Article I.    Historical Statement

Article II.    The First Charter and References to Former Charters

*Editor’s note – Appendices A and B are reprinted herein from the appendices set out in the 1964 and 1985 Staunton City Code.


John Lewis, the first white settler in Augusta County, came to the vicinity of what is now known as Staunton in the summer of 1732, and built his home, known as Fort Lewis, a mile east of the present location of Staunton. A part of this fort, built of stone, is still standing, and is one of the oldest houses in the Valley. Many settlers followed Lewis to this part of the Valley.

In 1736, a grant was issued in the name of George II to William Beverley for 118,491 acres of land embracing a large part of the present county of Augusta. William Beverley laid off the beginning of the town of Staunton within his manor, and at his “mill place.” A plat of the town was made by Thomas Lewis, the County Surveyor, bearing date July 15, 1747, containing thirteen lots of half an acre each, but this plat was not recorded. In 1748 Thomas Lewis made a second plat for William Beverley adding thirty-one lots to the first plat. The streets laid off in this second plat are Beverley, Frederick, and Johnson running east and west, and Augusta, Water, and Lewis running north and south. The first mention of the town of Staunton is on this second plat. The inscription under the plat signed by the surveyor reads:

“A plan of the town of Staunton, in Augusta County, each lot containing half an acre. . . laid out in the year 1748, and since confirmed by an Act of the last session of Assembly.”

The plan was produced in court by William Beverley, February 27, 1749, and ordered to be recorded. It may be found of record in D. B. 2, 410 of the Clerk’s Office of Augusta County.

No such act is found in Hening, but a proclamation by Governor Dinwiddie on April 8, 1752, repeals certain acts of the assembly passed in 1748, among which is “an act for establishing a town in Augusta County, and allowing fairs to be kept there.” The town of Staunton, however, was not actually chartered until November, 1761.

Staunton is said to have been named in honor of Lady Staunton, the wife of Governor Gooch.

William Beverley conveyed twenty-five acres of land lying east of Augusta Street to Augusta County April 21, 1749. In 1750, the County Court employed Andrew Lewis as surveyor, who made a plat of this twenty-five acres. On this plat the first street east of Augusta and parallel thereto was called New Street.

Early additions to Staunton were made as follows:

12 Hening’s Statutes at Large p. 600, Chap. LXI, November 6, 1787. “Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that twenty-five acres of land, the property of Alexander St. Clair, gentleman, laid off into lots and streets, adjoining the town of Staunton, shall be and the same are hereby added to, and made part of the said town.” (This is and has always been known as Newtown.)

Statutes at Large Volume II, p. 446, Chap. 49. An act enlarging the towns of Berryville, Abingdon, and Staunton, Passed January 10, 1803. “And be it further enacted, that seventeen acres of land, the property of Archibald Stuart, adjoining the town of Staunton, on the north side thereof, already laid off into lots and streets, shall be added to and made a part of said town of Staunton, as soon as a corrected plat thereof shall be duly recorded according to law in the court of Augusta County, or in the district court holden at Staunton.” (This is what was formerly known as Gallowstown.)

Annals of Augusta County by Joseph A. Waddell, pps. 38-39.

History of Augusta County by John L. Peyton, p. 255.


7 Hening’s Statutes at Large – Chap. VII, page 473, November 1761-2d, George III.

An Act for establishing the towns of Staunton, in the County of Augusta, and New London in the County of Befford, and Strasburg in the County of Frederick.

I. WHEREAS the erecting towns on the frontiers of this colony may prove of great benefit and advantage to the inhabitants, by inducing many of them to settle together, which will enable them the better to defend themselves on any sudden incursions of an enemy; and whereas it hath been represented to this present General Assembly that William Beverley, Esquire, deceased, did in his lifetime lay out a parcel of land in the county of Augusta, at the courthouse of said county, into lots and streets for a town, and did some time afterwards give to the said county twenty-five acres of land more, adjoining the said former lots, to be added to and made part of the said town, which hath also since been laid off into lots and streets, most of which are now disposed of, and many families are settled there: . . . . Be it therefore enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Burgesses, of this present General-Assembly, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, that the land so laid off by the said William Beverley in the county of Augusta, and the lands so laid off in the counties of Bedford and Frederick, shall be, and are hereby, respectively established towns; and that the said town, in the county of Augusta, shall be called and known by the name of Staunton, and that the town in the county of Bedford shall be called and known by the name of New-London, and the town in the said county of Frederick by the name of Strasburg, and that the freeholders and inhabitants of the said towns shall enjoy the same privileges which the freeholders of other towns erected by act of Assembly enjoy.

II. And whereas the allowing Fairs to be kept in the said towns will be very commodious to the inhabitants of those parts, and greatly increase their trade, Be it therefore further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That for the future two fairs shall and may be annually kept in the said towns of Staunton and Strasburg on the second Tuesday in June and November, and for the said town of New-London on the fourth Thursday in May and November, in every year, and to continue for the space of two days, for the sale and vending of all cattle, victuals, provisions, goods, wares and merchandise, whatsoever; on which Fair days, and on two days next before, and two days next after the said Fairs, all persons coming to, being at, or going from the same, together with their cattle, goods, wares and merchandise, shall be exempt and privileged from all arrest, attachments and executions, whatsoever (except for capital offenses, breaches of the peace, or for any controversies, suits or quarrels, that may arise and happen during the said time) in which case process may be immediately issued, and proceedings thereon had, in the same manner as if this act had never been made, any thing herein before contained to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.

III. Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall be construed, deemed or taken, to derogate from, alter or infringe, the royal power or prerogative, of his majesty, his heirs and successors, of granting to any person or persons, bodies politick or corporate, the privileges of holding Fairs or markets in such manner as he or they, by his or their royal letters-patent, or by his or their instructions to the governor or commander in chief of this dominion for the time being, shall think fit.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall not be lawful for any person whatsoever to erect or build, or cause to be erected or built, in either of the said towns, any wooden chimneys; and if any person already hath or shall presume to erect or build any wooden chimneys, in either of the said towns, it shall and may be lawful for the Sheriff of the respective counties, and he is hereby required, to cause every such chimney to be pulled down and demolished: Provided nevertheless, That no wooden chimney already built shall be pulled down before the first of August next.

V. And whereas it is necessary that trustees should be appointed for the said towns hereby erected, Be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That William Preston, Israel Christian, David Stewart, John Brown, John Page, William Lewis, William Christian, Eledge McClanahan, Robert Brackenridge and Randal Lockheart, gentlemen, be, and they are hereby nominated, constituted and appointed trustees for the said town of Staunton, in the county of Augusta:.... And the said trustees, or any three of them, respectively, shall and may, and they are hereby authorized and empowered, to make from time to time such rules, orders and directions, for the regular and orderly building the houses in the said towns respectively as to them shall seem expedient, and also to settle all disputes and controversies concerning the bounds of the lots in the said towns respectively.

VI. And, for continuing the succession of the said trustees, Be it further enacted, That in case of the death of any of the said trustees, or their refusal to act, the surviving of other trustees, or the major part of them, shall assemble, and are hereby empowered, from time to time, by instrument in writing under their respective hands and seals, to nominate some other person or persons in the place of him so dying or refusing; which new trustees, so nominated and appointed, shall from thence forth have the like power and authority in all things relating to the matters herein contained, as if he or they had been expressly named and appointed in and by this act; And every such instrument and nomination shall, from time to time, be inserted and registered in the books of the said trustees.

The second charter of Staunton can be found in the Statutes at Large, Volume II p. 335, Chap. 32. “An Act to incorporate the town of Staunton, in the County of Augusta.” Passed December 23, 1801.

The charter was amended for the third time on February 20, 1833. Fourth time, Acts 1871-72, p. 348; amended Acts 1875-76, p. 141; Acts 1879-80, p. 21; Acts 1893-4, p. 201.