Nansemond County is an extinct county which was located in Virginia Colony and the Commonwealth of Virginia (after statehood) in the United States, from 1646 until 1972. It was named for the Nansemond, a tribe of Native Americans, who lived along the Nansemond River at the time the English colonists who settled Jamestown began arriving in 1607.
Under the Virginia Company of London, in 1619, the area which became Nansemond County was included in Elizabeth Cittie [sic], a one of four large "boroughs", or "incorporations". In 1624, the Virginia Company lost its proprietary charter, and Virginia became a royal colony.
In 1634, the King of England directed the formation of eight shires (or counties) in the colony. One of these was Elizabeth River Shire, which included land area on both sides of Hampton Roads, as had the earlier Elizabeth Cittie. Two years later, New Norfolk County was formed in 1636 from Elizabeth River Shire. It included all the area in South Hampton Roads now incorporated in the five independent cities located there in modern times. The following year, in 1637, New Norfolk County was divided into Upper Norfolk County and Lower Norfolk County. Upper Norfolk County was officially redesignated the County of Nansimum by the House of Burgesses in March 1646; by the October session, this was also being spelled as Nansimund.
In 1750, the county seat of Nansemond County was moved from Jarnigan's or Cohoon's Bridge to Suffolk, a new town which had been formed at Constance's Warehouse at Sleepy Hole Point on the Nansemond River in 1742. It was named for the hometown in England of Royal Governor William Gooch. 
Suffolk became an incorporated town in 1808 and an independent city in 1910. Even after Suffolk became politically independent of Nansemond County, the county seat and courts remained at Suffolk.
Nansemond County joined a wave of political consolidations in southeastern Virginia between 1952 and 1976, and the county became the independent city of Nansemond in July, 1972. Only 18 months later, the new city merged with the existing city of Suffolk on January 1, 1974. The newly created independent city created by the consolidation assumed the name of Suffolk and became the largest city of Hampton Roads in land area.
- This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
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