On one side of Northampton County is the Atlantic Ocean; on the other side is the Chesapeake Bay. It was first explored by Captain John Smith in 1608. The county seat has been in Eastville since 1715. Court records dating from 1632 are housed there; they are the oldest continuous English court records in the United States. Originally this county had been named “Ye Plantacon of Accawmacke,” meaning “over-the-water” or “on-the-other-side-of-the-water” place. In 1643, the name was changed to Northampton after Northamptonshire in England. This was the birthplace of two prominent local citizens. Northampton was one of the eight counties, or shires, into which Virginia was divided in 1643. Northampton County Chapter was named for this county in which it resides.