1 Virginia County Named After an English Island

  1. Isle of Wight, Organized 1634

The shire of Hants, sometimes called Hampshire, furnished the names for two Virginia counties. In 1754 Virginia had a county organized and called Hampshire, after the English shire itself. This county, now greatly reduced in size, is the oldest county within the limits of the present State of West Virginia. One of the New England States also is named after the English shire.

The Isle of Wight, near the mainland of England, is a part of Hants, a shire in the southern part of England. The county in southeastern Virginia probably received its name from this Isle of Wight.1 The present name of the county was adopted in 1637, but for the first three years of its existence the county was called Warrosquyoake;2 also spelled Warrasqueake. Warrosquyoake is the name of an Indian tribe whose king warned Captain Smith that Powhatan was not to be trusted too much, even if appearances should indicate that no harm was meditated. Smith was just then going to visit Powhatan in order to procure com. Powhatan tried hard to get Captain Smith into his power, but the Englishman was too good a strategist to be deceived by the pretensions of the Indian. Smithfield, the principal town of the county, was established in 1752, and takes its name from Arthur Smith, the original owner of the land.3 Near Smithfield is an old church, which is said to have been built by Sir Joseph Bridger in 1632. The church was originally a splendid structure, and for many years it stood in ruins, but has lately been repaired, and is used by the Methodist Episcopal Church South.

Among other industries, Smithfield contains the largest establishment in the State devoted to the peanut trade.

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. My theory supported by Dr. B. W. Green. 

  2. Cooke’s “Virginia,” pp. 50-51. 

  3. Whitehead’s **Virginia Handbook,” p. 266. 

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