York County was originally named Charles River County, and was one of the first 8 counties created in 1634. Nine years later it was renamed, shifting the honor of the name from King Charles I to his younger son James, the Duke of York. [Charles I was still recognized in the colony by the names of Charles City County.]
In the 1650's, when Virginia had only 500 blacks in a population of 14,000 (3%),1 York County was 15% black. Yorktown was the major port in Virginia during the 1600's, and many of the early deliveries of slaves were made to that destination. 2
The responsibility for the Yorktown Trustees to manage the waterfront ended in 2003,. The 2003 General Assembly passed legislation (HB2087) to eliminate the Yorktown Trustees and to transfer property under their control to the County of York. The trustees were established in 1691 by the House of Burgesses to help govern port cities. Today, elected councils govern incorporated towns and elected supervisors govern counties and the unincorporated areas in counties, and the role of the five court-appointed Yorktown Trustees was an anachronism.