The history of King William County dates back to the earliest days of the English settlement of the New World. Prior to the colonial period, present-day King William County and the surrounding regions were parts of the Powhatan Confederacy, which encompassed much of eastern Virginia and included about 30 Algonquian tribes. At the time of the English arrival, the Confederacy was led by Wahunsonacock, also known as “Powhatan.” Powhatan is probably known best for his daughter, Pocahontas who, in 1614, married Englishman John Rolfe. Their marriage helped to secure peace between the Powhatan Confederacy and the English colonists.
Jamestown & Subsequent Settlement
In 1607, the English established the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown. In 1608, Captain John Smith’s explorations brought him to the Powhatan town of Cinquoteck, or Paumenkee Town. Some 45 years later in 1653, John West was awarded a land patent of 3,000 acres at this site which he named “West Point.” The region changed many times, with new counties being carved out from the old.
For several decades, present-day King William County was part of King and Queen County. In 1701, the General Assembly passed an act which called for the creation of a new county from a portion of King and Queen county. The act became effective on 11 April 1702, establishing King William County as the 24th county in Virginia. The county was named for King William III, king of England 1689-1702.
King William Courthouse is the oldest courthouse in continuous use in the United States. It was built in 1725. The historic complex houses the original courthouse, the jailhouse and the clerk’s office. The clerk’s office is home to the Historical Society of King William’s museum.
Stay tuned for upcoming Road to Revolution events.
While there are currently no events listed specifically for King William County, search the VA250 Statewide Calendar of Events for a comprehensive listing of programs across the state.