Mathews County is located on the eastern tip of Virginia's Middle Peninsula, which is formed by the Rappahannock River, the York River and the Chesapeake Bay. The County is 80 miles from the state capital of Richmond, 65 miles from Hampton Roads and 155 miles from the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
In 1791, Brigadier General Thomas Mathews, then speaker of the House of Delegates of the General Assembly of Virginia, introduced a resolution calling for the formation of a new county consisting of the Kingston Parish of Gloucester County. Because of his support of the resolution, the new county was named for him. The County was divided from Gloucester on May 1, 1791. Mathews celebrated its Bicentennial in 1991. The Mathews County seal was adopted on February 11, 1793 and symbolizes the shipbuilding industry, which was of major importance to the economy of the County.
The county is noted for its history. In 1773, Lord Dunmore, the last colonial governor of Virginia, established a stronghold on the County's Gwynn Island. Following an engagement with General Andrew Lewis at Cricket Hill, Lord Dunmore was forced to return to England.
The Continental Navy built many of its ships in Mathews during the American Revolution. Many historic homes erected in the 18th Century have been well-kept and are still in use, including Woodstock, Providence and Green Plains.
Captain Sally Tompkins, the only female confederate officer, was a resident of Mathews County. The county is also known as the daffodil center of the Middle Peninsula and the annual fall festival of the courthouse square, Market Days, draws visitors from across Virginia.
The county has remained relatively undeveloped, retaining the slow-paced, friendly charm of a country community. We recognize the need for planning so the beauty and bounty of the county can be enjoyed by future generations to come. The Board of Supervisors has given the highest priority to the orderly and controlled economic development of the county.
Mathews County still does not have any traffic signal lights. However, there are lights placed at either end of the swing span bridge to Gwynn's Island that could be considered traffic lights by some.
Mathews County is governed by a publicly elected five-member Board of Supervisors who serve four year staggered terms. The Board meets in the historic courthouse on the fourth Tuesday of each month staggering times between 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Daily operations of the county are handled by an appointed County Administrator. The county has adopted a comprehensive plan and zoning and subdivision ordinances.