Warwick County, Virginia

Coordinates: 37°7′46.7″N 76°32′31.8″W / 37.129639°N 76.542167°W / 37.129639; -76.542167
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37°7′46.7″N 76°32′31.8″W / 37.129639°N 76.542167°W / 37.129639; -76.542167

1903 Map depicting Warwick County and other "lost counties" of Virginia. Warwick was originally one of the eight shires created in colonial Virginia in 1634. It was consolidated with the independent city of Newport News in 1958.
Skiffe's Creek formed the border of Warwick County and James City County beginning in 1634. It is a tributary of the James River

Warwick County was a county in Southeast Virginia that was created from Warwick River Shire, one of eight created in the Virginia Colony in 1634. It became the City of Newport News on July 16, 1952. Located on the Virginia Peninsula on the northern bank of the James River between Hampton Roads and Jamestown, the area consisted primarily of farms and small unincorporated villages until the arrival of the Peninsula Extension of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway in 1881 and development led by industrialist Collis P. Huntington.

With the railroad came the coal piers, several local stations in Warwick County for passenger service and shipping produce and seafood to markets, and a branch link to the resorts and military facilities in neighboring Elizabeth City County at Old Point Comfort. The community at the southeastern edge on the harbor of Hampton Roads became Newport News in 1896, hosting the world's largest shipyard.

At the outset of World War I, the U.S. Army facility which became Fort Eustis was established in the county. After the war, Camp Patrick Henry, a former military facility, became the site of Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport. After sparring over annexations and exploring various plans to refine and/or combine local governments, by mutual agreement, after existing for over 325 years, the City of Warwick was politically consolidated with the younger city of Newport News on July 1, 1958. The better known name of "Newport News" was assumed for the combined entity, forming one of the contemporary cities of Hampton Roads.

Colonial period[edit]

During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. By 1634, the English colony of Virginia consisted of eight shires or counties with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants.

Warwick River Shire took its name from Robert Rich, second Earl of Warwick and a prominent member of the Virginia Company who was proprietor of Richneck Plantation. Warwick River Shire became Warwick County in 1643.

The first courthouse and jail were located at Warwick Towne, established in 1680. The colonial port was located at Deep Creek and the Warwick River on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of Samuel Mathews' land.[1]

From as early as 1635, Warwick River County included the Anglican Parishes of Blount Point, Denbigh,[2] Mulberry Island, Nutmeg Quarter, Stanley Hundred, Warwick, and Waters Creek. The parishes served as smaller local units of government and religious and community organizations.[3]

American Revolutionary War[edit]

Warwick County became an important site for shipbuilding during the American Revolutionary War. During the inaugural session of the Virginia General Assembly, the senate began acquiring lands for naval manufacturing. Charles O. Paullin states that "no other state owned as much land, properties, and manufactories devoted to naval purposes as Virginia.[4] Sampson Mathews from nearby Augusta County oversaw the operation stationed at Warwick, the most important of Virginia's ship works.[5]

Following the war, the General Assembly passed the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, disestablishing the Church of England in Virginia and effectively dissolving the original colonial parishes within the county.

Statehood, 19th century[edit]

Warwick County recorded 1,690 persons in the federal census of 1790, making it the third smallest county population-wise in Virginia. In 1809, Warwick Towne was abandoned, and the county seat was moved to the area of Denbigh, near Stoney Run.

The new county seat was at Denbigh, where in 1810 Warwick's first brick courthouse was built.[6] It also served as clerk's office and jail. In 1884, a large courthouse was erected on the same tract, the clerk retaining the old building. Both served until the merger with the city of Newport News in 1958.

C&O brings railroad transportation, development of a new city[edit]

Immediately after the end of the American Civil War in 1865, land agents began acquiring land in Warwick County for Collis P. Huntington, the railroad magnate, for "future enterprise". On the basis of these land purchases, the original city of Newport News was to be built at the southern end of the county. In 1880, Huntington formed the Old Dominion Land Company, to which he turned over his holdings. The following year, in 1881, it was announced that Newport News had been chosen as the Atlantic deep water terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O). Construction work on the C&O's Peninsula Extension began at Newport News Point in December 1880. A second crew began building east from Richmond in February 1881. They met 1.25 miles (2.01 km) west of Williamsburg on October 16, 1881.

The C&O provided the promised transportation by rail to the Yorktown Centennial on October 19. During the next few years, Huntington developed the southeastern area of the county extensively, notably building the new Hotel Warwick. In 1886, Huntington established Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.

The boom community of Newport News became an independent city in 1896 by an act of the Virginia General Assembly, one of the few cities in Virginia to have never been incorporated as a town and it became Virginia's third largest city in population at one time.

20th-century military facilities[edit]

In 1918, Warwick County became the site of the military installation, Camp Abraham Eustis, later renamed Fort Eustis. The U.S. Army base, hastily constructed during World War I near the mouth of the Warwick River, included Mulberry Island. Lee Hall, Virginia was the closest railroad station and handled a large volume of troop traffic, especially during World War II when Camp Patrick Henry was established nearby. Camp Patrick Henry served primarily as a troop staging ground during World War II under the control of the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation.[7][8] The camp, founded in late 1942, was an approximately 1,700-acre (6.9 km2) complex, built in largely virgin forest.[9] At its peak, Camp Patrick Henry had a capacity of approximately 35,000.[10] After World War II, it closed and the land was redeveloped as a commercial airport, now known as Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport.

Historical Population[edit]

Historical population
1790-1950 Population as Warwick County


Presidential Elections Results[11]
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
1956 56.4% 4,872 39.4% 3,406 4.2% 362
1952 54.0% 3,307 45.8% 2,806 0.2% 11
1948 32.0% 1,014 57.6% 1,822 10.4% 329
1944 30.3% 807 69.5% 1,849 0.2% 5
1940 22.2% 305 77.6% 1,065 0.2% 3
1936 18.6% 200 80.9% 870 0.5% 5
1932 26.9% 242 71.7% 645 1.4% 13
1928 60.9% 465 39.1% 298
1924 18.0% 58 76.8% 248 5.3% 17
1920 40.8% 109 56.9% 152 2.3% 6
1916 35.3% 53 64.7% 97
1912 9.9% 17 71.5% 123 18.6% 32

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Appendix Historic sites". Archived from the original on 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2023-11-11.
  2. ^ "Denbigh Parish". The Historical Marker Database.
  3. ^ Cocke, Charles Francis Cocke (1964). Parish Lines, Diocese of Southern Virginia.
  4. ^ Paullin, Charles O. (1906). The Navy of the American Revolution (dissertation). The University of Chicago. Retrieved online April 21, 2014 from https://archive.org/details/navyamericanrev01paulgoog
  5. ^ . Stewart, Robert A. (1934). The History of Virginia's Navy of the Revolution. The University of Virginia: Mitchell & Hotchkiss, p. 136. Retrieved April 21, 2014 from http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=mathews;id=uc1.%24b727189;view=1up;seq=140;start=1;size=10;page=search;num=136#view=1up;seq=140
  6. ^ "Old Warwick County Courthouse - Newport News, VA - 23602 Attractions, Tourist". www.discoverourtown.com. Retrieved Apr 26, 2020.
  7. ^ Wardlow, Chester (1956). The Technical Services—The Transportation Corps: Movements, Training, And Supply. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 121. LCCN 55-60003.
  8. ^ Bykofsky, Joseph; Larson, Harold (1990). The Technical Services—The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas. United States Army In World War II. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 194. LCCN 56-60000.
  9. ^ William Reginald Wheeler (ed.). The Road to Victory: A History of the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkment during World War II. Newport News, Va.: Yale University Press, 1946.
  10. ^ "Historichamptonroads.com". historichamptonroads.com. Retrieved Apr 26, 2020.
  11. ^ "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". uselectionatlas.org. Retrieved Apr 26, 2020.

External links[edit]