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it is that the desire for more direct authority and for securing larger investments)
were the motives of the petitioners in asking for a new charter.

As a result of this movement the letters patent of 1609 were issued, transform-
ing the undertakers into a body politic. In this case also the documents are
especially characteristic of the organization. Whereas the Crown was formerly the
source of all power, beginning with 1609 the council of the companj', acting as a
standing committee for the adventurers rather than in the name of the King,
exercised the controlling authority. After the charter of 1612 had provided for
more frequent meetings of the generality, the council was gradually superseded by
special committees and the tendency arose to decide all matters of hnportance in
the general quarter courts and to insist upon all communications being addressed
to the company rather than to the council. The act of incorporation erected a
commercial company and made it the overlord of a proprietary province. It at
once strengthened its plantation as a center for traffic and established a system for
joint management of land and trade to extend over a period of seven j'ears, prom-

a When the Privy Council demanded the records of the company, a receipt bearing the date April
21, 1623, was given to the secretary of the company for the "several court books." This document
was discovered by the Editor among the Ferrar papers, Magdalene College, Cambridge, in December,
1903. See List of Records, p. 171, No. 470.

iiThis document was recently found by the Editor in the Bodleian Library. Ibid., p. 121, No. 1.


ising dividends to the adventurer and support to the planter. The records of the
corporation reveal as clearly as do its broadsides and pamphlets that it was a business
venture. These records may be grouped into seven classes."

The Classes of Kecords

I. The fundamental documents of the company were those by virtue of which
it had its legal formation, and consisted of the letters patent, charters, and orders
in council issued by the King and Privy Council.

II. The activity of the adventurers was recorded in the court books, which com-
prised the minutes of the transactions of the company. In those books were kept
the discussions and decisions with regard to the plantation, the granting of land,
and all financial policies and plans for developing the enterprise and increasing the

III. In carrying on its business the company gave commissions to the governors
of the colony, issued regulations for the settlers, and, from time to time, sent
instructions to the governor and council of the colony. It also granted lands and
patents, entered into contracts, issued receipts, made pleas in court, and kept
statements of accounts.

IV. From the colony itself came reports, declarations, letters, and complaints.
They were an essential part of the records of the company and often determined its
course of action.

V. To the public, for the purpose of inspiring confidence, securing adventurers,
and maintaining the interest and support of its members, as well as of defending
itself against the accusations of its enemies, the company issued advertisements,
broadsides of its shipping investments, declarations, pamphlets, and sermons.

VI. A large part of the information which came to the company was derived
from private correspondence between members of the company and individual plant-
ers. Furthermore, there was a gradual tendency to permit individuals or groups of
individuals of the company to form stock companies for trade or plantation, and
records of these transactions formed a valuable supplement to those of the compan}'

VII. To the student of history another group of supplementary material is of
great value. It comes from the records of contemporary companies, corporations,
and towns, as well as from the correspondence of officers of state or of other persons
who were not directly concerned in the transactions of the Virginia Company.

« For the documents in these various classes, see the claasificationa by Koruan numerals at the
left of each entry under the " List of Records," poat, pp. 121-205.


All of these records of the company for the period previous to 1616, so far as
they were known to him, were collected and reprinted in full or cited, if already
available in America, by Alexander Brown, in the year 1890."


As far as appears from the evidence of the extant documents, when by the
charters of 1609 and 1612, James I surrendered to the company full rights of trade, as
well as territorial and governmental rights in Virginia he apparently lost all interest
and part in the undertaking, and it was only when the plantation had developed into
the colony, and when at the expiration of the privileges of free importation in 1619,
the business of the corporation had become so good as to offer a prospect of revenue
that the King in his council began to interfere in the affairs of the company.* In
1613, under the administration of Sir Thomas Smythe, the adventurers were com-
pelled to appeal to the Crown because of the complications with France which arose
from the expedition of Sir Samuel Argall along the northern coasts of America,"^
while a similar relation was brought about by the controversy with Spain with regard
to the attack on Spanish vessels b}' the ship Treasurer in 1619/' In both instances
the protection desired was granted. When the financial stringency forced the adven-
turers to great efforts in 1614, and they appealed unsuccessfully to Parliament for
aid, the Privy Council attempted to arouse confidence in the undertaking throughout
the country. It passed orders urging the cit}' companies of London to invest sums
in the Virginia lottery, and in the following year it addressed similar orders to the
"Several Cityes and Townes of the Kingdome,""" with special letters to the lieu-
tenants of County Surrey .•''

But the aid thus secured was not such as to draw upon the resources of the Crown,
and the attempt of members of the company to gain a monopoly of the tobacco trade
in 1616 met with the same opposition as had similar efforts on the part of the
merchant adventurers in previous years. On the other hand the company was com-

oFor the documents of the period from 1606-1609 not mentioned by Mr. Brown in his Genesis of
the United Slates, most of which have recently been discovered, see List of the Records of the Virginia
Company, post, pp. 121-125, Nos. 1-38.

''In March, 1619, Abraham and John Jacobs received a grant for tlie collection of customs or
imports on tobacco. This became an important feature of the business of the company in its later
procedure. See List of Records, pp. 127, 129, Nos. 53, 73.

•■Brown, Genesis, IL 640-644.

d List of Records, p. 132, No. 102.

' Brown, Genesis, II, 676, 679, 685, 733, 760.
•/ List of Records, p. 126, No. 49.


pelled against its will to submit to the treatment of its plantation a3 a penal colony
by James I in his spasmodic efforts to develop a policy which should save England
from an ovei'population of vagabonds."

With the exception of these unimportant relations with the Crown, the company
seems to have conducted its business independently of royal aid or interference dur-
ing the first decade of its existence as a corporate body.


It is therefore in the court book of the company and in its instructions, corre-
spondence, and other records suggested under the preceding classifications II and III,
that its activity and methods must be found. That court books were kept under
the administration of Sir Thomas Smythe is known from the receipt in the Ferrar
papers, already referred to. The first book extended from January 28, 1606, to
February 14, 1615, and with it were "other perticuler writings belonging to the
company." The second included the period between January 31, 1615, and July 28,
1619. What these books contained can only be surmised from the scope of the two
later volumes, dated April 28, 1619, to May 22, 1622, and May 20, 1622, to April
2, 1623, the contemporaiy copies of which are now extant and in the Library of
Congress, at Washington.'' The contents of the "other perticuler writings," none
of which are now known to be extant, are suggested b\' a memorandum of Sir
Nathaniel Rich in a document among the Manchester papers. In attempting to
prove the good done during Sir Thomas Smythe's administration Rich cites certain
records as authoritj'. The first one mentioned was a "bookeof perticulers'' con-
taining the "Public workes: done in S'' T. Smithes tyme", and showing "the
plenty of Armes &c left in S'' Th. Smithes tyme"; the second was a "pticular
already deliuered to the Com''." in which appeared the "Staple Cofflodityes raysed
in S"' T. Smithes tyme"; while the third formed a "coUeC of the publiq, workes
made by S"' Sa. Argall w'" he [comenset]" and was entitled "The pticulars of
the Boates". Rich mentions two documents contained in this volume. He states

"There is a eeries of 14 orders of the Privy Council for the transpoitation of prisoner.-) to Virginia
in the years 1617 and 1618 not hitherto noted. List of Records, pp. 121-131, Nos. 4, 41, 65, 90. The
transportation thus effected is mentioned by Miss E. M. Leonard, The Early History of tlu- Engliih
Poor Relief, pp. 229-230, n.

bThia receipt covered these four volumes, "the other perticuler writings belonging to the
company," and two volumes of the court book of the Somers Islands Company, December 3, 1613, to
January 24, 1620, and February 7, 1620, to February 19, 1622. However, the second volume of the
court book, which is now in the Library of Congress — the fourth volume here mentioned — was
continued until June 19, 1624, after the return of the records to the company.


that pages "11, 12, 13, 14, 15, &c.," contain the "League of the Natiues," and
that on pages 51 to 59 was "Sir T. Dales tre." In his notes for discussion Kich also
refers to "The Courte Bookes," and further declares that "Wrott remembers 4
warrants" by which lotteries were erected under the hands of the "Counsell of
Virginia". In connection with the lottery he cites "th' Accompts" of Gabnell and
declares that "He kept Tables"." Thus the discovery by the Editor of these two
documents in these two similar collections belonging to the hostile factions has proved
that the company possessed record books; but a knowledge of their contents must be
gained from other sources.

To supply the loss of these documents of the company, both during the control
of the council and after that control had passed into the hands of the companj' b}'
virtue of the charter of 1612, there is a considerable mass of material, which affords
a fair outline of the transactions of the company and the life of the colony. But
much of this information is lacking in the completeness and authenticity which
would have been supplied by the court book and the other records. The greatest
loss is perhaps that of definite knowledge concerning the financial status of the
company. The sums adventured by individuals and corporations is preserved in
two alphabetical lists; but, so far as is known, onl}' one of these lists is official, and
that includes the names of the particular adventure about the year 1610.' The other
is an unpublished list apparently both incomplete and unofiicial, and was probably
made somewhat later than 1618 at the order of the court,'' although the date 1618
has been assigned to it in the Manchester papers, where it is to be found.'' From
the records of the various London companies and fi'om records of English towns,
as also from adventui-es sealed to individuals by the Virginia Compan}', comes the
most authentic information concerning the large sums invested during this decade.
In a similar way the knowledge, otherwise to be found in the court book and "The
pticulers of the Boates," concerning the ships dispatched and the sums expended for
the equipment of planters, individuals, and companies, is scattering and indefinite.
The broadsides issued are calls for adventurers, planters, and colonists, with the
requirements or statements concerning the lottery schemes; but the}' do not furnish
the wide information which is found in those of the later period. So far as revenue
is concerned, there was probably little except that which came from new adventurers

" This paper is evidently a Beries of rough notes of he.idw antl references to prove charges of
mismanagement by the Sandys faction. It is in the handwriting of Sir N. Rich. List of Records,
p. 167, No. 438.

!> Brown, Genesis, I, 465-469.

f For an act providing for such a compilation see the record of the court, Dec. 15, 1619.

^ List of Records, p. 127, No. 58.


and the lotteries, but we have no way of knowing even that resource, while our
knowledge of the income from tobacco and commodities brought from Virginia is
derived from three or four scattering receipts only, found mostly among the papers
of the Earl of De La Warr and of Lord Sackville."

Even our knowledge as to the economic condition of the colony is most
indefinite and comes only from printed pamphlets issued by the company. Judging
from the sources of information in the later period, this uncertainty is due to the
disappearance of the letters themselves, since, after 1619, the published relations of
individual planters, the declarations by the company, and even the records of the
court books are all more general in character than the letters which were sent from
the colony to the company. Furthermore, in the later period the daily acts of the
colonists and their needs, as reported from time to time by returning ships, afforded
the adventurers a bod}' of information concerning the social condition of the colony
which in form and accuracy left little to be desired. After the time of Captain John
Smith not much was accurately known of the colony until the year 1617, when
Captain John Rolfe and Ralph Hamor supplied statistics as to the numbers, condi-
tion, settlements, and resources of the colony as it then was.

The individual enterprises of this decade in the life of the company are
altogether unknown, except from a few contracts for shipping found here and
there. Such movements must at least have been noted in the court book. Of the
first "hundred," established in 1618, nothing is recorded except the single report,
heretofore unknown,* of a meeting of the committee for Smythes Hundred. But
the greatest loss which we suffer through the disappearance of the court book is
that of material which should thi'ow light on the aims, motives, and unsuccessful
efforts of the company and on the struggles and difEculties through which it passed.
For example, there is a single reference to an attempt to found a college, but no infor-
mation whatever on the subject. The factions which developed and which resulted
finally in the dissolution of the company evidently existed in this period, for a letter
from Chamberlain to Carleton, dated May 8, 1619, <" in which he speaks of the failure
to reelect Sir Thomas Smythe as treasurer of the Virginia Company as having
been "somewhat bettered at a later meeting of the Summers Island Company by his
choice as treasurer of that company," proves that the change was due to factional
differences, although the extant court books open with the refusal of Sir Thomas
Smythe to continue as treasurer. Similarly, the choice of officers for the company,
the votes received by each candidate, the appointments to positions in the colony,

"List of Records, Nos. 59, 60. Also Brown, Genesis, II, 772.

^ Ibid., No. 76. This is among the Ferrar papers of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

cllnd., No. 108.


the petitions to the company and its action thereupon, and numerous other acts,
revealing the relations and attitude of the individual members, are all unknown.'^


Of the official documents issued by the company during the decade from 1609 to
1619 the most important have been unknown up to this time. They include the
first instructions ever given to a governor of a colony by an English administrative
body, and the records of the first suits entered by the company in chancery for the
purpose of enforcing the payments of sums adventured in the company and of
securing a part of the income from the lottery, which the company claimed had been
withheld by the agent, William Leveson.*

The knowledge which the administrators of the affairs of the company had
gained from the early settlers, and their grasp of the necessities for exploration, for
trade, and for the conduct of affairs in the plantation, has hitherto been a matter of
surmise based on the relations of the planters. From the " Instruccons, orders,
and constitucons to Sir Thomas Gates," "^ in May, 1609, and a similar document
given to "Sir Thos. West Knight LorLawarr"** in 1609 or 1610 comes a revelation
of the motives of the adventurers, as well as of the polic}' adopted and of the
methods outlined for the prosecution of their efforts. These instructions to Gates
and De La Warr afforded the authority for the termination of the previous govern-
ment in Virginia, the stated ideas of the company as to locations for settlements,
forts, and magazines, and concerning journeys inland. It also included an interesting
reference to Raleigh's colonists. The general polic}' in administering the affairs of
the colonists and the detailed orders as to the relations with the Indians, as far as
they concern guards, trade, and treaties, and the daily life of the inhabitants, indicate
a definiteness in the control of the company which formerly was not understood.
In such a revelation of the knowledge of the country and of the natives there is a

"Scattering information of such a character concerning this period appears in the discussions
and quarrels recorded in the later court books.

6 List of Records, pp. 123-124, Nos. 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31.

There are three cases recorded in the chancery proceedings in which the company attempted to
enforce the payment of adventured sums. The bill of complaint is identical in each case, with the
exception of the names of the defendant and the sums they underwrote. The bill, dated April 28,
1613, against Sir Henry Nevile, Sir Henry Carye, and eighteen others is printed in Brown's Genesis of
the United States, II, pp. 623-631, from a copy found among the Smyth of Nibley papers. It differs
slightly in orthography only from the original record. The five recorded answers supply even more
valuable information than the bills of complaints.

cThis manuscript is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, Ashmolean Manuscripln, 1147, folios 175-190*.
It was discovered by the Editor in October, 1903. See also List of Records, p. 122, No. 10.

''Ashmolean Manuscripts, 1147, folios 191-205". See also List of Records, p. 122, No. 11.


basis for belief that the affairs of the company were managed and its records were
kept in a systematic and businesslike way. "

The company had become convinced that the policy of John Smith was a wise
one, and hence it ordered that a number of plantations should be settled and that
efforts should be immediately directed to building healthful and sufficient houses and
to planting widely enough for the self-support of the community. Here was the
germ which was to develop into the colon}', but the plan was as 3'et by no means
so far-reaching. A common store, a common magazine, common refectories, labor
by groups with a superintendent for each five or six persons, the prohibition of
trade with the Indians except through the truck merchant were economic methods
which looked to the gain of the adventurer in London rather than to the develop-
ment of a colonial settlement. When the settlers had become self-supporting and
capable of defense, then measures were to be taken to provide returns, so "that our
fleetes come not home empty." Discovery of the seas and of royal mines, exchange
of commodities, the exaction of tribute, and the development of the resources of
the country for the purpose of securing "wines, pitche, Tarre, sope-ashes, Steele,
Iron, Pipestaues, hempe, flaxe,'' silk grass, fishing for pearls, cod, and sturgeon were
to be the sources of revenue. The instructions placed authority implicitly in the
hands of the governor, who was expected to hear, but not necessarily to heed, the
advice of the council and to judge according to "naturall right and equity then
vppon the nicenes of the lawe."

The agents of the corporation — the governor and his council in Virginia — received
their authorization for the exercise of judicial as well as legislative powers through
a commission. The one issued to Sir Thomas Gates is lost, but doubtless is as similar
to that given to Lord La Warr'' as are his instructions. With the exception of a set
of "Instructions for such things as are to be sente from Virginia, IdlO,""^ these
orders and commissions are the onh' documents which show anything of the direct
authority exercised by the company over affairs in the plantation until the issue of
the "Great Charter of privileges, orders, and Lawes" in November, IBIS."*

Otherwise, the whole course of the activity of the company under Sir Thomas
Sraythe was in strong contrast with the work of Sir Edwin Sandys. It was a con-

«Care on the part of the company is also seen in the general instructions of 1609 to the lieutenant-
governor of Virginia, which are known only through a copy of the sixth article, preserved in the papers
of the Marquis of Lansdowne. Ihid., No. 9.

6 The commission bears the date February 28, 1610. It is printed in full in Brown, Gmesit. I,

c Printed in full in Brown, Oenesis, I, 384-386.

'' Post, p. 34. This set of instructions to Governor George Yeardley, although given late in
1618, belongs both in spirit and effect to the period of the Sandys-Southampton administration.


tinual struggle to arouse such interest in the scheme as would result in investment.
The problem of marketing the products of the colony, which concerned the later
company, did not arise until toward the close of the period, when a single unsuccessful
effort was made to gain a monopoly of the sale of tobacco. In order to increase the
capital stock, the company made personal appeals and issued printed statements and
descriptions which it scattered broadly. The story is told in the lists of adventurers
cited above, in the earnest endeavors to secure new planters and new adventures from
individual town and guild, in the efforts to enforce the paj'ment of sums already
adventured, in a few receipts concerning tobacco, in the lottery schemes, which were
legalized by the charter of 1612, and in printed broadsides and declarations. Thus the
sums adventured b}' individuals, by the various London companies, and b3' the towns
of England are given in a series of requests for adventure and in bills of adventure"
issued b}' the company and found in the records of those companies and towns* as
also in private collections. The chancery proceedings, in three suits, state that the
company attempted to secure an adventure of £18,000 and the equipment of 600
men during the year 1611, and the failure to accomplish its purpose was set forth by
the defendants as a reason for refusing to pay the sums adventured. Incidentally
there was mentioned an income in the year 1613 of £8,000 from the lottery, of
£2,000 from the sale of the Somers Islands, and of £600 or £800 from the disposal
of the ship De La Warr.'^ However, with the exception of an unpublished letter
from Sandys to the mayor of Sandwich'' concerning the adventure by that town, in
which he inclosed a list of the subscribers to that particular adventure, with the sums
set down bj' each,' the official records reveal but little as to the sums which must
have been received by the company.

In a similar manner there are unauthentic records of economic value concerning
the lotteries and the importation of tobacco. Of the latter a few receipts and mem-
oranda among the papers of Lord Sackville.'" and the Earl De La WarrJ' are positively

"For the text of these adventures, see Brown, Genesis, I, 238, 252-3, 308, 391-2 (has signature
of secretary and seal of company), 452-3, 453-4, 461-2, 463-5; II, 496 (signature and seal), 555. For
two not yet published see List of Records, pp. 122, 123, Nos. 16, 17, 23.

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