Although English colonists began moving into the area within four years of Jamestown's founding in 1607, Chesterfield was not created as a political unit until May 25, 1749. Formed from the southern half of Henrico County, one of Virginia's several original shires, the new county took the name of the celebrated litterateur and politician Philip Dormer Stanhope, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield.
In 1870, the first action of the first Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors was to direct a seal to be created, "to wit: a coal miner leaning on his pick under a pine tree with a flowing river at his feet." This was chosen as the County's Seal because it was the first place in the nation where coal was mined commercially.
As a result of the industrious labors of miners, other "firsts" occurred in Chesterfield: Midlothian Turnpike, the first paved road in Virginia, was built in 1807 to carry carts of coal; and in 1831, the first railroad, the Midlothian to Manchester Railroad, was built to haul coal to Virginia's ports.
Chesterfield straddles two major topographic regions. Most of the county lies in the Piedmont, a region of gently rolling hills stretching between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic coastal plain. The pine tree on the seal represents the timber associated with the rolling hills of the area.
Although Chesterfield is laced by streams, most are too narrow or shallow to use as waterways. The James and Appomattox Rivers, though, served as major commercial corridors from the first period of European settlement. Thus, the river depicted on the seal.