ABOUT JAMES CITY COUNTY
James City County, Virginia, covers 144 square miles, has a population of about 35,000 people, and the county seat is the city of Williamsburg. The County's main economic activity is tourism. As the home of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, and Colonial Williamsburg, known worldwide for its authentic reconstruction of eighteenth century life, James City County hosts visitors year-round from all over the world. Williamsburg is also home to The Williamsburg Winery, Virginia's largest winery, with public tours and a wine bottle museum.
The College of William and Mary, second oldest college in the U.S., is located in the heart of Williamsburg.
James City County took its name from James City, the original name of Jamestown. Both were named in honor of James I of England (1566-1625), "who never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one." He defended himself on the ground that his words were his own, but his actions were his ministers'.
The county grew from the 1607 Jamestown settlement to become one of the "Four Ancient Boroughs," and in 1634, one of the eight original "shires" established by the Virginia General Assembly. Surry County was formed from James City County about 1652. Jamestown was the capitol of Virginia until the state house burned in 1698. Then the capitol was moved to Williamsburg.
The earliest court records are no longer to be found. A few eighteenth century records survive. Blissland Parish and Bruton Parish are James City County's Episcopal parishes. The Vestry book of Blissland Parish has been published. Records for Bruton Parish and St. Peter's Parish, formed from Blissland, are in the State Archives at the Library of Virginia. The Vestry Book and Register of St. Peter's Parish has also been published. A Church Roll for Olive Branch Christian (Disciples of Christ) Church (1833-1920, 1955) and several volumes of Friends (Quaker) meeting records are in the State Archives at the Library of Virginia.
Page revised 09 September 2010