The United States District Court for the District of Virginia was one of the original thirteen courts established by the Judiciary Act of 1789 on September 24, 1789, with one assigned judgeship. On February 13, 1801, the Judiciary Act of 1801 divided Virginia into three judicial districts but just over a year later, on March 8, 1802, the Act was repealed and Virginia became a single district again, with one judgeship, effective July 1, 1802. On February 4, 1819, the District of Virginia was subdivided into the Eastern and Western Districts. At that time, West Virginia was still part of Virginia and constituted Virginia's Western District, while the Eastern District covered the remainder of the State of Virginia. In 1864, upon the establishment of the State of West Virginia and the creation of the United States District Court for West Virginia, a single judicial district was once again established for the State of Virginia. On February 3, 1871, Congress again divided Virginia into the Eastern and Western Districts.
The Western District of Virginia presently has four judgeships, having had one added in 1938 and two more added in 1978. The first United States District Judge, Honorable John G. Jackson, was appointed by President James Monroe in 1819. To date, there have been a total of twenty nine United States District Judges appointed to the Western District.