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Today’s New Hampshire counties did not always exist in the present form. They went through many different changes in the space of a few short years.
New Hampshire Territorial Counties
The Province of New Hampshire existed from 1689, until 1776. Five New Hampshire counties were created in 1769, when New Hampshire was still an English colony.
The State of New Hampshire entered the union as the 9th state on June 21, 1788.
New Hampshire Counties Today
New Hamshire counties tend to be smaller in area towards the southern end of the state, where most of New Hampshire’s population is located, and larger in land area in the less populous north.
Fun Facts about New Hampshire Counties
counties were named for
- 1 county named for Native American language
- 7 counties named for People
- 1 county named for Rivers
- 1 county named for a Town
Counties by Year
- Cheshire, Grafton, Hillsborough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties was the original 5 counties created in 1769.
- Carroll and Belknap Counties was the last counties created on December 22, 1840.
County Size Facts
- Coos County (1,801 sq mi) is the largest county in New Hampshire.
- Strafford County (369 sq mi) is the smallest county in New Hampshire.
County Population Facts
- Coos County (31,212) is the least populated county in New Hampshire.
- Hillsborough County (406,678) is the most populated county in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire City Facts
New Hampshire’s 10 largest cities (2010) are:
- Manchester (109,565) is in Hillsborough County
- Nashua (86,494) is in Hillsborough County
- Concord (42,695) is in Merrimack County
- Derry (33,109) is in Rockingham County
- Dover (29,987) is in Strafford County
- Rochester (29,752) is in Strafford County
- Salem (28,776) is in Rockingham County
- Merrimack (25,494) is in Hillsborough County
- Hudson (24,467) is in Hillsborough County
- Londonderry (24,129) is in Rockingham County
Boundary Changes of New Hampshire Counties from 1764-1874
This Interactive Map of New Hampshire Counties show the historical boundaries, names, organization, and attachments of every county, extinct county and unsuccessful county proposal from 1764 to 1874.
List of New Hampshire Counties
|County||Created||Created From||Named For||County Seat||Notes|
|Belknap County||22 Dec 1840||Strafford County||In honor of Jeremy Belknap (1744-1798), an early New Hampshire historian||Prattville|
|Carroll County||22 Dec 1840||Strafford County||In honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton (1737-1832), who had died eight years prior and was the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence||Bay Minette|
|Cheshire County||19 Mar 1771||One of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769||English county of Cheshire||Clayton|
|Coos County||24 Dec 1803||Grafton County||“Coös” derives from the Algonquian Indian term meaning “crooked”, the Indian name of the Connecticut River, which rises in the northernmost end of the county||Centreville|
|Grafton County||19 Mar 1771||One of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769||In honor of Augustus Henry Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735-1811), who had been a supporter of American causes in Parliament and was serving as Prime Minister of Great Britain (1768-1770) at the time||Oneonta|
|Hillsborough County||19 Mar 1771||One of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769||In honor of Wills Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire (1718-1793); known in America as the Earl of Hillsborough, he served as the first Secretary of State for the Colonies||Union Springs||Organized at Amherst on March 19, 1771. Over several years ending in 1869, county administrative functions were moved from Amherst to the current seats of Manchester and Nashua.|
|Merrimack County||28 Sep 2020||Rockingham and Hillsborough Counties||Merrimack River||Greenville|
|Rockingham County||19 Mar 1771||One of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769||In honor of Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (1730-1782), a two-time Prime Minister of Great Britain (1765-1766, 1782)||Anniston|
|Strafford County||19 Mar 1771||One of the five original counties identified for New Hampshire in 1769||In honor of William Wentworth, 2nd Earl of Strafford (1626-1695), an English noble who owned colonial lands||LaFayette|
|Sullivan County||05 Jul 1827||Cheshire County||In honor of John Sullivan (1740-1795); the third and fifth governor of New Hampshire (1786-1788 and 1789-1790)||Centre|
List of Old Former / Extinct New Hampshire Counties
New Hampshire contains 1 county that no longer exist because it was eliminated. This is important for genealogy research purposes.
Norfolk County, Massachusetts Colony
Created on May 10, 1643 by the Massachusetts General Court from LAND. Norfolk County was abolished by King Charles II when he made New Hampshire a royal colony, and separated it from Massachusetts on September 18, 1679.
The Southern part of “Old Norfolk County.” became Essex County, Massachusetts. Four volumes of records of the Old Norfolk County exist and are at the Essex County Registry of Deeds in Salem.
In 1793 a new Norfolk County was established in Massachusetts.