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History and Facts of Maine Counties

from 1652 to 1872

Today’s Maine counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.

Province of Maine Counties (1622-1658)

In 1622, the coastal areas of eastern Maine became the Province of Maine by a land patent.

In 1652, the Province of Maine within its current boundaries became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Yorkshire County (aka York County) was the first county created on November 20, 1652.

Maine Counties in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1658-1665)

In 1658, the Massachusetts Bay Colony integrated the Province of Maine (aka New Somersetshire) into its jurisdiction.

In 1664, Yorkshire County (aka York County) went into abeyance (a state of temporary disuse or suspension) in 1664.

Maine Counties in the Province of New York (1665-1687)

In 1665Cornwall County, created by the Province of New York to cover all of the Duke of York’s grant between the Kennebec and St. Croix Rivers in present Maine and Quebec, Canada.

In York County (formerly called Yorkshire) was reinstated when Massachusetts reasserted authority over all of Maine west of the Kennebec River, an area that had been put under royal government in June 1665.

In the Spring of 1687, these lands (along with the rest of New York) were incorporated into the Dominion of New England, a new province into which New York, New Jersey, and the New England colonies eventually were consolidated.

Maine Counties in Massachusetts (1780-1820)

Massachusetts created the District of Maine to manage its northernmost counties, when it adopted its state constitution on October 25, 1780.

The State of Maine entered the union as the 16th state on March 15, 1820 as part of the Missouri Compromise.

Nine of the sixteen counties were created while Maine was still part of Massachusetts, and hence are older than the state itself.

Maine Counties Today

Today, Maine is divided into 16 counties. States bordering Maine are New Hampshire and Canada.

Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders.

Fun Facts about Maine Counties

Maine’s county names come from a mix of British, American, and Native American sources, reflecting Maine’s pre-colonial, colonial, and national heritage.

Counties by Year

County Size Facts

County Population Facts

Maine City Facts

Maine’s 10  largest cities (2014 est.) are:

  1. Portland (66,700) is in Cumberland County
  2. Lewiston (36,299) is in Androscoggin County
  3. Bangor (32,568) is in Penobscot County
  4. South Portland (25,424) is in Cumberland County
  5. Auburn (22,912) is in Androscoggin County
  6. Biddeford (21,337) is in York County
  7. Sanford (20,906) is in York County
  8. Saco (19,014) is in York County
  9. Augusta (18,705) is in Kennebec County
  10. Westbrook (17,886) is in Cumberland County

Boundary Changes of Maine Counties from 1816 to 1872

This Interactive Map of Maine Counties  show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from the creation of Maine from 1713-1913.

List of Maine Counties

List of Old Former / Extinct Maine Counties

There are some Maine counties that no longer exist because they were discontinued, renamed or merged with another county. These are important for genealogy research purposes.

The below Maine counties no longer exist:

COUNTY County, Maine

Created on DATE from LAND. COUNTY County was renamed to COUNTY County on November 7, 1907.

Cornwall County, Provice of New York

Created on September 5, 1665  by New York to cover all of the Duke of York’s grant between the Kennebec and St. Croix Rivers in present Maine and Quebec, Canada.

On October 7, 1673, Massachusetts, relying on a new survey of its northern limit and responding to the Dutch capture of New York in August 1673, claimed part of New York’s Cornwall County (in present-day Maine) from the Atlantic coast to the Quebec border.

Devonshire County overlapped part of Cornwall County, but the Duke of York did not recognize the Massachusetts claim. 

During King Philip’s War in the fall of 1675 the Abanaki Indians attacked English settlements in the remaining part of Cornwall County. Cornwall County was abandoned and lost to the Indians.

Devonshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

Created on October 7, 1673  by Massachusetts Bay Colony when it claimed part of New York’s Cornwall County (in present-day Maine) from the Atlantic coast to the Quebec border after the Dutch capture of New York in August 1673.

During in the fall of 1675 (King Philip’s War) war broke out between the Abnaki Indians and the English in Devonshire County (present day Maine). Devonshire County was abandoned and lost to the Indians.

Yorkshire County, Massachusetts Bay Colony

Created on November 20, 1652  by Massachusetts Bay Colony after southern Maine towns (area between the Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers) acknowledged Massachusetts’s jurisdiction over all territory within the new boundaries that it declared on May 26, 1652.

Towns located farther north near Casco Bay gave their allegiance later, the last in 1658, practically eliminating the Province of Lygonia. Massachusetts claim conflicted with the 1635 grant of Maine to Ferdinando Gorges.

During in the fall of 1675 (King Philip’s War) war broke out between the Abnaki Indians and the English in Devonshire County (present day Maine). Devonshire County was abandoned and lost to the Indians.

In November of 1664, Yorkshire County went into abeyance (a state of temporary disuse or suspension) after representatives of Ferdinando Gorges family rejected Massachusetts’s claim and resumed government of Maine (area between the Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers).

On May 27, 1668, York County (formally Yorkshire County) was reinstated when Massachusetts reasserted authority over all of Maine west of the Kennebec River, an area that had been put under royal government in June 1665.