Essex County, Virginia History

About Essex County

Formed in 1692 from Rappahannock County, Essex County was probably named after Essex County, England. It is located in the Tidewater area of Virginia with its county seat of Tappahannock located on the banks of the Rappahannock River. This location has played a significant role in the history of the county - especially during the three wars fought on Virginia's soil.1

As an early Virginia county, Essex has been the county of origin for many families that later migrated westward and southward. Descendants of many of the old Essex families still reside in the area. Fortunately for researchers, Essex County was spared the ravages of the Civil War which saw the destruction of court houses (and their records) in many neighboring counties. It has also escaped natural disaster and fires which have caused record loss in other counties. Its records survive virtually intact providing researchers a wealth of genealogical information.

Present-day Essex County covers an area of 265.98 square miles with a population of under 9,000. The county is primarily rural with several small communities such as Millers Tavern, Dunnsville, Champlain, Loretto, Laneview, Mount Landing, Caret, and Hustle located within its borders.2

(Sources: 1. Settlers, Southerners, Americans, The History of Essex County, Virginia 1608-1984 by James B. Slaughter, copyright Essex County Board of Supervisors, 1985. 2. Essex County General Highway Map, Virginia Department of highways and Transportation, 1985.)

Essex County VAGenWeb Page

This page was last updated 8/16/2003