Hanover County was the birthplace and home of noted American statesman Patrick Henry. He reportedly married Sarah Shelton in the parlor of her family's house, Rural Plains, also known as Shelton House. At the Hanover Courthouse, Henry argued the case of the Parson's Cause in 1763, attacking the British Crown's attempt to set the salaries of clergy in the colony regardless of conditions in the local economy. The historic Hanover Courthouse is pictured in the county seal. Hanover County was also the birthplace of Henry Clay, who became known as a politician in Kentucky, author of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, and Secretary of State.
The Chickahominy River forms the border of the county in the Mechanicsville area. During the American Civil War and the 1862 Peninsula Campaign, the Union Army approached the river and could hear the bells of Richmond's churches. But they learned that the river was a major obstacle. Union General George B. McClellan failed in his attempt to get all his troops across it, intending to overwhelm the outnumbered Confederate forces defending Richmond. His failure to take Richmond has been said to have prolonged the war by almost 3 years. Hanover County was the site of Civil War battles due to its location between Richmond and northern Virginia, including the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign and Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.
The incorporated town of Ashland is located within Hanover County. Ashland is the second and current home of Randolph-Macon College.
Caroline County (north)
Goochland County (southwest)
Henrico County (south)
King William County (northeast)
Louisa County (west)
New Kent County (east)
Spotsylvania County (northwest)