Onslow County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 177,772. Its county seat is Jacksonville. The county was created in 1734 as Onslow Precinct and gained county status in 1739.
Onslow County comprises the Jacksonville, NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. The southern border is the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
European and English settlers arrived here in 1713 in what was originally part of the colonial precincts of Carteret and New Hanover. Onslow County was formed in 1734 and was named for the Honorable Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the British House of Commons. After a lethal 1752 hurricane, the county courthouse was relocated from Town Point to Wantland’s Ferry; this settlement was eventually incorporated in 1842 and named Jacksonville after President Andrew Jackson. Through much of the first half of the 20th century, the county was largely rural, with an economy based on agrarian and maritime communities.
During World War II, Onslow County was dramatically changed in the early 1940s with the establishment of the United States Army Camp Davis near Holly Ridge (now defunct), and the creation of Camp Lejeune in 1941. This increased county population and generated related growth in housing and businesses.
Onslow County’s flat, rolling terrain covers and is located in the southeastern coastal plain of North Carolina, approximately east of Raleigh and north of Wilmington. The city of Jacksonville is the county seat, and the areas surrounding the city constitute the major population centers and growth areas in the county. The county is home to more than 150,000 people and includes the incorporated towns of Holly Ridge, Richlands, Swansboro, North Topsail Beach, part of Surf City, and unincorporated Sneads Ferry. The U.S. Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune comprises approximately ; more than 43,000 marines and sailors are stationed there.