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Romney City

Romney City Hall is located at 340 East Main Street, Romney, WV 26757; phone: 304-822-5118.

Romney proclaims itself as The Oldest City in West Virginia.

Beginnings [1]

The first settlers were in the vicinity of Romney by the early eighteenth century. In 1738 John Pearsall arrived at the site of Romney, built several homes, and named the area Pearsall's Flats. Most of the early settlers in this era were displaced German immigrants or Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who were leaving Ulster for America.

Hampshire County was formed in 1754 on the eve of the French and Indian War from parts of Frederick and Augusta counties and named for the English shire of the same name. Pearsall's settlement was dedicated as the county seat in 1762 and renamed Romney by Fairfax to commemorate an English seaport of the same name. That same year, Fairfax sent a survey party to the area and ordered the formal layout of the town. When Fairfax designated Romney as county seat, the town was destined to become the hub of local government, commerce, and civic affairs. At that time, a wooden courthouse was constructed on the court square. It stood until 1833 when a new courthouse was constructed on the corner of Main and High Streets.

During the Civil War, although no battles were fought in Romney, it changed hands fifty-six times before the war ended and occupying armies committed many depredations upon public buildings and records. Fearful of a courthouse fire or other outrage, Governor Boreman in 1865 ordered that the circuit court of Hampshire County and all of the county records, property books, and papers to be removed to the town of Piedmont, and retained there until the governor ordered their return to Romney. Many of the records were never returned to the courthouse.

  1. Alan Rowe and Erin Riebe, West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office, with Barbara E. Rasmussen, Historic Preservation and Research, Hampshire County Courthouse, Hampshire County, WV, nomination document, 2003, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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