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Richmond, Virginia: History Main article: History of Richmond, Virginia See also: Timeline of Richmond (Virginia) and List of people from Richmond, Virginia. The site was first settled by a few French colonists in 1705 as "Cockpit Country". Later named "Henrico" in honor of Henry Frederick Stuart, Prince William's father and the Duke's Princely House at Hanover. In 1737 it was renamed "Richmond" after the English town where William had been born. During colonial times when it served as capital for most or all such occasions were celebrated with great pomp and parade across this new theatre to be built on Shockoe Hill overlooking downtown which would become known as 'theatre hill' today home to many theatres including the historic Byrd theater .