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It’s official: Middlesex was founded in 1668

by Larry Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution on Tuesday, September 4, officially accepting the date of September 1668 as the official month and year of the beginning of Middlesex County.

For generations there has been a mystery surrounding the exact year Middlesex County was formed. Official Virginia Assembly records dating back to those times were lost.

In the past the county has used the year 1673 as its founding year because county court records start that year. However, it has been known by historians for several generations that the first four years of the Middlesex County court records were lost.

The records inside the courthouse acknowledge that four years of Middlesex court documents were lost when county clerk John Lindsey, due to “declining health,” left for England.

The year 1669 was used by Lancaster County historians as the year Middlesex was founded. They discovered in their records that the first court case to be tried by a Middlesex court was in 1669. It started in the Lancaster courts and was transferred over to Middlesex when the court system was started.

Middlesex historian Carroll C. Chowning Sr. wrote in the 1930s that he believed the county was formed in September of 1668 as the Middlesex County court system was around by February 1669 and the Virginia Assembly always met in September, which would have been in 1668.

The mystery had gone on for generations before being resolved by author and historian Warren M. Billings, who was working on a book titled “The Papers of Sir William Berkeley.” He found in Berkeley records, housed at the University of Virginia, that indeed the beginning of Middlesex was September 1668. 

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newsstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 09.12.2018

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