Essex County History
1729: Permanent Courthouse Established

The Essex County of 1692 included lands that comprise parts of modern Caroline, Spotsylvania and further west. Before his removal from office, Governor Spotswood secured the creation of Spotsylvania County (1721) that included northwestern portions of Essex.

The growing population of the remaining northwestern Essex, modern Caroline County, argued for a new county due to the difficulties of travel to the courthouse. People in lower Essex contested the loss of land because it would raise taxes. The courthouse was moved in the early 1700s to Lloyds in upper Essex to alleviate the feud.

With the creation of Spotsylvania, the courthouse moved back to Tappahannock. When the courthouse burned in the early 1720's the feud between upper and lower Essex reached a climax. The General Assembly intervened; decided the Essex courthouse would be in Tappahannock; and created the new county of Caroline on 30 March 1728 from parts of Essex, King William and King and Queen.

The borders of Essex have remained basically the same since that time. A year later, Essex had built a courthouse on the public square that served until 1848. The same building was later used by Beale Baptist Church for a century. When Beale moved in 2007, the county purchased the building for additional office space and community use.

1. Settlers, Southerners and Americans: The History of Essex County, Va.. 1985. by James B. Slaughter (available at the Essex County Museum and Historical Society)
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