The county of Hants was created June 17, 1781, and consisted of the townships of Windsor, Falmouth and Newport. Originally getting its name from the County of Southamptonshire in England, now known as Hampshire, and abbreviated to Hants, the County was established out of part of what had been Kings County.
The words of the minutes of the Council of Nova Scotia for June 17, 1781 make it clear that the distance from Horton (the County town of Kings County) and the inconvenience of crossing the Avon River to transact county business were factors which led to a separate county being formed. Four and a half years later its boundaries were more precisely defined and set forth by the Governor and Council in 1785. The boundary lines of Hants were duly surveyed and confirmed by the Lieutenant Governor 1828.
The county is noted for very large deposits of gypsum and was home to large wooden shipyards in the 19th century, including the Maitland shipyard which built the William D. Lawrence, the largest wooden ship ever built in Canada.
Mosherville, Hants County is mentioned in Nova Scotia fiction writer Barry Wood's short story "Nowhere to Go" published in England's Postscripts #14 in 2008.
Canadian poet, novelist, playwright, and journalist Alden Nowlan was born in Stanley, Hants County, on January 25, 1933.
For a list of communities in Hants County, see List of communities.