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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Hertford County

Hertford County, NC



FORMED: 1759
FORMED FROM: Chowan, Bertie, Northampton

LAND AREA: 353.06 square miles

White: 35.5%
Black/African American: 61.0%
American Indian: 1.3%
Asian: 0.8%    
Pacific Islander: 0.1%
Two or more races: 1.4%
Hispanic/Latino: 4.1% (of any race)

From State & County QuickFacts, US Census Bureau, 2020.


Hertford County

Coastal Plain


REGION: Coastal Plain
RIVER BASIN: Chowan, Map
NEIGHBORING COUNTIES: Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Northampton

Hertford County, NC

See also: North Carolina Counties (to access links to NCpedia articles for all 100 counties); Meherrin Indians; Winton, Burning of.

by Robert Blair Vocci, 2006

Hertford County, located in North Carolina's Coastal Plain region and partially bordering the state of Virginia, was formed from Bertie, Chowan, and Northampton Counties in 1759. The county took its name from Francis Seymour Conway, earl and later marquis of Hertford. Communities in the county include the county seat of Winton (originally Wynntown [incorporated in 1766], which replaced Cotton's Ferry), Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Harrellsville, Como, and Cofield.

Once inhabited by Chowanoac, Meherrin, and Tuscarora Indian tribes, the eastern area of Hertford County was explored by English settlers of the early Roanoke Island and Jamestown colonies and became a British possession known as the Parish of St. Barnabas. Settlers took full advantage of the area's rich farmland as well as the opportunities for fishing offered by the Chowan River. The town of Winton was the first North Carolina town to be burned during the Civil War (20 Feb. 1862).

Though the county later experienced some industrial development and had incorporated manufacturing into its economy by the 1950s, agriculture continued to dominate through the early 2000s, with staples such as tobacco, cotton, peanuts, corn, and soybeans among the leading crops. Chowan College, a Baptist school, was founded in Murfreesboro in 1848. The county also hosts the modern-day Meherrin Indian tribe, which has about 700 members. The overall population of Hertford County was estimated to be 23,700 in 2004.

Annotated history of Hertford County's formation:

For an annotated history of the county's formation, with the laws affecting the county, boundary lines and changes, and other origin information, visit these references in The Formation of the North Carolina Counties (Corbitt, 2000), available online at North Carolina Digital Collections (note, there may be additional items of interest for the county not listed here):

County formation history:

Index entry for the county:

Additional resources:

Corbitt, David Leroy. 2000. The formation of the North Carolina counties, 1663-1943 (accessed June 20, 2017).

Hertford County Government:

DigitalNC, Hertford County:

North Carolina Digital Collections (explore by place, time period, format):

Image credits:

Rudersdorf, Amy. 2010. "NC County Maps." Government & Heritage Library, State Library of North Carolina.

Origin - location: