William Craford was the founder of Portsmouth. Little is known about his personal life, but in 1716 he patented more than 1,100 acres of land in Norfolk County across the Elizabeth River from the port of Norfolk. He co-owned a mill and constructed a wharf in the county, where he was appointed a sheriff in 1725 and commander of the militia in 1748. Craford sat as a member of the House of Burgesses for more than thirty years, beginning 1712. Early in the 1750s he hired a surveyor to lay off the land that he had acquired in 1716 into streets and lots. Probably at his request, in the spring of 1752 the General Assembly established the town of Portsmouth there, and in the summer of that year he began selling lots. Craford had died, probably in Portsmouth, by April 15, 1762, when his will was proved in the Norfolk County Court.