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United States Gotoarrow.png Virginia Gotoarrow.png Norfolk County

This page is about a county in Virginia. For the independent city see Norfolk, Virginia.

Formerly a Tidewater county in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.


County Courthouse

Because the county is now extinct, it has no existing courthouse.

Beginning Dates for Norfolk County, Virginia Government Records
Birth Marriage Death Census Land Probate
1853 1706 1853 1810


Norfolk County, Virginia took its name from the English county of Norfolk

The county was named after the English county of Norfolk. Virginia's royal governor, Lord Dunsmore, whose allegiance was to the King, positioned himself in the port of Norfolk during the American Revolution. British and Patriot forces burned the city.[1]

Parent County

1691--Norfolk County was created in 1691 from Lower Norfolk. It was changed to the Independent City of Chesapeake on 1 January 1963.
County seat: Norfolk [2]

Boundary Changes

Record Loss


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties


Getting Started

Finding records about historic Norfolk County on the Family History Library Catalog can be confusing. Most appear under the Place Searches "Chesapeake (Independent City), Virginia," "Norfolk (Independent City), Virginia" and "Portsmouth (Independent City), Virginia."

African American

In 1870, Norfolk County had one of the largest African American populations in Virginia (22,320) - the towns of Norfolk and Portsmouth in particular.[3]

go to See also Revolutionary War which contains information about black loyalists who left the area for Canada.

For a case study demonstrating how an African American family was traced back to the mid-1700s in Norfolk, see:

Heinegg's study documents free people of color living in Norfolk County before 1820 with the following surnames:

  • Heinegg, Paul. Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware. 2005-present. - free online book. Abel, Africa, Allen, Alman, Anderson, Archer, Armstrong, Arnold, Artis, Ash, Bailey, Baker, Barber, Bartlett, Bass, Bazmore, Beckett, Bell, Berry, Blue, Bowman, Bowser, Bright (see introduction), Cassidy, Charity, Chavers, Churchwell, Cooper, Copeland, Cox, Cuffee, Cypress, Davis, Demery, Doby, Driggers, Duncan, Dunn, Elliott, Flood, Flora, Freeman, Fuller, Gordon, Grimes, Hall, Hamilton, Hammon, Harmon, Hatfield, Hawkins, Herbert, Hodges, Hubbard, Hunt, Hunter, Ivey, Jackson, James, Jasper, Jones, Lamb, Lang, Leviner, Lewis, Lovina, Manly, Matthews, Miller, Morris, Newsom, Newton, Nichols, Nicholas, Nickens, Page, Parrot, Perkins, Pinn, Price, Pugh, Rains, Randall, Richards (see introduction), Roberts, Robins, Robinson, Russell, Sample, Sampson, Saunders, Scott, Shoecraft, Skipper, Smith, Sparrow, Spruce, Spurlock, Stafford, Stewart, Swan, Taylor, Teamer, Temo, Thomas, Thompson, Travis, Turner, Tyler, Valentine, Wallace, Wattleton, Weaver, Webb, Weeks, White, Whitehurst, Williams, Wilson, Wise, Young.

Bible Records

Images of the Virginia Historical Society's family Bible collection have been digitized:

Additional Bible records include:



Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1790 14,524
1800 19,419 33.7%
1810 22,872 17.8%
1820 23,943 4.7%
1830 24,806 3.6%
1840 27,569 11.1%
1850 33,036 19.8%
1860 36,227 9.7%
1870 46,702 28.9%
1880 58,657 25.6%
1890 77,038 31.3%
1900 50,780 −34.1%
1910 52,744 3.9%
1920 57,358 8.7%
1930 30,082 −47.6%
1940 35,828 19.1%
1950 99,937 178.9%
1960 51,612 −48.4%
Source: "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau.

1785 Enumeration

1890 Union Veterans



Early Baptist churches (with years constituted):

  1. Norfolk (1804)[4]
  2. Portsmouth (1789)[4]
  3. Upper Bridge (1782)[4]

The 10,000 name petition (dated 16 October 1776) has been digitized at the Library of Congress website. It was signed by people from all over Virginia who wanted an end to persecution of Baptists by the Established Church. Baptists and Baptist sympathizers alike signed the petition. To find your ancestor in this record, first check Hall's transcription in the Magazine of Virginia Genealogy (Vols. 35-38, with annotations in Vol. 39), which is available online at Ancestry ($). It is also available in book form at the Family History Library: FHL Book 975.5 B2vs v. 35-39. Then proceed to the Library of Congress website to see the original images.

Norfolk County fell within the bounds of the Portsmouth Association.

Church of England

Gotoarrow.png See also Elizabeth River Parish
Gotoarrow.png See also Portsmouth Parish
Gotoarrow.png See also St. Brides Parish

  • Mason, George Carrington. Colonial Churches of Tidewater Virginia. Richmond, Virginia: Whittet & Shepperson, 1945. Available at FHL; digital version at Family History Archives. [Includes Norfolk County.]

Early monthly meetings (with years of existence):

  • Bennett's Creek Monthly Meeting, Portsmouth, Va. (1731-1821)[5]
  • Bufkin's Monthly Meeting, Portsmouth, Va. (1698-1780) aka Leven Bufkin's[5]
  • Chuckatuck Monthly Meeting, Portsmouth, Va. (1656-1768)[5]
  • Norfolk Worship Ground Monthly Meeting, Norfolk, Va. (1656-1663, resumed 1990)[5]
  • Portsmouth-First Evangelical Friends Church, Portsmouth, Va. (begun 1893)[5]

Friends from Norfolk County, Virginia also attended the Chuckatuck Monthly Meeting in Nansemond County, Virginia.[6]


County Court
  • Walter, Alice Granbery. Lower Norfolk County, Virginia Court Records: Book "A" 1637-1646 and Book "B" 1646-1651/2. Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($); and World Vital Records ($).

The earliest minute books are dated 1743. They are held at Portsmouth. Copies: FHL Films 32869-32880


  • Norfolk City Directory, 1888. Norfolk, VA: J. H. Chataigne and Co., 1888. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Norfolk City Directory, 1889. Norfolk, VA: J. H. Chataigne and Co., 1889. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • Norfolk City Directory, 1890-91. Norfolk, VA: J. H. Chataigne and Co., 1891. Digital version at Ancestry ($).
    Family Histories


More than 50 genealogies have been published about Norfolk County families. To view a list, visit Norfolk County, Virginia Genealogy.

See also:
Gotoarrow.png Lower Norfolk County, Virginia Genealogy (identifies more than 50 published genealogies)


Norfolk and Portsmouth have been important port towns since the colonial period. During the eighteenth century, many English transported convicts who ran away from their masters in the Northern Neck headed to Norfolk, where they impersonated sailors, and hoped to board ships bound for England.[7]

No official passenger lists survive for the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries.

Headright grants identify many Norfolk County, Virginia immigrants who arrived before 1720.[8] The Virginia Immigration article provides tips about using this source.

Additional resources include:

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. "Intercepted Letters Relating to America 1777-1811," The Genealogist, Vol. 14, No. 2 (Fall 2000):184-200; Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring 2001):53-74. [Overseas correspondence of residents of Norfolk with the following surnames: Donaldson, Proudfitt, and Sutton (?).]
  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. North American Wills Registered in London 1611-1857. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2007. [Includes wills of residents of Elizabeth River, Gosport, Lower Norfolk County, Norfolk County, and Portsmouth proved in London. These records often help establish an immigrant's place of origin.]
  • List of imported servants and transported convicts from Europe who served labor terms in Colonial Lower Norfolk and Norfolk Counties, Virginia (work in progress), courtesy: Immigrant Servants Database.

During the War of 1812, American officials reported finding a total of 52 British aliens, many of whom had families, living in Norfolk Boro, Portsmouth, and Norfolk County.[9]



  • Fleet, Beverley. Lower Norfolk County, 1651-1654. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1961. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).

Grants and Patents

  • Nugent, Nell Marion. Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants 1623-1666. Vol. I (1934; reprint, Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1991). FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($). [Includes Lower Norfolk County and Upper Norfolk County. N.B. If Ancestry's search engine fails, try checking the printed index at the end of the book.]
  • Walter, Alice Granbery. Virginia Land Patents of the Counties of Norfolk, Princess Anne & Warwick. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993. Available at FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).

Local Histories

  • Burton, H. W. The History of Norfolk, Virginia: A Review of Important Events and Incidents Which Occurred from 1736-1877; Also a Record of Personal Reminiscences and Political, Commercial, and Curious Facts. Norfolk, Va.: Norfolk Virginian Job Print, 1877. FHL; digital versions at Ancestry ($) and BYU Family History Archives.
  • Forrest, William S. Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Norfolk and Vicinity: Including Portsmouth and the Adjacent Counties, During a Period of Two Hundred Years: Also, Sketches of Williamsburg, Hampton, Suffolk, Smithfield, and Other Places, with Descriptions of Some of the Principal Objects of Interest in Eastern Virginia. Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1853. Available at FHL; digital versions at Ancestry ($) and Google Books (full-view).



Many War of 1812 veterans were living in Norfolk in the early 1880s.

Colonial Militia
  • Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988. FHL Collection [Identifies some Lower Norfolk County and Norfolk County militia officers and/or soldiers; see place name index.]
  • Crozier, William Armstrong. Virginia Colonial Militia 1651-1776. Baltimore: Southern Book Co., 1954. FHL Collection; digital book at Ancestry ($). [Identifies some Lower Norfolk County and Norfolk County militia officers; see place name index.]
French and Indian War
  • Bockstruck, Lloyd DeWitt. Virginia's Colonial Soldiers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988. FHL Collection [Identifies some Norfolk Borough, Lower Norfolk and Norfolk County militia officers, soldier enlistments, and veterans; see place name index.]
  • Boogher, William F. Gleanings of Virginia History: An Historical and Genealogical Collection, Largely from Original Sources. Washington: n.p., 1903. FHL Collection; digital version at Google Books. [Includes a chapter titled "Legislative Enactments connecting the preceding historic sketch [French and Indian War, Lord Dunmore's War] with the adjudication of the resulting accounts that follow; with the list of officers, soldiers and civilians entitled to compensation for military and other services rendered." For Norfolk County, see p. 112.]
  • Crozier, William Armstrong. Virginia Colonial Militia 1651-1776. Baltimore: Southern Book Co., 1954. FHL Collection; digital version at Ancestry ($). [Identifies some Lower Norfolk and Norfolk County militia officers and soldiers; see place name index.]
Revolutionary War
The following Revolutionary War battles took place in and around Norfolk: Battle of Great Bridge, Battle of Kemp's Landing, and the Burning of Norfolk.

Regiments. Service men in Norfolk County served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Norfolk County supplied soldiers for the:
- 4th Virginia Regiment
- 15th Virginia Regiment

Additional resources:

  • Black Loyalist, courtesy: The University of Sydney. Includes biographical information about approximately 1,000 black loyalists from the Norfolk, Virginia area.[10]
  • A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services: With their Names, Ages, and Places of Residence, as Returned by the Marshalls of the Several Judicial Districts, Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census]. 1841. Digital version at Google Books. 1967 reprint: FHL Collection 973 X2pc 1840. [See Virginia, Eastern District, Norfolk County on page 132.]
  • Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions. Washington, D.C., 1852. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1969, and 1991. Reprints include "an Added Index to States." FHL Book 973 M24ur; digital version at Ancestry ($). [Includes veterans from this county; Virginia section begins on page 238.]
War of 1812

Norfolk Borough men served in the 54th Regiment and Norfolk County men served in the 7th and 95th Regiments.[11]

  • List of Pensioners on the Roll, January 1, 1883; Giving the Name of Each Pensioner, the Cause for Why Pensioned, the Post-Office Address, the Rate of Pension Per Month, and the Date of Original Allowance... Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. FHL Collection 973 M2Lp v. 5; digital versions at Google Books and Internet Archive. [See Vol. 5, Virginia, Norfolk County, pp. 92-95. Identifies War of 1812 veterans living in this county in 1883.]
  • Wingo, Elizabeth B. Norfolk County, Virginia (now city of Chesapeake, Virginia) Revolutionary War and War of 1812 applications for pensions, bounty land warrants and heirs of deceased pensioners (Norfolk, Virginia, E.B. Wingo, copyright 1964) pages 131 FHL Book 975.5523 M2
Civil War

Regiments. Service men in Norfolk County, Virginia served in various regiments. Men often joined a company (within a regiment) that originated in their county. Listed below are companies that were specifically formed in Norfolk County, Virginia:

- 3rd Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company A (Dismal Swamp Rangers), Company B (Virginia Riflemen), Company H (National Light Infantry Greys).[12]
- 6th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company A (McKenney's Eyeteeth), Company B (1st) (Lamb's Herd), Company C (Woodis' Riflemen), Company D (Norfolk Light Infantry), Company D (1st), Company G (Company F, Southern Guard aka Kid Glove aka Silk Stocking Regiment).[13]
- 12th Regiment, Virginia Infantry (Confederate). Company H (Norfolk Juniors).[14]



  • Cutten, George Barton. The Silversmiths of Virginia (together with Watchmakers and Jewelers) from 1694 to 1850. Richmond, Va.: The Dietz Press, Incorporated, 1952. Available at FHL. [Includes a section on Norfolk and Portsmouth silversmiths.]


Original Wills

  • Fleet, Beverley. Lower Norfolk County, 1651-1654. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1961. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  • James, Edward W. "Will of Josias Mackie, Presbyterian Minister, Norfolk and Princess Anne Counties, 1716," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Apr. 1900):358-363. Available at JSTOR ($).
  • McIntosh, Charles Fleming. Brief Abstract of Lower Norfolk County and Norfolk County Wills, 1637-1710. 1914; reprint, Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1982. Available at FHL; digital version at Google Books (full-view).
  • McIntosh, Charles Fleming. Brief Abstracts of Norfolk County Wills, 1710-1753. Richmond, VA, USA: Colonial Dames of America, 1922. FHL; digital version at Ancestry ($).

London Courts

  • Coldham, Peter Wilson. North American Wills Registered in London 1611-1857. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2007. [Includes wills of residents of Elizabeth River, Gosport, Lower Norfolk County, Norfolk County, and Portsmouth proved in London. These records often help establish an immigrant's place of origin.]


How can Virginia tax lists help me?

  • [1704] "Virginia Quit Rent Rolls, 1704," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 28 (1920):207-218, 328-339; Vol. 29 (1921):18-28, 337-343, 402-412; Vol. 30 (1922):21-30, 280-285, 341-347; Vol. 31 (1923):70-75, 153-163, 215-231, 314-318; Vol. 32 (1924):69-75, 144-158, 281-287, 338-343; Vol. 33 (1925):47-50, 359-370; Vol. 34 (1926):113-119, 252-258, 313, 321. Available at FHL; reprinted in Virginia Tax Records. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1983, which is also available at FHL; digital version of VMHB at JSTOR ($). [Norfolk County appears in 30:21-30.]
  • [1730-1785] Norfolk County, Virginia Tithables, 1730-1785. Original records, Chesapeake City Courthouse, Chesapeake, Virginia; also available on microfilm at FHL.
  • [1730-1780] Wingo, Elizabeth B. and W. Bruce Wingo. Norfolk County, Virginia Tithables. [1730-1780] 3 vols. Norfolk, Va.: E.B. Wingo, W.B. Wingo, c1979-1985. FHL. Free digital versions of Vol. II (1751-1765) and Vol. III (1766-1780) at Black Loyalist, courtesy: The University of Sydney.
  • [1730] Tithables, 1730, Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Jan. 1963). Available at FHL; digital version at New England Ancestors ($).
  • [1732-1788] Norfolk County - the Colonial Tithe Lists 1732-1788, CD, available for purchase at Binns Genealogy.
  • [1782-1791] Heinegg, Paul. "Norfolk County Personal Property Tax List, 1782-1791," Free African [Heinegg abstracted free blacks listed in these records.]
  • [1784] Taxable Property, 1784, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Jul. 1894). Available at FHL; digital version at JSTOR ($).
  • [1787] Schreiner-Yantis, Netti and Florene Speakman Love. The 1787 Census of Virginia: An Accounting of the Name of Every White Male Tithable Over 21 Years, the Number of White Males Between 16 & 21 Years, the Number of Slaves over 16 & Those Under 16 Years, Together with a Listing of Their Horses, Cattle & Carriages, and Also the Names of All Persons to Whom Ordinary Licenses and Physician's Licenses Were Issued. 3 vols. Springfield, Va.: Genealogical Books in Print, 1987. Available at FHL. [The source of this publication is the 1787 personal property tax list. Norfolk County is included in Vol. 2.]
  • [1790, 1799] Indexed images of the 1790 and 1799 Personal Property Tax Lists of Norfolk County, Virginia are available online, courtesy: Binns Genealogy.
  • [1800] Tax List of 1800, Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 44, No. 3 (Jul. 2000); Vol. 44, No. 4 (Oct. 2000); Vol. 45, No. 1 (Jan. 2001); Vol. 45, No. 2 (Apr. 2001).
  • [1815] Ward, Roger D. 1815 Directory of Virginia Landowners (and Gazetteer). 6 vols. Athens, Georgia: Iberian Pub. Co., 1997-2000. Available at FHL. [The source for this publication is the 1815 land tax. Norfolk County is included in Vol. 3.]

Vital Records

  • Tucker, George Holbert. Abstracts from Norfolk City Marriage Bonds [1797-1850]. [Norfolk, Va.?]: William H. Delaney, 1934. Available at FHL; digital version at World Vital Records ($).
Vital Record Substitutes

The Virginia Historical Society's Marriage and Obituary Index, 1736-1820 (newspaper abstracts) is available for free online. Images of the original index cards are browseable, arranged alphabetically by surname.

Societies and Libraries

Web Sites


  1. See Chapter III, "The Struggle for Norfolk," in H.J. Eckenrode, The Revolution in Virginia (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1916). Digital version at Google Books.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. Ninth Census of the United States: Statistics of Population, Tables I to VIII Inclusive (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1872), 70. Digital version at Internet Archive; FHL Book 973 X2pcu.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Robert Baylor Semple and George William Beale, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia (1810; reprint, Richmond, Va.: Pitt and Dickinson, 1894), 442-443. Digital version at Google Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Jay Worrall, The Friendly Virginians: America's First Quakers (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Publishing Company, 1994), 537-539. FHL Book 975.5 K2wj.
  6. Martha A. Putnam, Quaker Records of Southeast Virginia (Westminster, Md.: Family Line Publications, 1996). FHL Book 975.5 K2qu.
  7. A. Roger Ekirch, Bound for America. Table on runaway convicts.
  8. John Frederick Dorman, "Review of Cavaliers and Pioneers," in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep. 1980):221. Digital version at American Ancestors ($). FHL Book 975.5 B2vg v. 24 (1980)
  9. Kenneth Scott, British Aliens in the United States During the War of 1812 (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co.), 1979, 320-333. FHL Book 973 W4s; digital version at Ancestry ($).
  10. Dick Eastman, "Black Loyalist Web Site," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 1 May 2011.
  11. Stuart Lee Butler, A Guide to Virginia Militia Units in the War of 1812 (Athens, Ga.: Iberian Pub. Co., 1988), 152-154. FHL Book 975.5 M2bs.
  12. Lee A. Wallace, 3rd Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, c1986). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 22.
  13. Michael A. Cavanaugh, 6th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1988). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 43.
  14. William D. Henderson, 12th Virginia Infantry (Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, c1984). FHL Book 975.5 M2vr v. 8.

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