York County, Maine

York County, Maine

York County Courthouse in Alfred

Map of Maine highlighting York County
Location in the U.S. state of Maine
Map of the United States highlighting Maine
Maine's location in the U.S.
Founded 1636
Named for York, England[1]
Seat Alfred
Largest city Biddeford
  Total 1,270 sq mi (3,289 km2)
  Land 991 sq mi (2,567 km2)
  Water 279 sq mi (723 km2), 22%
  (2010) 197,131
  Density 199/sq mi (77/km²)
Congressional district 1st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website www.yorkcountymaine.gov

York County is the most southwestern county of the state of Maine located along New Hampshire's eastern border in the United States. It is divided from Strafford County, New Hampshire by the Salmon Falls River, and the connected tidal estuarythe Piscataqua River.

Permanently re-founded in 1639, it held several of the oldest colonial settlement in Maine; consequently, is the oldest county in Maine and one of the oldest in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 197,131,[2] making it the second-most populous county in Maine. Its county seat is Alfred.[3]

York County is part of the PortlandSouth Portland, ME Metropolitan Statistical Area.


1622 patent

The first patent establishing the Province of Maine was granted on August 10, 1622, to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason by the Plymouth Council for New England, which itself had been granted a royal patent by James I to the coast of North America between the 40th and the 48th parallels "from sea to sea". This first patent encompassed the coast between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers, as well as an irregular parcel of land between the headwaters of the two rivers. In 1629, Gorges and Mason agreed to split the patent at the Piscataqua River, with Mason retaining the land south of the river as the Province of New Hampshire.

Gorges named his more northerly piece of territory New Somersetshire. This venture failed, however, because of lack of funds and colonial settlement. Also failed was a venture by Capt. Christopher Levett, an agent for Gorges and a member of the Council for New England. With the King's blessing, Levett embarked on a scheme to found a colony on the site of present-day Portland. Levett himself was granted 6,000 acres (24 km2) of land, the first Englishman to own the soil of Portland. There he proposed to found a settlement name York after the city of his birth in England. Ultimately, the project was abandoned, the men Levett left behind disappeared, and Levett died aboard ship on his return to England from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. One part of Levett's scheme did survive: the name of York, which now adorns the county.

The now-decommissioned Fort Levett on Cushing Island in Casco Bay is named for Capt. Levett.

1639 patent

In 1639, Gorges obtained a renewed patent, the Gorges Patent, for the area between the Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers, in the form of a royal charter from Charles I of England. The area was roughly the same as that covered in the 1622 patent after the 1629 split with Mason. The second colony also foundered for lack of money and settlers, although it survived the death of Gorges in 1647.

Absorption by Massachusetts

In the 1650s the nearby Massachusetts Bay Colony asserted territorial claims over what is now southern Maine, and by 1658 had completely absorbed what is now southwestern Maine into York County, Massachusetts.

The first known and recorded deed for a purchase of land in York County is in 1668, when Francis Small traded goods with the Newichewannock tribe of this area. Their Chief Wesumbe, also known as Captain Sandy, was friendly with Small and warned him of a plot against his life. A group of renegade tribesmen planned on murdering Small instead of paying him with the furs that were owed to him. Small escaped after watching his house in what is now Cornish, Maine, burn to the ground. Small returned and rebuilt. The Chief made up the loss by selling Small all the lands bounded by the Great and Little Ossipee Rivers, the Saco River, and the New Hampshire border. Known now as the five Ossipee towns, the tract included all of Limington, Limerick, Cornish (formerly named Francisborough), Newfield and Parsonsfield.

The large size of the county led to its division in 1760, with Cumberland and Lincoln counties carved out of its eastern portions. When Massachusetts adopted its state government in 1780, it created the District of Maine to manage its eastern territories. In 1805 the northern portion of York County was separated to form part of Oxford County. When Maine achieved statehood in 1820 all of the counties of the District of Maine became counties of Maine.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,270 square miles (3,300 km2), of which 991 square miles (2,570 km2) is land and 279 square miles (720 km2) (22%) is water.[4]

Community High Points
Mountain Name Elevation (feet) Community
Clark Mountain 1,320 Cornish
Wiggin Mountain 1,300 Parsonsfield
Sawyer Mountain, main summit 1,200 Limington
Sawyer Mountain, north summit 1,200 Limerick
Province Mountain 1,176 Newfield
Fort Ridge, main summit 1,114 Shapliegh
Ossipee Hill 1,058 Waterboro
Hussey Hill 1,051 Acton
Fort Ridge, south slope 1,000 Alfred
Prospect Hill 880 Lebanon
Bauneg Beg Hill 866 North Berwick
Mount Agamenticus 692 York
Mount Hope 680 Sanford
Whitehouse Hill 581 Hollis
Grant Hill 502 Lyman
No name (hill) 385 Buxton
Welch Hill 370 South Berwick
No name (hill) 360 Wells
Clark Hill 360 Dayton
Third Hill 360 Eliot
No name (hill) 300 Biddeford
No name (hill) 240 Arundel
No name (hill) 230 Saco
No name (hill) 223 Kennebunk
6 unnamed locations 200 Kennebunkport
5 unnamed locations 160 Ogunquit
Cutts Ridge 140 Kittery
No name (hill) 138 Old Orchard Beach

Adjacent counties

National protected area


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015201,169[5]2.0%
U.S. Decennial Census[6]
1790–1960[7] 1900–1990[8]
1990–2000[9] 2010–2013[2]

2000 census

At the 2000 census,[10] there were 186,742 people, 74,563 households and 50,851 families residing in the county. The population density was 188 per square mile (73/km²). There were 94,234 housing units at an average density of 95 per square mile (37/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 97.56% White, 0.42% Black or African American, 0.24% Native American, 0.73% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.17% from other races, and 0.85% from two or more races. 0.70% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. The most cited ethnicities were English (17.9%), French (14.5%), French Canadian (13.9%), Irish (12.5%), United States or American (9.6%) and Italian (5.1%). 90.84% of the population spoke English and 6.92% spoke French as their first language.[11]

There were 74,563 households of which 32.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.00% were married couples living together, 9.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.80% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 2.96.

Age distribution was 24.80% under the age of 18, 6.90% from 18 to 24, 30.00% from 25 to 44, 24.80% from 45 to 64, and 13.60% who were 65 years of age or older. For every 100 females there were 94.50 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.40 males. The median age was 38 years.

The median household income was $43,630, and the median family income was $51,419. Males had a median income of $36,317 versus $26,016 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,225. About 5.90% of families and 8.20% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.90% of those under age 18 and 8.50% of those age 65 or over.

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 197,131 people, 81,009 households, and 53,136 families residing in the county.[12] The population density was 199.0 inhabitants per square mile (76.8/km2). There were 105,773 housing units at an average density of 106.8 per square mile (41.2/km2).[13] The racial makeup of the county was 96.4% white, 1.1% Asian, 0.6% black or African American, 0.3% American Indian, 0.3% from other races, and 1.4% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 1.3% of the population.[12] In terms of ancestry, 22.3% were English, 19.3% were Irish, 9.8% were French Canadian, 8.1% were German, 7.9% were Italian, 5.8% were American, and 5.6% were Scottish.[14]

Of the 81,009 households, 29.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.4% were married couples living together, 9.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 34.4% were non-families, and 26.5% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.40 and the average family size was 2.89. The median age was 43.0 years.[12]

The median income for a household in the county was $55,008 and the median income for a family was $65,077. Males had a median income of $47,117 versus $34,001 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,137. About 5.6% of families and 8.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.[15]


York County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2012 40.6% 43,900 57.0% 61,551
2008 38.8% 42,389 59.4% 64,799
2004 45.0% 49,526 53.4% 58,702
2000 44.7% 42,304 49.3% 46,618
1996 32.0% 26,594 51.0% 42,317
1992 34.1% 32,241 37.5% 35,507
1988 60.0% 46,334 39.2% 30,262
1984 60.4% 43,554 39.2% 28,241
1980 46.3% 31,412 41.7% 28,279
1976 44.9% 27,380 52.5% 31,996
1972 57.5% 30,452 42.4% 22,464
1968 38.9% 18,931 59.2% 28,817
1964 28.1% 13,339 71.8% 34,083
1960 49.6% 25,763 50.4% 26,171

York County has trended Democratic in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century. Although home to the Bush family compound it only supported the Bush family in one of their four presidential runs (George H.W. Bush in 1988).

Voter registration

Voter registration

Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of November 4, 2014[16]
Party Total Voters Percentage
Unenrolled 58,567 40.20%
Democratic 45,479 31.22%
Republican 36,809 25.26%
Green Independent 4,809 3.30%
Total 145,664 100%




Census-designated places


York County's most populous cities and towns at the 2010 US Census
Old Orchard Beach
South Berwick
North Berwick

See also


  1. Yates, Edgar A.P. (Jun 13, 1928). "Some Maine town names". The Lewiston Daily Sun. p. 4. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  2. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  3. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on May 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  5. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  6. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  7. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  8. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  9. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved September 7, 2014.
  10. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on September 11, 2013. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  11. http://www.mla.org/map_data_results&state_id=23&county_id=31&mode=geographic&zip=&place_id=&cty_id=&ll=all&a=&ea=&order=r
  12. 1 2 3 "DP-1 Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010 Demographic Profile Data". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  13. "Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  14. "DP02 SELECTED SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS IN THE UNITED STATES – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  15. "DP03 SELECTED ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS – 2006-2010 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  16. "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of November 4, 2014" (PDF). Maine Bureau of Corporations.

Further reading

Coordinates: 43°25′N 70°40′W / 43.41°N 70.67°W / 43.41; -70.67

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