Elizabeth City County was a county in southeastern Virginia from 1634 to 1952. Originally created in 1634 as Elizabeth River Shire, it was one of eight shires created in the Virginia Colony by order of the King of England. In 1636, it was subdivided, and the portion north of the harbor of Hampton Roads became known as Elizabeth City Shire. It was renamed Elizabeth City County a short time later.
Elizabeth City was originally named Kikotan (also spelled Kecoughtan and Kikowtan), presumably a word for the Native Americans living there when the English arrived in 1607. They were friendly to the English, but Sir Thomas Gates either worried about safety (including potential attack by the Spaniards and the Dutch) or coveted their corn fields after the "starving time" of the 1609-10 winter. The English stole their land while the men were out hunting, and for some reason, the natives never attacked the settlement in response.
The town of Hampton, established in 1680, became the largest city in Elizabeth City County, and was the county seat. In 1952, Elizabeth City County merged with Hampton and is today the independent city of Hampton. The city also includes the former Town of Phoebus, resulting in modern-day Hampton encompassing nearly all of what was Elizabeth City County.
Since the English settlers occupied the former Indian village of Kecoughtan in 1610, and the town at Jamestown was eventually abandoned, the city of Hampton now claims to be the oldest continuously-settled English city in North America.
Elizabeth City County is a former county.
Note: Hampton city, formed from Elizabeth City County (1908). The remainder of the county was annexed to the city in 1952; the city/county combination is listed under Hampton.. Newport News city, formed from Warwick County, with some annexations from Elizabeth City County (now Hampton city). The remainder of Warwick County became Warwick city in 1952 and then was annexed to Newport News city in 1958; the city/county combination is listed under Newport News.