Wilkes county was formed in 1777, from Surry, and named in honor of John Wilkes, a distinguished statesman and member of Parliament. He was a fearless political writer, and violently opposed to the oppressive measures of Great Britain against her American Colonies. In 1763 he published in the “North Briton” newspaper a severe attack on the government, for which he was sent to the Tower. Acquitted of the charge for which he was imprisoned, he sued for and recovered five thousand dollars damages and then went to Paris. In 1768 he returned to England and was soon after elected a member of Parliament. In his private character he was licentious, but his eminent talents, energy, and fascinating manners made him a great favorite with the people. He died at his seat in the Isle of Wight in 1797, aged seventy years.