14 Virginia Counties Named After the House of Hanover

  1. Brunswick, Organized 1720
  2. Hanover, Organized 1720
  3. King George, Organized 1720
  4. Caroline, Organized 1727
  5. Prince William, Organized 1730
  6. Amelia, Organized 1734
  7. Frederick, Organized 1738
  8. Augusta, Organized 1738
  9. Louisa, Organized 1742
  10. Lunenburg, Organized 1745
  11. Cumberland, Organized 1748
  12. Prince Edward, Organized 1753
  13. Charlotte, Organized 1764
  14. Mecklenburg, Organized 1764

At Queen Anne’s death, in 17 14, the House of Hanover came into peaceful possession of the English throne. This line of sovereigns was so called because the German province of Hanover, with its various duchies, became subject to the English crown when George, the Elector of Hanover, became also ruler of England. Hanover remained a part of the British kingdom until 1837, when Victoria became queen of the English. It then became independent of England, for, by the German law of succession, no female could reign in Hanover.

Fourteen Virginia counties bear names pertaining to the family of Hanover, and, as might be expected from early settled counties, most of them are in the eastern part of the State. .They were all named within a period of forty-five years, beginning in 1720 and ending in 1764. After the latter date names associated with American independence begin to be prominent among the Virginia counties.

Brunswick, Hanover, and King George counties, all three named in 1720, bear emphatic evidence of Virginia’s loyalty to the home government in England. Hanover and Brunswick are named in honor of the House of Hanover and the House of Brunswick respectively, though of course the families derived their names in the first case from the German province of Hanover, and in the second case from the duchy of Brunswick, which formed a part of Hanover. King George County bears the name of the king himself, George I, who ruled over England and Hanover from 1714 to 1727.

In 1727 George II succeeded his father as king, and during the thirty-three years of his reign nine Virginia counties were named in honor of various members of the royal family. The king’s wife, two sons, two daughters, a grandson, a son-in-law, and a daughter-in-law were thus complimented. Moreover, an-other county, Lunenburg, was named in honor of the king himself, for one of the king’s titles was duke of Brunswick-Lunebürg, Lunebürg being the German form of Lunenburg.

Caroline county was formed in 1727, the first year of George II’s reign, and derived its name from the new sovereign’s wife, Queen Caroline. Caroline was a woman of character and ability and exercised considerable influence on English politics during the ten years that she lived after becoming queen.

Two counties are named in honor of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and favorite – though not the oldest – son of George II. When the prince was only nine years old Prince William County received his name, in 1730. Eighteen years later, when William was commander-in-chief of the British army,1 Cumberland county was named in honor of the duke, in this instance, however, taking his title for that purpose. The duke had won great popularity by his decisive victory over the “Young Pretender” at Culloden in 1746, and a triumphal demonstration was made at Norfolk, Va., in honor of the victory. England rewarded Prince William with an annual pension of £40,000, or about $200,000, in gratitude to him for destroying forever the hopes the Stuarts may have entertained of gaining the English crown. The duke’s subsequent military career, however, was quite unsuccessful. On his return from an unfortunate war in Hanover he resigned from the army, and was not again given office. He died in 1765.

The county of Amelia was organized in 1734, and takes its name from Amelia Sophia, second daughter of George II. The county of Orange was named in the same year to honor King George’s son-in-law, the Prince of Orange, who had just married Anne, the king’s oldest daughter. The accomplished and imperious Amelia never married. The princess was addicted to the habit of taking snuff, and on her snuff-box was inscribed, “Noli me tangere” (Don’t touch me). An old army officer once disregarded the injunction and helped himself to some snuff from Amelia’s snuff-box, whereupon the indignant Amelia had the remainder of the contents of the box cast into the fire. She was born in 1711, and lived through the entire reigns of her grandfather and father, and her nephew, George III, had been twenty-six years king when she died in 1786.

Louisa County was named in 1742 in compliment to Princess Louisa, the fifth and youngest daughter of George II, and was then a graceful, talented and amiable young lady of eighteen. She married Frederick V of Denmark the next year, and died in 175 1, at the age of twenty-seven.

Frederick and Augusta Counties were named in 1738 in honor of the Prince of Wales and his wife, who had just become the happy parents of a son. Twenty-two years later this son succeeded his grandfather as king of England, with the title of George III. Frederick himself died in 1751, during his father’s reign, and so never became king. The city of Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania County was founded in 1727 and named after Prince Frederick, when the prince was twenty-one years old.

Frederick’s character was full of contradictions, and his faults were neither few nor small; but he was a friend to authors, and he encouraged painting. He even attempted poetry himself, and most of his verse, which was wretched, was written in praise of his wife. Augusta’s intelligence, her kindness, and her virtue, at a time when license and immorality abounded, deserved the efforts of a better poet.

Augusta was only seventeen when the royal yacht, William and Mary, carried her from her home in Saxe-Gotha to become the bride of Frederick, Prince of Wales, in 1736. As has been said, Augusta herself never became queen of England, but from her have descended all the sovereigns of England since her day. Victoria was her great-granddaughter, and thus Edward VII is her great-great-grandson. Augusta lived to see England attain a greater tide of power than she had ever before reached, and she died before the ebb set in: immense possessions had just been wrenched from France in North America, and the foundations of Britain’s power had been securely laid in India. It was in 1772, just before the tyranny of George III had lost to England the greater part of her North American possessions that Augusta died.

Edward Augustus, second son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, was fourteen years old when Prince Edward County was named after him in 1753. During the splendid and elaborate marriage of King George III to Queen Charlotte in 1761, Edward proved very helpful to his royal brother by his kindly tact. The prince, who seems to have been of a witty and sunshiny disposition, was created Duke of York. He never married, and died in 1761, at the age of twenty-eight.

When the Virginians formed a new county from Brunswick in 1746, they realized that, although the reigning king’s wife and various members of the royal household had been honored in naming Virginia counties, no such honor had been paid directly to the king himself.

The name King George had already been given in honor of George I, and Prince George was not suitable for a king, besides, there was already a Prince George county. But the supply of titles by which George II could be called was not yet exhausted, and accordingly the new county received the name of Lunenburg, the English rendering of the German Luneburg, for George II, as well as his father, George I, was Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg. This name seems especially appropriate when we consider that Lunenburg County was taken directly from Brunswick. Luneburg and Brunswick were at one time separate duchies, but in George II’s time they constituted a single duchy, Brunswick-Luneburg, and were a part of the kingdom of Hanover.

The State of Georgia bears the name of George II.

Three Virginia counties were named to honor George I, ten to honor George II, and two to honor George III, and both of the last were named in complement to Queen Charlotte, wife of George III. Both counties were taken from Lunenburg, and both were formed in 1764. Charlotte County takes its name directly from Queen Charlotte. Mecklenburg also is named in honor of the queen, but indirectly so, for its gets its name from the German duchy, or rather grand-duchy, of Mecklenburg2-Strelitz, from which Charlotte came, and of which her brother was the duke. Charlottesville, Va., was founded soon after Charlotte became queen, and was named in her honor.

Charlotte Sophia, sister of the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, married young King George III in 1761, and was fifty-seven years queen of England. Fifteen children sprang from this marriage, and all but two grew up. There were nine sons and six daughters; the aggregate age of the sons was 494 years; of the daughters, 371 years. The average age of the fifteen children was 56 years and 8 months; twelve attained the age of 50 years, ten of these reached 60 years, eight attained 70 years, and two lived to be 80. The average age of George III and Queen Charlotte was over 75 years.

Brunswick, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, and Charlotte Counties are situated together in southern Virginia, just east of the center, and are watered by North Carolina streams. Prince Edward lies north of Charlotte and Lunenburg, and is drained chiefly by Appomattox waters. Amelia and Cumberland, to the northeast of Prince Edward, are separated from each other by the Appomattox River; Willis River drains a large part of Cumberland County. Hanover separates Louisa County from Caroline. The North Anna and South Anna Rivers drain Louisa, flow southeast, and, together with the Pamunkey and Chickahominy, also drain Henrico. Caroline is watered by the Rappahannock, Mattapony, and North Anna Rivers.

King George lies on the opposite side of the Rappahannock from Caroline, and has the Potomac on its northern boundary. Prince William, also adjacent to the Potomac, has the now famous stream of Bull Run on a part of its northern border, while the village of Manassas is within its territory.

Frederick, in the Shenandoah Valley, is the most northern county in the State; while Augusta, also in the Valley, is the largest county in Virginia.

Mecklenburg County is justly famed for its wonderful mineral springs.

Among the Hanover counties, Hanover itself gave birth to Patrick Henry and to Henry Clay. King George was the birthplace of President Madison. Prince William County makes the old Confederate soldier thrill with pride as he remembers the two brilliant victories of First and Second Manassas.

Source: Virginia Country Names: Two Hundred and Seventy Years of Virginia History, Charles M, Long, PH.D., New York and Washington, The Neale Publishing Company, 1908

  1. Dr. B. W. Green, an authority on matters of Virginia history, supports me in this explanation of the name of Cumberland County in Virginia. Spencer’s “North Carolina History” says that a North Carolina county was named after the duke in 1754. The “American Cyclopedia” says that Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, was, in 1750, named after the shire of that name in the north-west of England. 

  2. The German duchy of Mecklenburg is divided into the two grand duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Mecklinburg-Schwerin. 

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