Isle of Wight County

Isle of Wight County, highlighted in map of Virginia

Isle of Wight was chartered initially in 1634 as the shire of Warrosquyoake. It was one of the eight initial shires created by the Grand (General) Assembly.

the shire of Warrosquyoake was renamed Isle of Wight county in 1637
the shire of Warrosquyoake was renamed Isle of Wight county in 1637
Source: Newberry Library, Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

The English colonists used an Alogonquian language word that described the location. Since the Native Americans in the area had no written language, the "correct" spelling of the original place name will always be subject to interpretation.

Warrosquyoake was renamed in 1637. The original Native Americana living there had been expelled after the war of 1622, and the new settlers were fond of the area in England from which many of them had emigrated. In England, Isle of Wight today is a resort area in the English Channel.1

The largest industry in Isle of Wight County was the International Paper mill, next to the City of Franklin. The company closed its sawmill in 2009, and closed the paper mill in 2010. The closures left 1,100 people out of work. However, almost 300 were re-employed in 2013 when the sawmill opened under new ownership and the paper mill began producing "fluff pulp" for diapers and wipes.2


the Isle of Wight courthouse
the tide mill at Poplar Grove in 1935
Source: Library of Congress, Smithfield Court House, Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Apse (by Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1933-1935)


1. "Isle of Wight County," Library of Virginia, (last checked August 25, 2020)
2. "Port of Virginia awards $500,000 grant to International Paper," Hampton Roads Business Journal, May 21, 2014,; "Franklin Lumber to reopen International Paper, create 72 jobs," Newport News Daily Press, June 21, 2013, (last checked May 26, 2014)

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