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Chartered Companies

CHARTERED COMPANIES

CHARTERED COMPANIES played an important part in the colonization of the New World, though they did not originate for that purpose. By the sixteenth century the joint-stock company already existed in many countries as an effective means of carrying on foreign trade, and when the New World attracted the interest of merchants, investors formed companies to engage in transatlantic trade. Since the manufacture or cultivation of many products required the transportation of laborers, colonization became a by-product of trade. The first English company to undertake successful colonization was the Virginia Company, first chartered in 1606 and authorized to operate on the Atlantic coast between thirty-four and forty-five degrees north latitude. Later charters to the London branch of the Virginia Company (1609 and 1612) and to the Council of New England (1620) enlarged and developed the original project. This method of sponsoring colonization predominated until the Puritan Revolution of the 1640s. The New foundland Company of 1610, the Bermuda Company of 1615 (an enlargement of an earlier project under the auspices of the Virginia Company), the Massachusetts Bay Company of 1629, and the Providence Island Company of 1630 represent the most important attempts at trade and colonization. After the Puritan Revolution, the lord proprietor superseded the trading company as preferred sponsor of colonization, and both king and colonists became increasingly distrustful of corporations. Massachusetts and Bermuda, the last of the charter companies in control of colonization, lost their charters in 1684, though the former had long since ceased to be commercial in character.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Andrews, K. R., et al., eds. The Westward Enterprise: English Activities in Ireland, the Atlantic, and America, 1480–1650. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1979.

Cook, Jacob Ernest, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of the North American Colonies. New York: Scribners, 1993.

Viola F.Barnes/s. b.

See alsoColonial Charters ; Colonial Settlements ; Plymouth, Virginia Company of ; Virginia Company of London .

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chartered companies

chartered companies, associations for foreign trade, exploration, and colonization that came into existence with the formation of the European nation states and their overseas expansion. An association received its charter from the state and sometimes had state support. In the regulated company each member was an independent trader operating with his own capital and bound only by the general rules of the company charter. In the joint stock company the organization itself transacted the business, operating on the joint capital invested by members, each of whom shared proportionately in the profits and losses. The company received a monopoly of trade or colonization in a certain region and customarily exercised lawmaking, military, and treaty-making functions, subject to the approval of the home government, besides other privileges. The English Merchants Adventurers (1359) was more of a guild organization, but it foreshadowed such companies as England's Muscovy (1555), Levant (1581), East India (1600, perhaps the greatest of them all), Hudson's Bay (1670) and Holland's Dutch East India (1602). Such colonizing companies as the Virginia Company (1606), the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629), the French Royal West Indian Company (1664–74), the Santo Domingo Company (1698), and the Dutch West India Company (1621) were more quickly taken over by their governments. Later 19th-century colonizing and trading companies, such as the British North Borneo (1881), Royal Niger (1886), British South Africa (1888), and German East Africa (1884), did not last long and had more restricted powers, but attested to the continuing significance of the chartered company. In a technical sense, the modern corporation is a chartered company.

See G. Cawston, The Early Chartered Companies, 1296–1858 (1896, repr. 1968); R. Robert, Chartered Companies and their Role in the Development of Overseas Trade (1969).

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companies, chartered

chartered companies: see chartered companies.

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"companies, chartered." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/companies-chartered