Exploration of what would become Gloucester County began soon after 1607 when Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, was started 25 miles to its south.
Gloucester County was formed in 1651 from York County. It contained Kingston Parish, which became Mathews County in 1791.
Gloucester was home to several well-known persons including Pocahontas, daughter of Indian Chief Powhatan. According to legend, she petitioned her father to spare the life of English explorer Captain John Smith, who was one of the first white men to see the area in the early 1600s.
Another infamous resident was Nathaniel Bacon who, in 1676, led a force of planters against the Indians. Bacon’s Rebellion defeated the Indians and then attempted to make the governor reform colonial policies. His army burned Jamestown and he briefly controlled the colony before his death ended the revolt.
Fortified during Bacon’s Rebellion, Gloucester Point is just across the York River from Yorktown, site of the British surrender to end the American Revolution.
Originally called Tyndall’s Point, named for an early mapmaker, it was renamed Gloucester Towne and was once the county seat until it was moved 13 miles north during the 1700s.
When Jamestown was burned by Bacon in 1676, the Virginia Executive Council considered moving the state capital to Tyndall’s Point, but the motion was rejected. Jamestown remained the state capital until it was shifted to Williamsburg.
In 1769, the new county seat, Botetourt Towne (old town Gloucester), was laid out. It was named for Baron de Botetourt, then governor of Virginia.
Today, Gloucester is the largest of the eight counties that make up the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula with 34,500 residents.
Most Gloucester County offices are in the courts and office building at 6467 Main St. 693-4042. The sheriff’s office can be reached at 693-4042.
Gloucester Library, 6920 Main St. 693-2998. Gloucester Pt. Branch Library, 2354 York River Crossing Dr., 642-9790.
The Gloucester Visitor Center is in the Roane Building at 6509 Main St. Open Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun., 1–4 p.m. 693-3215. Blue Aces, 6:30 p.m., Courthouse Green, Gloucester Court House.
May 17: Park Adventures, Beaverdam Park, near Gloucester Court House.
May 20: Abingdon Ruritan Club Seafood Festival, Abingdon Ruritan Club fairgrounds, Bena
May 23: Revolutionary War Encampment, Historic Court Circle, Gloucester Court House.