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Mathews County, Virginia facts for kids

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Mathews County
Mathews County Courthouse Square
Mathews County Courthouse Square
Official seal of Mathews County
Map of Virginia highlighting Mathews County
Location within the U.S. state of Virginia
Map of the United States highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location within the U.S.
Country  United States
State  Virginia
Founded 1791
Seat Mathews
 • Total 252 sq mi (650 km2)
 • Land 86 sq mi (220 km2)
 • Water 166 sq mi (430 km2)  65.9%
 • Total 8,533
 • Density 33.86/sq mi (13.074/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
Congressional district 1st
Typical waterside scene in Mathews County

Mathews County is a county located in the U.S. state of Virginia. As of the 2020 census, the population was 8,533. Its county seat is Mathews.

Located on the Middle Peninsula, Mathews County is included in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metropolitan Statistical Area.


At the time of European colonization, this area was inhabited by the Chiskiake tribe, one of the Algonquian-speaking tribes who were part of the Powhatan Confederacy. Lands in the area were transferred to English persons under suspicious circumstances. After the death of his father (and tribal head), a young "boy king", and his "protector", with a name sounding like "Pindavako" to English ears, supposedly signed over the northern areas of the county to the invaders.

During Virginia's colonial era, the area that later became Mathews County was a portion of Gloucester County. In 1691, the Virginia General Assembly had directed that each county designate an official port-of-entry. Established around 1700, the community of Westville was located along Put-in Creek, a tidal tributary of Virginia's East River feeding into Mobjack Bay, which was a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1776 during the American Revolutionary War, Virginia's last Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, left Virginia after pushed to the southeast to Gwynn's Island by General Andrew Lewis and the Continental Army. About 10 years after Virginia gained its independence from Great Britain, Mathews County was established in 1791 from part of Gloucester County. The county was named for Brigadier General Thomas Mathews, then speaker of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly of Virginia. Westville was designated at the county seat (later it became known variously as Mathews Court House or simply Mathews).


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 252 square miles (650 km2), of which 86 square miles (220 km2) is land and 166 square miles (430 km2) (65.9%) is water. It is the second-smallest county in Virginia by land area.

Mathews County is perhaps best known for its miles of waterfront sites, as well as its prominent location on the Chesapeake Bay. Surrounded almost completely by water, it is bordered by Middlesex County to the north, separated by the Piankatank River and Gloucester County to the west. The southern side of the county borders Mobjack Bay.

Adjacent counties


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 5,806
1810 4,227 −27.2%
1820 6,920 63.7%
1830 7,664 10.8%
1840 7,442 −2.9%
1850 6,714 −9.8%
1860 7,091 5.6%
1870 6,200 −12.6%
1880 7,501 21.0%
1890 7,584 1.1%
1900 8,239 8.6%
1910 8,922 8.3%
1920 8,447 −5.3%
1930 7,884 −6.7%
1940 7,149 −9.3%
1950 7,148 0.0%
1960 7,121 −0.4%
1970 7,168 0.7%
1980 7,995 11.5%
1990 8,348 4.4%
2000 9,207 10.3%
2010 8,978 −2.5%
2020 8,533 −5.0%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2013

2020 census

Mathews County, Virginia - Demographic Profile
(NH = Non-Hispanic)
Race / Ethnicity Pop 2010 Pop 2020 % 2010 % 2020
White alone (NH) 7,835 7,250 87.27% 84.96%
Black or African American alone (NH) 822 658 9.16% 7.71%
Native American or Alaska Native alone (NH) 18 7 0.20% 0.08%
Asian alone (NH) 30 49 0.33% 0.57%
Pacific Islander alone (NH) 2 15 0.02% 0.18%
Some Other Race alone (NH) 1 25 0.01% 0.29%
Mixed Race/Multi-Racial (NH) 166 332 1.85% 3.89%
Hispanic or Latino (any race) 104 197 1.16% 2.31%
Total 8,978 8,533 100.00% 100.00%

Note: the US Census treats Hispanic/Latino as an ethnic category. This table excludes Latinos from the racial categories and assigns them to a separate category. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 8,978 people, 3,932 households, and 2,823 families residing in the county. The population density was 108 people per square mile (41/km2). There were 5,333 housing units at an average density of 62 per square mile (24/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 88.0% White, 9.2% Black or African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. 1.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Houses on Horn Harbor in Mathews County

There were 3,932 households, out of which 24.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.20% were married couples living together, 7.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.50% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.32 and the average family size was 2.75.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 19.90% under the age of 18, 5.20% from 18 to 24, 23.10% from 25 to 44, 30.10% from 45 to 64, and 21.60% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 93.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,222, and the median income for a family was $50,653. Males had a median income of $36,294 versus $23,434 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,610. 6.00% of the population and 4.30% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 7.50% are under the age of 18 and 4.80% are 65 or older.

Tourism, leisure, and fishing industries are the major sources of employment. Mathews County is one of the few counties in Virginia without a traffic signal. (Bath County is another.) Along State Route 223 at Gwynn's Island, there is a small drawbridge which is manned 24 hours daily.


As of 2016 the largest self-identified ancestries/ethnicities in Mathews county are:

  • English - 32.3%
  • Irish - 14.0%
  • German - 12.8%
  • American - 10.5%


Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Prominent among Mathews County tourism and leisure locations is Gwynn's Island, a popular spot for recreational boating and sailing. It is located where the Piankatank River feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Nearby is the off-shore location of the historic New Point Comfort Light.

Sports, events

Mathews County hosts the annual Tour De Chesapeake (due to its lack of hills except for the north section of the county near the Mathews-Gloucester border). The bicycling event is a benefit for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The community also sponsors Mathews Market Days, featuring local artists such as P. Buckley Moss.

Susan, Virginia- which is in Mathews County- is where the DIY Blog Cabin 2011 is located. This event has drawn more attention to the county.

Mathews High School is known for success in several sports including Boy's and Girl's Crew Teams, Boys and Girls Cross Country, Volleyball, Wrestling, Softball, and Track and Field. The wrestling team won the 1990 and 1991 state championships, boys track won the 1969 and 1986 state championships, baseball won the state title in 2004, and the volleyball team won two consecutive state titles in 2011 and 2012. The Crew Team has also won many championships for Mathews including the Stotesbury Cup.

Notable residents

Captain Sally Tompkins was a Mathews County native. Gwynn's Island resident William B. Livermon, Sr. appeared throughout the 1970s on television in religion segments as "The Circuit Rider". Mathews is also home to former NFL football player Stuart Anderson (football) of the Washington Redskins and baseball player Keith Atherton of the Minnesota Twins.

Former Beatle John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono once owned two historic waterfront estates in Mathews.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Condado de Mathews para niños

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