There are eight Orange Counties across the United States. Two of the most famous, located in California and Florida, are named for the fruit. But no citrus grows in North Carolina, so what is our Orange County named for?
Orange County in North Carolina was founded in 1752, knitted together from parts of Johnston, Bladen and Granville Counties. Christened “Orange County” in honor of William V of Orange, grandson of King George II of Great Britain, whose mother Anne was acting regent of the Dutch Republic. The designation of Orange in young William’s title referred directly to the Dutch Royal Family, whose adoption of orange as their official color came from the house of Orange-Nassau, whose name was drawn from the Principality of Orange in the southern part of modern-day France.
Hillsborough, the county seat of Orange County, was originally slated to be named Orange itself, but went through several other name changes in the process. First Corbin Town, then Childsburgh, it wasn’t until 1766 that the town was officially given the moniker of Hillsborough.
Because of its significance to the Dutch royal family, Orange – in both color and name – can be found across the world. The founders of New York’s Orange County had roots in the Netherlands, and the flag of New York City also has an orange stripe to reflect its Dutch origins. You’ll also find orange in the flags of Ireland and South Africa, both reflections of history entwined with the Dutch.