~ The Parents of Original Guilford County ~
~ Old Rowan County & Old Orange County ~
Guilford was “conceived” in 1770 and “born” 1 April 1771. People get confused about this, and some sources will give the start date for Guilford as 1770. The law creating Guilford was passed in 1770, but it did not go into effect until 1 April 1771, when the new county began administration of its territory. You will not find Guilford records before then.
The western two-thirds of Old or Original Guilford County came from Old Rowan County, and the eastern one-third of Old Guilford came from Old Orange County.
In turn, Old or Original Guilford gave birth to Randolph County, using the southern one-third of its territory, in 1779.
In 1785, the northern one-third of the county’s original territory became Rockingham County.
Old Rowan County continued to border parts of Guilford’s southwestern area until Davidson County was created out of Rowan in 1822.
Old Orange County continued to border parts of Guilford’s eastern area until 1849, when Alamance County was created out of Orange. This border changed twice during that time period, due to the creations of Caswell County (1777 out of Orange) and Rockingham County (1785 out of Guilford).
NC Counties Which Were Neighbors For A While
~ Chatham, Surry, Anson, Cumberland ~
Chatham County was created out of Orange County in 1771, the same year that Guilford was created out of part of Orange and part of Rowan, and Chatham bordered Guilford’s southeast area until Randolph County was created out of Guilford in 1779.
Surry County was created out of Rowan County in 1771, the same year that Guilford was created out of part of Orange and part of Rowan. Surry bordered Guilford’s northwest area, and, while the creation of Rockingham County out of Guilford’s northern third reduced the border with Surry, they were still neighbors until Stokes County was created out of Surry’s eastern half in 1789.
One could say that Chatham and Surry are half-siblings to Guilford.
Anson County is one of the older counties in NC, created in 1750 from Bladen County. Anson gave up territory for the creation of Rowan County in 1753, and it still bordered Guilford’s southwestern area until Randolph County was created out of Guilford in 1779.
Cumberland County was created in 1754 out of Bladen County, and it bordered Guilford’s southeastern area until Randolph County was created out of Guilford in 1779.
While these borders were shared for only 8-18 years, depending on the county, these years were a time of substantial population growth and movement into and from surrounding areas. Those researching families in early Guilford records might want to keep these other counties in mind for research options, in case the family lived near or on a county line, or married or did business or attended church in a neighboring county.
Neighboring counties have changed over the years as well. For a downloadable PDF of a series of maps and a list of which counties parented which counties, please click on this link: North Carolina Formation of Counties
… and Virginia …
Also, don’t forget that Old Guilford County, the northern third of which became Rockingham County in 1785, was originally bordered on the north by the Virginia state line and Pittsylvania County, VA, on the northeast side, and Henry County, VA, on the northwest side. Henry County was created out Pittsylvania County in 1777, and Pittsylvania was created out of Halifax County, VA, in 1767. Halifax County was created out of Lunenburg County, VA, in 1752.