Orleans County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 42,883. The county seat is Albion. The name is in honor of the French Royal House of Orleans.
When counties were established in New York State in 1683, the present Orleans County was part of Albany County. When the county was formed, a dispute arose about naming it after Andrew Jackson or John Adams; the conflict was ended by choosing the name Orleans. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.
On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately five miles west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.
In the years prior to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County in order to honor the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.
In 1789, Ontario County was split off from Montgomery.
In 1802, Genesee County was created by a splitting of Ontario County . This was much larger than the present Genesee County, however, containing the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties, and parts of Livingston and Monroe Counties.
In 1806, Genesee County was reduced in size by the splitting off of Allegany County. In 1808, Genesee County was further reduced in size by the splitting off of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, and Niagara Counties. Niagara County at that time also included the present Erie County.
In 1821, Genesee County was reduced in size by the splitting off of portions which were combined with portions of Ontario County to create Livingston and Monroe Counties. By this time Genesee County had been reduced considerably in size from its original area of 1802, still containing the present Orleans and Wyoming Counties in addition to its present area, however.
In 1824, Orleans County was created from what was left of Genesee County.