Hampton County and its county seat, Hampton, were named for Confederate General and Governor Wade Hampton (1818-1902). In honor of Wade Hampton's leadership in the Civil War and the redemption of the state, the General Assembly created Hampton County from Beaufort County in 1878. The town of Hampton Courthouse (now known as Hampton) was incorporated on December 23, 1879, to serve as the county seat. This happened shortly after Wade Hampton took office as governor. Parts of Hampton County later went to form Jasper (1912) and Allendale (1919) counties. During the Civil War, while the coastal areas of Beaufort County were occupied by federal troops, many planters fled to the area that became Hampton County. General Sherman's troops passed through the county in 1865, fighting several skirmishes with Confederate troops.
This section of the state has remained primarily agricultural. Corn, soybeans, wheat, and cotton are the major crops in this section. In 2001, the County ranked 7th in "delivered value of timber" resulting in a value of $28,614,910.
Athlete Lucile Ellerbe Godbold (1900-1981), who won two gold medals in track and field at the 1922 Olympics, grew up in Hampton County, and writer Vertamae Grosvenor was also born here. (as in the S.C. State Library).