Charles City is an unincorporated community and census‑designated place which serves as the county seat for Charles City County.
The early history of English settlement in the Charles City area remains sketchy. Fragmentary seventeenth-century records relating to the northeast portion of Charles City County suggest that the area between the Chickahominy River and the old Main Road (present-day Virginia Secondary Routes 615 and 623), which follows the high ridge between the Chickahominy and the James rivers, consisted of considerably smaller parcels than the expansive tracts that existed along the James River. It appears that even early settlement along the James River consisted of the largest plantations with substantial populations of labor—first white indentured servants and later black slaves. The Old Main Road has served travellers going east to Williamsburg and west to Charles City Court House, as well as local residents of eastern Charles City County, since the eighteenth century.