Bertie County was formed as Bertie Precinct in 1722 from the part of Chowan Precinct of Albemarle County lying west of the Chowan River. It was named for James Bertie, his brother Henry Bertie, or both, each having been one of the Lords Proprietors of Carolina.
In 1729 parts of Bertie Precinct, Chowan Precinct, Currituck Precinct, and Pasquotank Precinct of Albemarle County were combined to form Tyrrell Precinct. With the abolition of Albemarle County in 1739, all of its constituent precincts became counties. In 1741 parts of Bertie County became Edgecombe County and Northampton County. Finally, in 1759 parts of Bertie County, Chowan County, and Northampton County were combined to form Hertford County, and Bertie was reduced to its present size. Windsor is the county seat.