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Chester County

Chester County is one of the three original counties of Pennsylvania created by William Penn on August 24, 1682; the others being Philadelphia and Bucks.  The county is named for Cheshire, England, and its county seat is West Chester.  Part of the Delaware Valley area, Chester County is the only Delaware Valley county in Pennsylvania that does not touch Philadelphia.  Pennsylvania’s fourth county, Lancaster County, was created from portions of Chester County on May 10, 1729.  On March 11, 1752, Berks County was created from the northern section of Chester County, as well as portions of Lancaster and Philadelphia Counties.

Chester County’s original seat was the naval shipbuilding city of Chester.  When it became part of Delaware County at the formation of that county from the eastern portion of Chester County on September 26, 1789, West Chester became the new county seat that year, and remains such today.  Much of Chester County’s history came about due to its location between Philadelphia and the Susquehanna River.

The first road to “the West” (meaning Lancaster County) travelled through the central part of Chester County.  Later, with some minor adjustments, it became the Lincoln Highway and later U.S. Route 30.  In many places, the road is still called Lancaster Avenue.  The first railroad, which later evolved into the Pennsylvania Railroad, followed much of Lancaster Avenue’s route, and the Reading Railroad progressed up the Schuylkill River to Reading.  Industry concentrated mostly along the rail lines at that time.  Later, improvements in transportaiton allowed workers to commute to urban jobs, and the rise of the suburbs soon followed.  Even today, though, the built-up areas form “fingers” extending along those original lines of transportation.

Pennsylvania lawyers practicing law in Chester County specialize in various niches of the law, including areas like bankruptcy law, employment law, personal injury law, immigration, family law, medical malpractice law, workers compensation law, and even criminal law.  Criminal law involves, logically enough, crimes committed by one party against another and are broken up into two subsets:  felonies and misdemeanors.  Felonies are larger offenses that typically result in harsher punishments.  Misdemeanors are smaller offenses that yield sentences that are not quite as harsh.  It is recommended that defendants retain one of the many experienced Pennsylvania lawyers practicing criminal law to represent them no matter which type of crime they have been accused of committing.

One common area of law for which Pennsylvania residents in Chester County often need the assistance of a good Pennsylvania lawyer is that of adoption law.  There are basically two different roads to adopting a child:  adopting domestically here in the United States, or pursuing international adoption.  Potential parents would be best served to seek out legal counsel with a proven track record in adoption law in order to decide which route is best for their particular needs, and to have an expert in their corner.  Pennsylvania lawyers practicing adoption law can give specific advice based on your particular needs.

One helpful resource for individuals hoping to adopt in Pennsylvania is the Statewide Adoption and Permanency Network (SWAN).  This is a partnership among the Department of Public Welfare (DPW), the Pennsylvania Adoption Exchange, public and private adoption agencies, organizations, advocates, judges, Pennsylvania lawyers, and foster and adoptive parents whose mission is to build a better collaborative adoption process in Pennsylvania and to support the work of county agencies in expediting permanency services.

Pennsylvania law provides for four types of incorporated municipalities:  cities, boroughs, townships, and, rarer cases, towns.  Below are listed the cities, boroughs and townships located in Chester County:




Census-designated place

Census-designated places are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law, but are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau in order to compile demographic data.  Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, are sometimes categorized here as well.

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