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A Brief History of Prince William County

 The first permanent settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607. By 1619 the colonists had created enough local government to start the General Assembly, and in just thirty years from settlement the process of forming Virginia's counties was well established.  See below for the Act creating Prince William County.

New counties were created as the English population grew, and the Native American population in an area was simultaneously reduced.  The rough ideal was that all settlers could reach the county courthouse after a day's ride on horseback. Robert "King" Carter, the land agent for Lord Fairfax, was active in establishing local government in the Northern Neck (remember, Prince William County was once part of the Fairfax Proprietary grant from King Charles II).  However, he died before Prince William

When created, the new county included the area of what today is Fauquier, Prince William, Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington counties - these were later carved from Prince William as settlement continued to grow.  Prince William was carved mostly from the western edge of Stafford County, but the area in the Rappahannock River watershed (now in Fauquier County) was "contributed" by King George County. [So when you look for genealogical records, be sure to check the county records of King George...]

Prince William County is located in Northern Virginia approximately 35 miles southwest of Washington, DC. Fairfax and Loudoun Counties bound the county on the north, on the east is the Potomac River (Maryland), on the south is the Stafford County and on the west is the Fauquier County.

Prince William County encompasses a total area of 348 square miles (222,615 acres) and a total land area of 338 square milescombined area of Prince William County and the independent cities is 360 square miles (230,594 acres).  Federal land accounts for approximately 41,500 acres or 18.6% of the total area and includes Quantico Marine Corps Base, Manassas National Battlefield.  Prince William County includes within its boundaries the independent cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.  The  Park and Prince William Forest Park.

Prince William County includes four incorporated towns and 14 census designated places, that is, unincorporated population centers that are designated by the U.S. Census Bureau for data collection.

               Incorporated towns:                                                Extinct towns/communities:


         Dumfries            Occoquan                        Batestown             Joplin                 Pamacocack

         Haymarket          Quantico                           Groveton                 Koop
                                                                                  Hickory Ridge         Minnieville

                                                            Unincorporated communities:









       Bull Run



       Cherry Hill


       Dale City





       Independent Hill

       Lake Ridge

       Linton Hall

       Loch Lomond



       Quantico Station




       Sudley Springs




       West Gate



Independent cities:

The independent cities of Manassas and Manassas Park are surrounded by Prince William County. Prince William, Manassas Park, and Manassas are combined for purposes of criminal, traffic, civil, and juvenile and domestic relations courts within Circuit 31. The Courthouse Complex itself is located in a Prince William County enclave surrounded by the City of Manassas.  The County Government Administration Complex is in the unincorporated community of Woodbridge. Its mailing address is 1 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, Virginia 22192.

Prince William County's highest elevation is 1,280 feet above sea level on Bull Run Mountain along its western boundary with Fauquier County.  Its lowest natural elevation is at sea level along the Potomac River, and its lowest man-made elevation is 15 feet below sea level at a quarry site near Manassas.  The geographic center of the County is located near Brentsville at 38.55 degrees N. Latitude and 77.40 degrees W. Longitude.

 The Act of the General Assembly establishing Prince William County.

“I. WHEREAS divers and sundry inconveniences attend the upper inhabitants of the said counties, by reason of their great distance from their respective court-houses, and other places, usually appointed for public meetings: Be it therefore enacted, by the Lieut. Governor, Council, and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That from and immediately after the twenty fifth day of March, one thousand seven hundred and thirty one, all the land, on the heads of the said counties, above Chopawansick Creek, on Potomack river, and Deep run, on Rappahannock river, and a south- west line to be made, from the head of the north branch of the said creek, to the head of the said Deep run, be divided and exempt from the said counties, and from all dependences, offices, and charges, for, or in respect thereof; and also discharged from all duties whatsoever, relating to the same; and be made a distinct county, and shall be called, & known by the name of Prince William county. And for the due administration of justice, Be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That after the time aforesaid, a court, for the said county of Prince William, be constantly held by the justices thereof, upon the third Wednesday in every month, in such manner, as by the laws of this country, is provided, and shall be, by their commission, directed. And whereas, the said counties have considerable claims from the public for killing of wolves, Be it also enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That each of the said counties respectively, shall contribute their proportions of the said claims, to the inhabitants taken out of the said counties, into the county of Prince William, according to their number of tithables. “