In part because of its merchants' numerous trading ties with other parts of the British Empire, Norfolk served as a strong base of Loyalist support during the early part of the American Revolution.
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It also shares land borders with the independent cities of Chesapeake to its south and Virginia Beach to its east.
Norfolk is one of the oldest cities in Hampton Roads, and is considered to be the historic, urban, financial, and cultural center of the region.
By 1775, Norfolk developed into what contemporary observers argued was the most prosperous city in Virginia.
It was an important port for exporting goods to the British Isles and beyond.
After persuading 105 people to settle in the colony, Adam Thoroughgood (who had immigrated to Virginia in 1622 from King's Lynn, Norfolk, England) was granted a large land holding, through the head rights system, along the Lynnhaven River in 1636.
When the South Hampton Roads portion of the shire was separated, Thoroughgood suggested the name of his birthplace for the newly formed New Norfolk County.Many moved west into the Piedmont, or further into Kentucky and Tennessee.Such migration also followed the exhaustion of soil due to tobacco cultivation in the Tidewater, where it had been the primary commodity crop for generations.On New Year's Day, 1776, Lord Dunmore's fleet of three ships shelled the city of Norfolk for more than eight hours.The damage from the shells and fires started by the British and spread by the patriots destroyed over 800 buildings, almost two-thirds of the city.The invention of the cotton gin in the late-eighteenth century had enabled the profitable cultivation of short-staple cotton in the uplands, which was widely used.