city, seat (1753) of Hampshire county, in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, U.S., on the South Branch Potomac River, 28 miles (45 km) south of Cumberland, Maryland. It developed from the settlement of Pearsall's Flats (1738), which then expanded around Fort Pearsall (1756); with Shepherdstown, Romney lays claim to being the state's oldest incorporated town. Chartered in 1762, it was named by Virginia landowner Thomas Fairfax, 6th Baron Fairfax, for Romney, one of the ports of southern England. During the American Civil War, Romney, because of its strategic position near the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, changed hands numerous times. Fiercely pro-South, it sent two regiments to fight at Harpers Ferry in 1861.
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