ABOUT YORK COUNTY
York County, Virginia, covers 106 square miles, has a population of about 56,000 people (2000 census), and the county seat is Yorktown. The United States government is a major land owner in York County with national parks at Jamestown, Yorktown and the Colonial Parkway, and the Naval Weapons Station at Yorktown. Farming and fishing have been important economic activities in the past. Because of its close proximity to the urban areas of Hampton Roads and the historic areas of Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and historic Colonial Parkway, York County has become a favored bedroom community.
The County is bordered on the northeast by York River. The scenic Colonial Parkway, which connects the national parks at Jamestown and Yorktown, includes historic sites along this shoreline. At Yorktown, where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, ending the Revolutionary War in September 1781, there are many interesting historic sites, including York Hall, The Swan Tavern and the restored Yorktown Battlefields. There are, of course, many other historic places in the county. For more information about them, consult the sources listed in the Bibliography. and the York County Links page.
In 1634 the Virginia colony was divided into eight shires or counties: James City, Henrico, Charles City, Elizabeth City, Warwick River, Warrosquyoake, Charles River and Accawmack. Charles River County and the river that bordered it on the northeast side were named in honor of Charles I of England. Both river and county were renamed York in 1643. At that time York County was bordered on the south by Warwick County and on the east by Elizabeth City County. Its northern and western boundaries were indefinite.
The area of York County was reduced in 1645 by the formation of Northumberland County on the south bank of Potomac River. Gloucester and Lancaster counties were formed in 1651 from York County, further limiting its territory to the south side of York River. Then in 1654, New Kent County was cut off from York's northwestern end.
The earliest Anglican parishes in York County were: New Poquoson, York, Chiskiack, Marston and Middle Plantation. New Poquoson Parish was established in 1635 and renamed Charles Parish in 1692. There are extant registers for this parish with published transcriptions (see Landon C. Bell in the Bibliography). York Parish was established about 1638. Chiskiack Parish was established in 1640, renamed Hampton Parish in 1643 and combined with York to form Yorkhampton Parish in 1707. Marston Parish was formed in 1654. Middle Plantation Parish was established in 1633. It was combined with Harrop Parish in James City County to form Middletown Parish, and in 1674 Middletown and Marston were united to form the present Bruton Parish. There are some extant records for Bruton Parish (see Revd. W. A. R. Goodwin in the Bibliography. The earliest Bruton Parish register covers 1662-1797, but is damaged and incomplete. It has been microfilmed and the microfilm can be viewed at the Library of Virginia. Also at the LVA are York County church records for Christian (Disciples of Christ), Friends (Quakers), and Methodist churches.
Although York County's records have suffered the ravages of time, many are still extant. There are circuit court records (deeds, wills, estate inventories, court orders) and some parish records. Abstracts of some records have been published. Many are available on microfilm at the Library of Virginia. For details, see the Bibliography.