The independent city of Richmond was located within Henrico County until a state constitutional change in 1871 created independent cities. However, Richmond is still the county seat of Henrico County. Due to the geography in which the James River approaches Richmond from almost due west, and turns almost due south below the fall line for about 8 miles before turning east again, the land within Henrico County currently encompasses much of Metropolitan Richmond's West End, its North Side, and East End areas.
Cape Henry at the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Henricus, Henrico Cittie, and later Henrico County, were all named for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of James I of England. Prince Henry showed great promise, and his death from typhoid fever at the age of eighteen was regarded as a tragedy for England.
On November 18, 1618, the Virginia Company of London, proprietor of the colony, gave instructions on the formation of a laudable government for the Colony to Sir George Yeardley when he departed from London to become full governor of Virginia. As directed, in 1619, Governor Yeardly established four large corporations, termed citties [sic], which were designated to encompass the developed portion of the colony. These were Kecoughtan (later renamed Elizabeth Cittie), James Cittie, Charles Cittie, and Henrico Cittie.
In 1634, the King of England ordered the colony, which numbered about 5,000 settlers, to be divided into eight shires, or counties. One of these original shires (of which six are still considered extant) was Henrico County.
Henrico County originally extended to both the north and south sides of the James River (named in 1607 for King James I). Henrico's first boundaries incorporated an area from which 10 Virginia counties were later formed in whole or in part, as well as the independent cities of Richmond, Charlottesville, and Colonial Heights.
The original site of Henricus was located by archeologists late in the 20th century. On the south side of the James River (across from the original site of Varina, it is now in Chesterfield County, which developed Henricus Historical Park there.
The Henrico-Glebe house at Varina was the location where Reverend Dr. James Blair, rector of Henrico Parish, is believed to have drawn up the plans for a new school, long a goal of the colonists of Virginia. These plans, developed in the last quarter of the 17th century, are believed to have used the earlier plans from Henricus, where a college had been started earlier, as a basis. After his two year mission to England at the request of the House of Burgesses, the charter was granted. The new school became the College of William and Mary at Middle Plantation in 1693, the second oldest school of higher education in the United States.
The county seat remained at Varina until 1752, when it was relocated to the new Henrico County Court House, located at 21st and Main streets (2125 East Main Street) in what is now the City of Richmond. There it remained for over 200 years.
In the 1970s, a new county court house complex was built in the western portion of the county. Currently, the county seat is at 4301 East Parham Road, which is inside Henrico County, although the 1752 courthouse was still standing in Richmond (as of 2007).
During the Civil War, the battles of Seven Pines, Savage's Station, Oak Grove, Garnett's and Golding's Farms, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, and Malvern Hill took place in Henrico County in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign.
Additional significant battles took place in 1864 during the Overland Campaign prior to and during the Siege of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond. Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded in Henrico County at the Battle of Yellow Tavern on May 12, 1864.
Henrico County is the site of Richmond International Airport. It also hosts an Amtrak rail passenger station and purchases public bus route services from Greater Richmond Transit Company, an FTA-funded public service company that is owned equally by the City of Richmond and neighboring Chesterfield County.
Interstate highways include Interstate 64, Interstate 95, and Interstate 295. Other major highways include U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 33, U.S. Route 60, U.S. Route 250, U.S. Route 301, and U.S. Route 360, as well as State Route 5, State Route 6, State Route 33, State Route 73, State Route 150, State Route 161,State Route 288, and State Route 895.
There are no existing incorporated towns, and no new municipalities can be created within the county. It has become the third Virginia county (after Arlington and Fairfax counties) to be affected by a state law that prohibits the creation of any new towns or cities within the boundaries of a county with a population density of 1,000 or more per square mile.
Many of these CDPs have Richmond mailing addresses.
There were 108,121 households out of which 31.90% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.30% were married couples living together, 13.10% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.40% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.97.
In the county the population was spread out with 24.70% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 32.90% from 25 to 44, 22.20% from 45 to 64, and 12.40% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 88.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.60 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $49,185, and the median income for a family was $59,298. Males had a median income of $40,203 versus $29,795 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,410. About 4.50% of families and 6.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.10% of those under age 18 and 4.50% of those age 65 or over.
The Board of Supervisors are:
In 1992 and again in 1993, City and State magazine ranked Henrico County as the second best fiscally managed county in the United States.
The first known mention of an "officer" in Henrico was the appointment of a Special Police Officer on December 14, 1871. There is no further mention until 1908 when the Board of Supervisors recommended that a mounted patrol be used. The first major step toward today's department was in 1915 when T. Wilson Seay was appointed the first Chief of Police. When the County converted to the County Manager form of government in 1934 there were 8 police officers. In 1938 the Board of Supervisors placed the Division of Police under direct control of the County Manager, thus removing any political ties with the Sheriff's office. The Division of Police has seen steady growth and improvement over the past 70 years.
With an authorized complement of 584 sworn police officers, the Chief of Police is the chief law enforcement officer in the County. The Chief is appointed by the County Manager. The elected Sheriff's primary duties are managing the jail, court security, and the service of civil process.
The Henrico County Police is fully accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
Colonel Henry W. Stanley, Jr., has served as Chief of Police for the Henrico County Division of Police since August 1995. He has been a member of the Division since 1962.