Isle of Wight County, Virginia

Isle of Wight County is a county located in the Hampton Roads region of the U.S. state of Virginia. It was named after the Isle of Wight, in the Solent, from where many of its early colonists had come.[1] As of the 2010 census, the population was 35,270.[2] Its county seat is Isle of Wight.[3]

Isle of Wight County is located in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metropolitan Statistical Area. Its northeastern boundary is on the coast of Hampton Roads waterway.

Isle of Wight County features two incorporated towns, Smithfield and Windsor. The first courthouse for the county was built in Smithfield in 1750. The original courthouse and its associated tavern (The Smithfield Inn) are still standing.

As the county population developed, leaders thought they needed a county seat near the center of the area. They built a new courthouse near the center of the county in 1800. The 1800 brick courthouse and its associated tavern (Boykin's Tavern) are still standing, as are the 1822 clerk's offices nearby. Some additions have been made. The 1800 courthouse is used daily, serving as the government chambers for the Board of Supervisors, as well as the meeting hall for the School Board. The chambers are sometimes used as a court for civil trials if the new courthouse is fully in use. The new courthouse opened in 2010; it is across the street from the sheriff's office and county offices complex.

Isle of Wight County, Virginia
Isle of Wight Courthouse, Isle of Wight, VA
The 1800 courthouse at Isle of Wight Courthouse
Seal of Isle of Wight County, Virginia

Map of Virginia highlighting Isle of Wight County

Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia

Virginia's location within the U.S.
Named forIsle of Wight
SeatIsle of Wight
Largest townSmithfield
 • Total363 sq mi (940 km2)
 • Land316 sq mi (818 km2)
 • Water47 sq mi (122 km2), 13.0%
Population (est.)
 • (2018)36,953
 • Density100/sq mi (40/km2)
Congressional district3rd
Time zoneEastern: UTC−5/−4


During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to the large Hampton Roads waterway. Captain John Smith in 1608 crossed the James River and obtained fourteen bushels of corn from the Native American inhabitants, the Warrosquyoack or Warraskoyak. They were a tribe of the Powhatan Confederacy, who had three towns in the area of modern Smithfield. English colonists drove the Warraskoyak from their villages in 1622 and 1627, as part of their reprisals for the Great Massacre of 1622, in which the Native Americans had decimated English settlements, hoping to drive them out of their territory.

The first English plantations along the south shore within present-day Isle of Wight were established by Puritan colonists, beginning with that of Christopher Lawne in May 1618. Several members of the Puritan Bennett family also settled there, including Richard Bennett. He led the Puritans to neighboring Nansemond in 1635, and later was appointed as governor of the Virginia Colony.

By 1634, the entire Colony consisted of eight shires or counties with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Warrosquyoake Shire was renamed in 1637 as Isle of Wight County, after the island off the south coast of England. The original name had come derived from the Native Americans of the area; it went through transliteration and Anglicisation, eventually becoming known as "Warwicke Squeake".

On October 20, 1673 the "Grand Assembly" at Jamestown authorized both Isle of Wight County and Lower Norfolk County to construct a fort.[4]

St. Luke's Church , built in the 17th century, is Virginia's oldest church building.[5] In the late 20th century, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark in recognition of its significance. Many landmark and contributing structures on the National Register are located in Smithfield including the Wentworth-Grinnan House.

In 1732 a considerable portion of the northwestern part of the original shire was added to Brunswick County, and in 1748 the entire county of Southampton was carved out of it.

During the American Civil War, Company F of the 61st Virginia Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army was called the "Isle of Wight Avengers."


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 363 square miles (940 km2), of which 316 square miles (820 km2) is land and 47 square miles (120 km2) (13.0%) is water.[6]

The county is bounded by the James River on the north and the Blackwater River to the south. The land is generally low-lying, with many swamps and pocosins.

Adjacent counties and independent cities

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201836,953[7]4.8%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790-1960[9] 1900-1990[10]
1990-2000[11] 2010-2015[2]

As of the census[12] of 2010, there were 35,270 people, 11,319 households, and 8,670 families residing in the county. The population density was 94 people per square mile (36/km²). There were 12,066 housing units at an average density of 38 per square mile (15/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 71.8% White, 24.7% Black or African American, 0.4% Native American, 0.8% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races. 1.9% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 11,319 households out of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.40% were married couples living together, 12.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.40% were non-families. 20.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.61 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out with 25.40% under the age of 18, 6.60% from 18 to 24, 29.60% from 25 to 44, 26.20% from 45 to 64, and 12.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $45,387, and the median income for a family was $52,597. Males had a median income of $37,853 versus $22,990 for females. The per capita income for the county was $20,235. About 6.60% of families and 8.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.80% of those under age 18 and 11.90% of those age 65 or over.


Board of Supervisors

  • Carrsville District: Don Rosie (I)
  • Hardy District: Rudolph Jefferson (I)
  • Newport District: William McCarty (I)
  • Smithfield District: Dick Grice (I)
  • Windsor District: Joel Acree (I)

Constitutional officers

  • Clerk of the Circuit Court: Sharon Nelms Jones (I)
  • Commissioner of the Revenue: Gerald H. Gwaltney (I)
  • Commonwealth's Attorney: Georgette Phillips (I)
  • Sheriff: Mark A. Marshall (I)
  • Treasurer: Judith Crocker Wells (I)

State & federal elected officials

House of Delegates:


U.S. House of Representatives:

Public services

Blackwater Regional Library is the regional library system that provides services to the citizens of Isle of Wight.



Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities


Smithfield colonial courthouse

The 1750 courthouse on Main Street in Smithfield.

Smithfield colonial tavern

The 1752 tavern on Main Street, now operated as the Smithfield Inn.

Boykins Tavern, Isle of Wight County, VA

Boykin's Tavern, next to the 1800 courthouse.

St. Luke's Church, Isle of Wight County, VA

St. Luke's Church, built circa 1632.

See also


  1. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 167.
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. ^ "America and West Indies: March 1676." Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 9, 1675-1676 and Addenda 1574-1674. Ed. W Noel Sainsbury. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1893. 355-365. British History Online Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-05-05. Retrieved 2007-05-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), Historic St. Luke's website
  6. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Archived from the original on 2012-03-05. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  7. ^ "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Archived from the original on May 29, 2017. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  8. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Archived from the original on August 11, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  10. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on December 15, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  11. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  12. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2011-05-14.
  13. ^ Leip, David. "Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections". Archived from the original on 2018-03-23.

External links

Coordinates: 36°55′N 76°43′W / 36.91°N 76.71°W

Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve

The Antioch Pines Natural Area Preserve is a 1,017-acre (4.12 km2) Natural Area Preserve located along the Blackwater River near Zuni, Virginia. It contains growths of loblolly pine and turkey oak, and supports various species that are rare in Virginia, including Plukenet's flatsedge, sandy-woods chaffhead and viperina; in addition, swales support various species of wildflowers, including orchids, trilliums, bellworts and lilies. Also on the property are a pair of longleaf pines which represent some of the last of the species in Virginia; they are currently the subject of a breeding program by the Virginia Department of Forestry designed to restore the pines to their former habitat.The preserve is owned and maintained by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, and is open to public visitation only through prior arrangement with a state-employed land steward.Antioch Pines is located adjacent to the Blackwater Ecological Preserve run by Old Dominion University, being located to its north.

Bartlett, Virginia

Bartlett is an unincorporated community in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. It is located at the junction of U.S. Route 17, U.S. Route 258, and State Route 32, on the James River Bridge approach southeast of Smithfield.

Benns Church, Virginia

Benns Church is a census-designated place (CDP) in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. It is located at the junction of U.S. Route 258 and State Routes 10 and 32, southeast of Smithfield. The population as of the 2010 census was 872.The community is named for Benn's United Methodist Church, which lies at the intersection of Benn's Church Boulevard and Brewer's Neck Boulevard (US-258 with State Routes 10 and 32). The church was founded at that location by George Benn in 1789. Benn is buried in front of the church. The church bears a Virginia Historical Marker.

Benns Church is home to Benn's Grant, a 253-acre (102 ha) mixed-use development, which took almost a decade to be realized.

Blackwater Ecological Preserve

The Blackwater Ecological Preserve is a 318-acre (129 ha) Natural Area Preserve located in the area of Zuni, Virginia and owned by Old Dominion University. It is home to flatwoods of longleaf pine and turkey oak and savannas of longleaf pine, two of the rarest plant communities in Virginia. The longleaf pine savanna is the northernmost natural occurrence of such a plant community in the United States. Research on longleaf pine survival rates are currently being performed by Old Dominion University.

The preserve is open to public visitation only through prior arrangement with Old Dominion University.

Daniel Brown (American football)

Daniel Brown (born May 26, 1992) is an American football tight end for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at James Madison and was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He also played for the Chicago Bears.

Franklin Municipal–John Beverly Rose Airport

Franklin Municipal–John Beverly Rose Airport, also known as Franklin Municipal Airport or John Beverly Rose Field (IATA: FKN, ICAO: KFKN, FAA LID: FKN) is a public airport in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. The airport is owned by the City of Franklin and is located at 32470 John Beverly Rose Drive, two nautical miles (4 km) northeast of the city's central business district.

Hog Island Wildlife Management Area

Hog Island Wildlife Management Area is a 3,908-acre (15.82 km2) Wildlife Management Area along the lower James River in Virginia. It comprises three separate tracts of land: The Hog Island and Carlisle tracts in Surry County, and the Stewart Tract in Isle of Wight County.

Isle of Wight, Virginia

Isle of Wight is an unincorporated community in and the county seat of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. Originally, Isle of Wight County, was named Warrosquyoake Shire. This was changed to the current name of Isle of Wight in 1637.

Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper

Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper (March 1811 – July 17, 1875) served as (seventh) lieutenant governor of the Restored government of Virginia from November 1863 until June 1865 and then as the eighth Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from June 1865 until September 1869 under Governors John Letcher, William Smith, Francis Harrison Pierpont and Henry H. Wells.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Isle of Wight County, Virginia

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Isle of Wight County, Virginia.

This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. The locations of National Register properties and districts for which the latitude and longitude coordinates are included below, may be seen in a Google map.There are 19 properties and districts listed on the National Register in the county, including 1 National Historic Landmark. Another property was once listed, but has since been removed.

This National Park Service list is complete through NPS recent listings posted July 18, 2019.

Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area

Ragged Island Wildlife Management Area, also known as Ragged Island Wildlife Refuge, is a 1,537-acre (6.22 km2) Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. It includes unspoiled brackish marsh and small pine islands adjacent the south bank of the James River. The area is dominated by vegetation such as marsh mallow, smartweed, saltmarsh cordgrass, and black needlerush, with loblolly pine as the most common tree species. Impenetrable areas of wax myrtle and greenbriar are also found on the property. The area is known in particular for its wide range of waterfowl.

Ragged Island WMA is managed by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The area is open to the public for hunting, trapping, fishing, and hiking. A boardwalk allows access for viewing the marsh and its wildlife. The WMA may accessed from two parking areas on U.S. Highway 17 just south of the James River Bridge. Access for persons 17 years of age or older requires a valid hunting or fishing permit, or a WMA access permit.

Rick Morris (politician)

Richard Lee Morris (born November 6, 1968) is an American attorney and Republican politician.

Sarah Allen (missionary)

Sarah Allen (also known as Sara Allen and Mother Allen; née Bass; 1764 – July 16, 1849) was an American abolitionist and missionary for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She is known within the AME Church as The Founding Mother.

St. Luke's Church (Smithfield, Virginia)

St. Luke's Church, also known as Old Brick Church, or Newport Parish Church, is a historic church building, located in the unincorporated community of Benns Church, near Smithfield in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States. It is the oldest church in Virginia and oldest church in British North America of brick construction. According to local tradition the structure was built in 1632, but other evidence points to a date of 1682; see Dating controversy.

On October 15, 1966, St. Luke's was designated a National Historic Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historic and architectural distinction. In 1957 President Dwight D. Eisenhower designated the site a National Shrine in concert with the 350th anniversary of Jamestown.

Since 1954 Historic St. Luke's Restoration, doing business as Historic St. Luke's Church, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that maintains, preserves, promotes, and interprets the 17th-century, 100-acre historic site. Historic St. Luke's does not receive any federal, state, or municipal funding. All funding comes from private corporations, foundations, and individuals.

Virginia's 14th Senate district

District 14 of the Virginia Senate is a senatorial district made up of parts of Chesapeake, Franklin, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County in the U.S. state of Virginia. This district is currently represented by John Cosgrove.

Virginia's 18th Senate district

District 18 of the Virginia Senate is a senatorial district made up of part of Brunswick County, Greensville County, part of Isle of Wight County, part of Southampton County, part of Surry County, and Sussex County, as well as part of Chesapeake, Emporia, part of Franklin, part of Portsmouth, and part of Suffolk in the U.S. state of Virginia. This district is currently represented by Louise Lucas.

William M. Levy

William Mallory Levy (October 31, 1827 – August 14, 1882) was a U.S. Representative from Louisiana.

Windsor, Virginia

Windsor is an incorporated town in Isle of Wight County in the Hampton Roads region of southeastern Virginia in the United States. It is located near the crossroads of U.S. Route 460 and U.S. Route 258. The population was 2,626 at the 2010 census, up from 916 at the 2000 census.

Windsor Castle (Smithfield, Virginia)

Windsor Castle is a former plantation and now a public park in Smithfield, Virginia, United States. It is located in the Smithfield Historic District.

Places adjacent to Isle of Wight County, Virginia
Municipalities and communities of Isle of Wight County, Virginia, United States
Metro areas


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