HistorySettlement of the county began in 1727, when Adam Miller (Mueller) staked out a claim on the south fork of the Shenandoah River, near the line that now divides Rockingham County from Page County. Much-increased settlement of this portion of the Colony of Virginia by Europeans began in the 1740s and 1750s. Standing between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions to the east in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley and the area beyond (known in old Virginia as the "Transmountaine") were the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rather than cross such a formidable physical barrier, most early settlers came southerly up the valley across the Potomac River from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Many followed the Great Wagon Trail, also known as the Valley Pike (U.S. Route 11 in modern times).
Located in the Shenandoah Valley, the county was established in 1778 from Augusta County. The county is named for Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, a British statesman (1730–1782). He was Prime Minister of Great Britain twice, and a keen supporter of constitutional rights for the colonists. During his first term, he repealed the Stamp Act of 1765, reducing the tax burden on the colonies. Appointed again in 1782, upon taking office, he backed the claim for the independence of the Thirteen Colonies, initiating an end to British involvement in the American Revolutionary War. By 1778, it was unusual to honor British officials in Virginia, fighting for its independence. However, long their political supporter in the British Parliament, the Marquess of Rockingham was a popular figure with the citizens of the new United States.
Modern Day Adjacent CountiesRockingham is bordered by Augusta, Albemarle, Shenandoah, Page and Greene counties in Virginia. Additionally, it is adjacent to Pendleton and Hardy counties of West Virginia and the independent city of Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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