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About IOW County

Welcome to Isle of Wight County in Virginia!
Isle of Wight County is one of the oldest county governments in the United States of America. Nestled on the shores of Virginia’s James River, Isle of Wight’s residents enjoy the rural nature of the County coupled with the quaint atmosphere of the two incorporated Towns, Smithfield and Windsor.

CtySeal_SM-2During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. Captain John Smith in 1608 crossed the James River and obtained fourteen bushels of corn from a tribe of Native Americans called Warrosquyoackes.

In the next few years, several plantations were established along the shore in the area south of the river.

By 1634, the Virginia Colony consisted of eight shires or counties with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. One of these was Warrosquyoake Shire, renamed Isle of Wight County in 1637, after the island in the English channel of the same name. The name was probably changed due to the difficulty of spelling and pronouncing its Native American name and because the Isle of Wight had been the home of some of the principal colonists.

National Historic Landmark, St. Luke’s Church, which was built in 1632, is located in the county and is the nation’s only original Gothic church and the oldest existing church of English foundation in America.

In 1732 a considerable portion of the northwestern part of the original shire was added to Brunswick County; and in 1748 the entire county of Southampton was carved out of it.

mapThe county has a total land area of 316 square miles and is bounded to the northeast by the James River, the City of Suffolk to the southeast, the City of Franklin and Southampton County across the Blackwater River to the west, and Surry County to the northwest.  The land is generally low-lying, with many waterways and poquosons.

As of the 2020 census, the population of Isle of Wight County was 38,606; an increase of 9.5% over the 2010 census.  The population density is approximately 122 persons per square mile.  The average household size is 2.49, with 21.3% of the population under the age of 18, and 20.1% 65 years of age or older.  The median age is 44.3 and for every 100 females there are 98 males.

In 2019, the median income for a household in the County was $73,991.  Per capita income for the county was $37,123, and approximately 9.1% of individuals were below the poverty line.