Henrico County

Henrico County, highlighted in map of Virginia

Henrico, one of the oldest counties in the state, is named after a Prince of Wales who never became king of England.

James I was on the throne when the Susan Constant, GodSpeed, and Discovery sighted land on April 6, 1607. The ships sailed into the Chesapeake Bay between two points of land, which were quickly named Cape Henry and Cape Charles after the two sons of King James I. (James and his daughter Elizabeth got rivers named after them, but the queen was left out...)

Sir Thomas Dale started a new settlement called "The City of Henricus" in 1611 upstream of Jamestown in a bend of the James River that could be defended easily. In 1614 four "Incorporations" were defined for the new colony and Henry was honored, as was Charles, by having one of these named after him. (Henry had died in 1612, so when the Incorporations were first named it was understood that the younger brother Charles would become the next king. It was not known at the time that he would have his head cut off in a civil war, however...)

When the first eight Virginia counties were created in 1634, the name Henrico was continued. The name Henry was not a good luck charm, however:
- All English residents of the City of Henricus and its university (chartered in 1619, the first in the New World) were killed in the 1622 uprising of the native Americans.
- The future Henry's never came close to becoming King of England. Charles I named his third son Henry, but the oldest son was on the throne as Charles II when this Henry died. James II, the next King of England, was deposed during the Glorious Revolution of William and Mary. His son, James, named his two children Charles and Henry. Charles became romanticized as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" after he failed to seize the throne in a 1745 rebellion based in Scotland. Henry then settled for becoming the Cardinal of York (Catholic, incidentally) instead of Henry IX, and the Stuart claim to the throne evaporated.

Henrico County, as shown on the 1755 Fry-Jefferson map
Henrico County, as shown on the 1755 Fry-Jefferson map
Source: Library of Congress, A map of the most inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole province of Maryland with part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina (by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson, 1755)

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