Modern Henrico County
Henrico County (formerly Henrico Shire) , officially the County of Henrico, is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 306,935. In 2013, the population was estimated to be 316,973, making it the fifth-most populous county in Virginia and the sixth-most populous county-equivalent in Virginia. Henrico County is included in the Richmond, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Named after the Citie of Henricus, Henrico became one of the eight original Shires of Virginia in 1634. It is one of the oldest counties in the United States. The City of Richmond was officially part of Henrico County until 1842, when it became a fully independent city. The present-day Henrico County curves around the City of Richmond, surrounding it to the west, north, and east. The county is bounded by the Chickahominy River to the north and the James River and Richmond to the south.
Richmond International Raceway is located in the central portion of Henrico County near Mechanicsville, just north of the Richmond city limits. Additionally, Richmond International Airport is located in the eastern portion of Henrico County in Sandston. Top private employers in the county include Capital One, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, and Anthem.
In 1611, Thomas Dale founded the Citie of Henricus on an island in the James River that is now called Farrar's Island. Henricus was named for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales and was destroyed during the Indian massacre of 1622.
In 1634, Henrico Shire became one of the eight original Shires of Virginia established by the British in the Virginia Colony. Since then, 11 counties and 3 independent cities have been formed from the original territory of Henrico Shire.
Richmond attempted to completely merge with Henrico 1961, but 61% of the votes in a referendum in Henrico voted against the merger. In 1965, Richmond attempted to annex 145 square miles of Henrico County. However, after a lengthy court battle, the city was only given permission to annex 17 square miles. Since the city would have had to reimburse Henrico a hefty $55 million, Richmond opted to not annex the 17 square miles.
In 1981, the Virginia General Assembly placed a moratorium on all annexations throughout the state. Henrico's borders have not changed since Richmond's 1942 annex.
The original county seat was at Varina, at the Varina Farms plantation across the James River from Henricus. John Rolfe built this plantation, where he lived with his wife, Pocahontas. Henrico's government was located at Varina from around 1640 until 1752.
In 1752, Henrico relocated its seat to a more central location inside the city Richmond between Church Hill and what is now Tobacco Row. The county seat remained at 22nd and Main St in Richmond even after the city's government became fully independent of the county in 1842. It was not until 1974 when the county moved out of the Old Henrico County Courthouse to a complex in the western portion of the county at the intersection of Parham Road and Hungary Springs Road in Laurel.
In addition to the 1974 complex, in 1988 the county opened its Eastern Governmental Center to be more convent to county residents in the Eastern portion of the county. It is located on Nine Mile Road.
American Civil War battle sites
Additional significant battles took place in 1864 during the Overland Campaign prior to and during the Siege of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond. Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded in Henrico County at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 12, 1864.
Note: Richmond city, formed from Henrico County, but has annexed much territory from Chesterfield County; annexed Manchester city (originally formed from Chesterfield) in 1910.
County Specific Research Sources
Source:Chamberlayne, 1898 The vestry book and register of Bristol Parish, Virginia, 1720-1789 (covers modern Henrio and Chesterfield Counties.