Chatham was formed in 1771 from Orange. The act became effective April 1, 1771. It was named in honor of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham who was a most eloquent defender of the American cause in the English Parliament during the Revolution. It is in the central section of the state and is bounded by Wake, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Randolph, Alamance, Orange and Durham counties. The present land area is 682.85 square miles and the 2000 population was 49,329. The act establishing the county provided for the courts to be held at the home of Stephen Poe. It also named commissioners to have a courthouse, prison and stocks erected. In 1778 a town was established on the land formerly belonging to Ambrose Edwards where the courthouse was. This town was named Chatham. Chatham Court House is mentioned in correspondence, 1776-1782. In 1785 a law establishing Pittsboro on Miles Scurlock's land on which the courthouse stood was enacted. In 1787 an act was passed stating that the heirs of Scurlock would not allow a town to be established on their land. Therefore, the trustees of the town were advised to purchase land from William Petty adjoining the Scurlock tract and lay out a town. It was named Pittsboro in honor of William Pitt, the younger. In 1787 Pittsboro was made the county seat.