In 1636, New Norfolk was formed from Elizabeth City County, one of the nine original shires of the Colony of Virginia. In 1637, New Norfolk was divided into Lower Norfolk County and Upper Norfolk County. Lower Norfolk County encompasses the area that is now the cities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach. Chesapeake is the most direct descendent of Lower Norfolk County. The records housed in care of Chesapeake's Clerk of the Circuit Court are the oldest records held by any of the four cities that were once Lower Norfolk County; they date back to 1637 and the first court held in the jurisdiction. In 1691, the "Lower" prefix was dropped and the county became known simply as Norfolk Co.