Virginia Company

From Academic Kids

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The 1606 grants by James I to the London and Plymouth companies. The overlapping area (yellow) was granted to both companies on the stipulation that neither found a settlement within 100 miles of each other.

The Virginia Company refers collectively to a pair of English joint stock companies chartered by James I in 1606 with the purposes of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. The two companies, called the Virginia Company of London (or the London Company) and the Virginia Company of Plymouth (or Plymouth Company) operated with identical charters but with differing territories.

By the terms of the charter, the London Company was permitted to establish a colony of 100 miles square between the 34th parallel and the 41st parallel (approximately between Cape Fear and Long Island Sound), and also owned a large portion of Atlantic and Inland Canada. The Plymouth Company was permitted to establish a similar settlement between the 38th parallel and the 45th parallel (roughly between Chesapeake Bay and the current U.S.-Canada border). In the area of overlap, the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other.

The charters of the companies called for a local council, but ultimate authority residing with the king through the Council of Virginia in England.

In 1607, the London Company established the Jamestown Settlement along the James River in present-day Virginia. The Plymouth Company established the Popham Colony along the Kennebec River in present day Maine. By 1609, the Plymouth Colony had become inactive and a new charter was granted to the London Company for its territory.

See also: Proprietary Governor

Further reading

  • David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of A New Nation, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
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