Chesterfield County named for Lord Chesterfield

“The world is a country which nobody ever yet knew by description; one must travel through it one’s self to be acquainted with it.” This quote is attributed to the fourth Lord Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, who died on March 27, 1773. Although he never traveled to this county, it was named in his honor and for good reason.

Chesterfield County was cut from Henrico County in 1748 as Lord Chesterfield was at the peak of his political career in England. Legislators harvested a little favor by naming the county after him, although it remains a mystery who particularly decided on the name.

But apparently a little flattery helped the colonies because, according to Barbara Tuchman, author of “The March of Folly,” “In the mid-1760s Chesterfield offered a cogent critique of the Stamp Act... He wrote (in a letter to his friend Lord Newcastle) about the ‘absurdity’ of the act. It could not be properly enforced, and even if it was effective, the tax would bring in no more than 80,000 pounds per year while the cost in reduced trade from the American colonies would be at least a million pounds a year (as it happened the loss was nearly two million a year).”

Lord Chesterfield had a way with words and many of his axioms are quoted to this day. In an especially relevant adage attributed the lord, he said, “I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.” He also said quite wisely: “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness; no laziness; no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”


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