The Name “Hampton Roads”
In 1610 the Governor of Jamestown, Lord DeLaWare, named the region’s magnificent central harbor “Southampton Roadstead.” A roadstead is a large safe anchorage and the appelation of Southampton honored the English nobleman Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton. Better known to history as the financial backer of William Shakespeare, Wriothesley was also a prominent member of the London Company of Virginia, the principal sponsors of the settlement at Jamestown. Southampton County and the City of Hampton also recognize this famous founder.
Usage during the seventeenth century gradually shortened the name to Hampton Roads.
Today, because no one city predominates and because the harbor is central and its name historic, Hampton Roads has in recent years become the preferred name for identifying regional organizations.