When John Graves Simcoe toured Upper Canada as its first Lieutenant-Governor, his young aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Thomas Talbot (Upper Canada), first met and fell in love with the Ontario wilds. Having resigned from the army, Talbot wanted enough land at the mouth of the Kettle Creek to establish a small agricultural community. Unable to secure enough land at that location Talbot was able to secure 5,000 acres at Port Talbot. Much of Southwestern Ontario had been surveyed by 1803. Most of the land was owned by speculators, the Crown and the Anglican Church. Talbot was faced with the problem of settling immigrants in spite of the difficulty caused by these large tracts of forests which blocked communication and hindered travel. Talbot was to receive two hundred acres for each of the settlers he located on his original grant. Talbot, however, settled the immigrants on land in Aldborough and Dunwich Townships, as well as taking his 200 acres in those townships. As time passed, Talbot placed settlers on lands in Southwold, Yarmouth, Malahide and Bayham townships in Elgin County. In the years between 1816 and 1818, Scottish settlers came to the Talbot Settlement; many of these were given land in Col. Talbot's reserved area of Aldborough and Dunwich townships. Other Highlanders were given land in South Dorchester and North Yarmouth. In Malahide and Bayham townships the southerly part was settled by people from Nova Scotia. Elgin County was part of Middlesex county from 1837 to 1851. Prior to that, Elgin county was part of the London District.
Early towns in Elgin county were: Port Talbot, Tyrconnell, Millersburg, Temperanceville (Orwell), Sparta, Five Stakes (Talbotville), Stirling, Kettle Creek Village, Hog's Hollow, Fingal, Talbot Mills, Port Stanley, Port Bruce, Jamestown, Lakeview, Grovesend, Aylmer, Vienna, Port Burwell, Richmond and Sandytown.