Dutchess County is a county located in the south east corner of the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 297,488. The county seat is Poughkeepsie. The county was created in 1683 and later organized in 1713.
Prior to Anglo-Dutch settlement, what is today Dutchess County was a leading center for the native Wappinger peoples. They had their council-fire at what is now present-day Fishkill Hook, and also held gatherings along the Danskammer. On November 1, 1683, the Province of New York established its first twelve counties, with Dutchess County being one of them. Its boundaries at that time included the present Putnam County, and a small portion of the present Columbia County (the towns of Clermont and Germantown). The county was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, second wife of James, Duke of York (later James II, King of England). "Dutchess" is an archaic form of duchess.
The Province of New York and the Connecticut Colony negotiated an agreement on November 28, 1683, establishing their border as east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. The east of the Byram River making up the Connecticut Panhandle were granted to Connecticut, in recognition of the wishes of the residents. In exchange, Rye was granted to New York, along with a wide strip of land running north from Ridgefield to Massachusetts alongside the New York counties of Westchester, Putnam then Dutchess, known as "The Oblong". The eastern half of the stub of land in northeast Dutchess County containing Rudd Pond and Taconic State Park is the northernmost extension of The Oblong.
Until 1713, Dutchess was administered by Ulster County. On October 23, 1713 Queen Anne gave permission for Dutchess County to elect its own officers from among their own population including a Supervisor, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor and Treasurer. In 2013, Dutchess County celebrated its 300th anniversary of democracy based upon a legislative resolution sponsored by County Legislator Michael Kelsey from Salt Point. In 1812, Putnam County was detached from Dutchess.
In the twelve years 1685–1697 lawful patents had been granted securing for their purchasers every foot of Hudson River shoreline in the original county. Three additional patents, to 1706, laid claim to the remaining interior lands.
From 1683 to 1715 most of the settlers in Dutchess County were Dutch. Many of these moved in from Albany and Ulster Counties. They settled along the Fishkill River and in the areas that are now Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck.
From 1715 to 1730 most of the new settlers in Dutchess county were Germans. From 1730 until 1775 New Englanders were the main new settlers in Dutchess County.
Franklin D. Roosevelt lived in his family home in Hyde Park, overlooking the Hudson River. His family's home is now the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, managed by the National Park Service.
Prior to the 1960s, Dutchess County was primarily agricultural. Since then the southwestern part (from Poughkeepsie south and From the Taconic State Parkway westward) of the county has developed into a largely residential area, suburban in character, with many of its residents commuting to jobs in New York City. The northern and eastern regions of the county remain rural with large farmlands but at the same time developed residences used during the summer and or on weekends by people living in the New York City urban area.