIV's wars for European domination. Known as Queen Anne's War in North America, it was the second of four wars on the continent between the British and French. In 1702 the British and Dutch destroyed a Franco-Spanish fleet, including several galleons laden with American gold and precious stones, in Spain's Bay of Vigo. Legendary English admiral, John Benbow, was mortally wounded during a four-day running battle with a French fleet in the Caribbean Sea off of the Columbian port city of Santa Marta. South Carolina troops sacked and burned the town of Saint Augustine, Florida but failed to capture the fort. Boston artisans and laborers began bread riots to prevent the export of grain during the war. England quit the war in 1711 after indecisive campaigns in Spain. The war ended with the Peace of Utrecht, which was a series of treaties from 1713 to 1715. Results of the war included: establishment of the Bourbons on the Spanish throne; restoration of the balance of power in European affairs; acquisition by the Austrian Habsburgs Empire of Spanish holdings in The Netherlands, Milan and Tuscany in Italy; acquisition by Great Britain of Newfoundland, Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and coastal areas of eastern Maine), and Hudson's Bay Territory from France and Gibraltar and Minorca from Spain; and the rise of the British Empire. 
During the Northern War, a general northern and eastern European conflict from 1700-1721, Swedish forces under King Charles XII captured Warsaw and Cracow, Poland. Russian Czar Peter I (also known as Peter the Great) captured Ingermanland where he later built his new capital of St. Petersburg. The hostilities primarily arose from the attempt by Sweden's neighboring countries to end Swedish dominance in the Baltic region and the clash of interests of Charles and Peter. The war, which ended with a sequence of treaties from 1719 to 1721, led to the establishment of Russia as a major European power and the decline of Swedish and Polish power. 
The Camisards of the Cevennes region of France, who were the last significant French Huguenot (Protestant) population, started a revolt largely put down by the French military by 1704, although guerilla activity lasted until 1710. The rebellion was a response to the persecutions that followed King Louis XIV's revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The edict had defined and guaranteed French Protestant rights since 1598. Its revocation and King Louis XIV's ruthless intolerance had other disastrous results including: the depopulation of entire provinces as Huguenots emigrated to England, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and America; the loss of a highly skilled and industrious segment of the nation which weakened the French economy; the increased detestation of Louis by England and Protestant Germany; and damage to the Roman Catholic Church's prestige. 
The proprietary governmental rights of English Quakers and other landowners in East and West Jersey, which were held since 1674, were surrendered to the English Crown. The landowners retained their proprietary property rights. The crown united the inhabitants under the royal governor of New York, who administered the unified colony until 1738. The unified royal colony took the original pre-partitioned name of New Jersey. 
The Virginia legislature enacted the bill creating Prince George County from Charles City County. The new county, which organized in 1703, became the 25th county existing at that time in Virginia.

The Maryland legislature passed a revised provincial Church Act establishing Anglicanism as the colony's official religion. Thomas Bray, an English clergyman and philanthropist selected by the bishop of London in 1696 as his commissary to establish the Anglican Church in Maryland, was instrumental in the passage of the legislation. 
Yale University, originally chartered in 1701 as a collegiate school for men, opened at Killingworth, Connecticut (present-day Clinton). It was finally moved to its present location in New Haven, Connecticut in 1716 and its name was changed to Yale College in 1718. Yale is the third oldest college in the United States; only Harvard University (1636) and the College of William and Mary (1693) are older. 
A yellow fever epidemic in New York, the second such epidemic in the colony since 1690, killed over 500 people during a three-month period. Approximately 300 people were killed in Boston during two epidemics that extended into 1703. The epidemics were Boston's third smallpox and first scarlet fever epidemics since 1633. 
French brothers, Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d'Iberville, and Jean Baptiste le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, founded the first permanent European settlement in what is now Alabama at Fort Louis de la Mobile, near the present-day City of Mobile. Along with settlements in Biloxi, Mississippi and Louisiana, Fort Louis de la Mobile was designed to check the Spanish advance in the region, control the present-day Gulf coast of the United States and prevent potential English occupation of the lower Mississippi River area. Mobile River floods forced relocation of the colony in 1710 to the site of the present-day City of Mobile. These settlements served as the capitol of the Louisiana Territory until it was moved to Biloxi in 1719 and then to New Orleans in 1722. 
Vincennes, the oldest town in present-day Indiana, was founded. It was the major military objective of George Rogers Clark's 1778 and 1779 Virginia-sponsored expeditions into the Old Northwest during the American Revolution. The latter operation resulted in the recapture of Fort Sackville along with General Henry Hamilton and his British garrison. Vincennes, originally a French settlement, was included in the Old Northwest and Canada occupied by the British in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War. The town was part of the Northwest Territory ceded to the United States by Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which formally ended the American War of Independence. Vincennes served as the first capitol of the Indiana Territory from 1800-1813. The capitol was relocated to Corydon in 1813 and eventually to Indianapolis in 1824-25. 
The construction of Buckingham Palace, adjacent to St. James' Park in London, was started. Originally completed in 1705, the residence was built for the first Duke of Buckingham and Normandy. King George III purchased the residence in 1761 and had it rebuilt as a palace for his wife, Queen Charlotte. The nearly 600-room palace has served as the chief residence of British sovereigns since July 1837, which was only three weeks after the accession of Queen Victoria.

A new Augustan Age (1702-1714) of flourishing literary life began in England. It was a period of such extraordinary literature by authors such as Jonathan Swift, Sir Richard Steele, Joseph Addison and Alexander Pope that contemporaries compared it with the legendary era of Virgil, Horace, Ovid and Livy during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus. The age was identified with the reign of English Queen Anne, although it extended well beyond her death in 1714. 
The Muradid Dynasty in Tunisia ended with the assassination of the Murad III, the last bey or provincial ruler of Tunisia under the Ottoman Empire, following a plot by Ibrahim al-Sharif, a military officer who immediately assumed offices of both the dey and bey. Algerian military forces then invaded Tunisia and captured al-Sharif but were finally repulsed by forces under Husayn ibn Ali, a Muradid cavalry officer who subsequently seized power.

The first daily English newspaper, The Daily Courant, began publication in London and the Moscow Gazette began publication by order of Czar Peter I (or Peter the Great).

Cotton Mather, the famous American Puritan clergyman and writer, published Magnalia Christi Americana, an ecclesiastical history of New England. 
David Gregory published Astronomiae physicae et geometricae elementa, which was a popular explanation of the theories of Sir Isaac Newton, the famous English mathematician and natural philosopher.

Cornelius van Bynkershoek, a Dutch writer on international law, completed his De dominio maris, which was a landmark book on maritime law.

Mount Popocatepetl (Aztec for "smoking mountain"), the second highest peak in Mexico at 17,887 feet, had its last major eruption.
Primary Sources:; The World Book Encyclopedia; The Columbia Encyclopedia; The Encyclopedia Britannica; The Encyclopedia of World History;;; and

King William Courthouse

King William County Courthouse was built about 1725. The one-room, T-shaped, hipped-roof structure likely replaced the original wooden frame courthouse structure. The historic building is not only the county's oldest public building, but is purportedly the oldest public building in use in Virginia and the oldest courthouse of English foundation in continuous use in the United States. The Circuit Court of King William County sits in the historic courthouse.
The courthouse was constructed of brick laid in Flemish bond. It is one of only three surviving Virginia courthouses - the others being Charles City County and Hanover County - with an arcade or a piazza imitating the first colonial capital in Williamsburg. The building is considered one of the finest examples of early colonial brickwork and courthouse design. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which maintains the Virginia Landmarks Register, considers the courthouse to be the best preserved of Virginia's eleven colonial era court buildings.
In 1840 the courthouse was enlarged and a brick wall was erected to enclose the court green and to keep livestock and poultry away from the buildings. It is one of the few remaining enclosed court greens in Virginia. A jail was constructed in 1890 on the site of the 1800s-era Clerk's Office that was destroyed by fire in 1885. A new Clerk's Office was established in the former jail in 1908. The Confederate monument was dedicated on the court green in 1904. The interior of the courthouse was extensively renovated about 1926 and again in 1983-84, the latter an effort to restore the building to more of its original 18th century appearance.
A new courthouse designed to modern court facility standards will be erected on the tract of county property located adjacent to the historic courthouse on Courthouse Lane (State Route 1301). The architecture of the new facility will be compatible with the historic courthouse, incorporating many of the features of the old building such as the piazza, hipped-roof and tall chimneys. The new 27,570-square foot facility will include: two courtrooms, judges chambers and three clerks offices for the Circuit, General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts; a hearing room; a deed and land records room; a Commonwealth's Attorney's office; a magistrate's office; a Victim-Witness Assistance Program office; and a Sheriff's Office with a dispatcher room, four holding cells and a secured sally port. Completion of the structure is tentatively projected for late 2003 or early 2004. Following occupancy of the new courthouse, the judges of the local courts will periodically perform some judicial functions in the historic courthouse so as to maintain the building's historic "continuous use" traditions.
Primary Sources: King William County Courthouse: A Memorial to Virginia Self-Government by Alonzo Thomas Dill, 1984; and King William Courthouse - Current Floor Plan with Mechanical Room at Rear of Building by Wiley & Wilson, Lynchburg, Virginia, March 14, 2002.

William III, the County's Namesake

King William III, also known as William of Orange, was born on November 14, 1650 in The Hague, Netherlands. He was the son of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, the oldest daughter of King Charles I of England. He married his English first cousin Mary Stuart, Protestant daughter of Roman Catholic King James II, in 1677.
William and Mary were invited to England by seven leaders of the English political parties, the Tory and Whig, who were concerned about James' absolutist royal leanings, his inability to cooperate with Parliament and Catholic succession to the throne following the birth of a son to James in 1688. William landed in Torbay at Devonshire with army of some 15,000 men on November 5, 1688. James' forces deserted him, whereupon he abdicated the throne and, in December, was allowed by William to flee to France with his wife and son. The new monarchs were crowned King William III and Queen Mary II of England, Scotland and Ireland during a coronation in Westminster Abbey on April 11, 1689. William and Mary's ascension to the throne became known as the Glorious or Bloodless Revolution. It prevented the Catholic succession of the monarchy. In Virginia, it helped secure the General Assembly's legitimacy as a permanent branch of government.
William reigned during an almost unprecedented period in the transition to a parliamentary form of English government that marked the end of royal prerogative. The significant enhancement of the rights and powers of Parliament and the diminishment of those of the crown characterized this transition. William's signing of the Declaration of Rights (later called the Bill of Rights) in 1689 effectively specified the conditions upon which the throne was offered to the sovereigns. The Bill of Rights was a major victory for Parliament as it greatly limited royal powers such as the authority to suspend or dispense with laws, stipulated a Protestant line of royal succession, and reserved to Parliament control of taxation, finances and the army. The Act of Settlement in 1701 specified royal succession, required the monarch to be a member of the Church of England and placed the first parliamentary limits on the royal control of foreign policy and war-making authority. The Triennial Act in 1694 required a new Parliament every three years. Other significant political developments during William's reign included: establishment of a national debt policy in 1692 and the Bank of England in 1694 that were directly related to England's more active role in international affairs; enhancement of freedom of the press through the expiration of the License Act in 1695; and elimination of some of the legal disqualifications imposed upon Protestant nonconformists through the Toleration Act of 1689.

William's reign also transpired during the early years of the Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason), an intellectual movement that originated in England in the seventeenth century, but then had widespread global influence. The Age, which is considered a significant demarcation in the emergence of the modern world, was a period of extensive scientific discovery and political and social thought that fostered the belief in natural law and universal order and the confidence in human reason. A rational and scientific approach to religious, social, political and economic matters encouraged a secular perception of the world, a general sense of progress and a belief that the state was its logical instrument. Among the most noteworthy of the English intellectuals who were emerging during William's rule were: Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician and natural philosopher (physicist); John Locke, a philosopher and political theorist; Jonathan Swift, an author and satirist; and Sir Richard Steele, an essayist and playwright.
William was an adept soldier and astute diplomat. He spent much of his adult life in The Netherlands and England opposing through military means and political alliances among European countries French King Louis XIV's efforts to annex the Spanish Empire. His European alliances formed the opposition to Louis during the War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697), or King William's War as it was known on the American continent, and the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-1713) following his death. In Scotland, his victory over the Louis-supported Jacobites at Killieurankie in 1689 secured Scottish Presbyterianism. The Jacobites were supporters of the exiled royal House of Stuart that sought restoration of James II to the throne. William defeated French and Jacobite Irish forces under James II on July 1, 1690 at the Battle of Boyne, near Dublin, Ireland. William's victory, James's flight to France and the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 ended the former monarch's counterrevolutionary attempt to reclaim the throne and resulted in harsher Penal Laws designed to keep Roman Catholics powerless. The Protestants of Ulster, Ireland, supported William and are still called Orangemen.
Although William was an able monarch, he was unpopular among some of his subjects largely because they did not understand his foreign ways and he did not understand the English political system. He ruled jointly with his popular wife, Mary - although she only actually ruled during his absences, primarily on military expeditions - until she died from smallpox in 1694 at the age of 32. Following Mary's death, he governed alone until his death on March 19, 1702 in London, England, at the age of 51. He died of complications from injuries sustained when he was thrown off his horse. His death occurred only twenty-three days before the thirteenth anniversary of William and Mary's coronation and the establishment of the Virginia county bearing his name. In accordance with the Act of Settlement in 1701, his sister-in-law, Anne, succeeded the childless William to the throne.
More Virginia counties and cities are named, at least in part, for William than any other person. These are the County of King William, the County of King and Queen, and the City of Williamsburg. The College of William and Mary, the second oldest college in the United States, was also named after King William III and Queen Mary II, who granted it a royal charter in 1693.
Primary Sources: The World Book Encyclopedia; The Columbia Encyclopedia; The Encyclopedia of World History; and

U.S. Decennial Census Population

YearPopulationChange from Previous Census
2007 Estimate15,3152,16916.5
2010 Projection16,0032,85721.73

Note: Parentheses denote negative numbers or percentages.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia

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