Once a major East Coast port, historic Dumfries is the oldest continuously chartered town in the state. Dumfries history began as early as 1690 when Richard Gibson erected a gristmill on Quantico Creek. A customhouse and warehouse followed in 1731, and many others cropped up along the estuary by 1732. Prince William County was formed and took its name from Prince William Augustus, the second son of King George II of England.
The Town of Dumfries was formally established on 60 acres of land at the head of the harbor of Quantico Creek, provided by John Graham. He named the town after his birthplace, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
After much political maneuvering, the General Assembly established Dumfries as the first of seven townships in the county. Dumfries received its charter on May 11, 1749- making it the oldest continuously chartered town in Virginia
When Dumfries became the second leading port in Colonial America receiving tobacco from the upland, it rivaled New York, Philadelphia and Boston. Dumfries peaked in size and importance in 1763. For about 15 years Dumfries was a thriving port when several factors brought about its demise: the Revolutionary War, erosion and siltation, and the shift in the main shipping commodity (from tobacco to wheat and sugar).