Northampton County, North Carolina

Year Established

County Seat

Significance of County Name

Population (2010)



James Compton,
5th Earl of Northampton


Legislative Act Creating County

First Settled / By

County Evolution by Decade

Official County Website

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1660s / Virginians

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Historical Post Offices

American Revolution

American Civil War

Significant Education Events

Alphabetical / Date Started


Coming Later

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Airports in Northampton County

Maps of Northampton County

Books on Northampton County

Genealogy Sources

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A History of Northampton County

Mowfield Plantation in the 1920s.
Mowfield was the birthplace of the thoroughbred racehorse Sir Archy (1805-1833).

In 1806, Atherton was established as the county seat. Jackson is the current county seat, since 1826.
Northampton County was formed in 1741 from Bertie County. It was named in honor of Lord James Compton, 5th Earl of Northampton. It is in the northeastern section of North Carolina astride the state's coastal plain and piedmont regions. It is bounded by the state of Virginia and Halifax, Bertie, and Hertford counties. The present land area is 533.49 square miles. In 1806, Atherton was established as the court house. Jackson is currently the county seat since 1826.

Northampton County is number one in peanut production in the state of North Carolina and number two in cotton production. Agri-business accounts for approximately half of the revenues generated by local business. The principle types of farm products are: peanuts, cotton, broilers, and hogs. 

Northampton County was formed in 1741 from Bertie County which was formed in 1722. Settlement in the area began in the late 1660s as witnessed by references in deeds of the county and early land grants. Native Americans in the area at the time of European settlement were the Meherrins with Tuscarora, Chowanoac, and Occaneechi, among others nearby.

Water transportation was extremely important to the earliest settlers. Early settlement developed along two lines; a few large land holdings along the rivers and moderate to small holdings along rivers and creeks. Many of the European settlers in the area came from southeastern Virginia but also settlers migrated from the eastern areas of settlement in North Carolina.

The Society of Friends or Quakers were among the earliest settlers. Slavery was not predominant in the county in the early phase of European settlement. European indentured servants were the primary labor force. Slavery (Africans, Native Americans, and some poor whites) grew as the agricultural environment changed. Today, Northampton County is a demographically diverse environment.

On many of the maps between 1775 and 1800, there appears to be a small town in Northampton County called Cherry Chapel. These references may not be for an actual town but simply a parish church, but it is unlikely. However, there are no other records or clues to indicate that a town actually existed.

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