The Virginia Company of London, 1606-1624


Author: Craven, Wesley Frank
Publication Date: 1957
Reprint Date: 2004
Pages: 57 pp.
ISBN: 9780806345550


This is an account of the English adventurers whose ambitions gave shape to the settlement at Jamestown and helped to see the colony through the many tribulations of its first 18 years. The Virginia Company of London, of course, not only launched the settlement of Jamestown but also, prior to its dissolution in 1624, introduced many of the practices which prefigured the style of governance, economy, and land tenure that would characterize the
Virginia colony.

In this briskly written and succinct re-telling, we encounter many of the personalities whose influence loomed so large during the colony’s formative years: Captain John Smith, Thomas West, Sir Thomas Smith, Sir Thomas Dale, and, after 1618, Sir Edwin Sandys. It was Sir Edwin who directed the affairs of Virginia during the fateful year 1619 when female colonists, a
representative assembly, and slavery were all introduced in the colony. Sandys also exerted the strength of leadership required to sustain immigration and to revive tobacco cultivation as the basis for the colony’s livelihood. Despite its diminutive size, Professor Craven’s treatise touches on all aspects of the Virginia Company’s existence: the organization of the Company, changes in the Charter, factions and rivalries within the organization, principal sailings, problems of settlement, and the causes of the Company’s demise. This is must reading for all students of early Virginia history and genealogy.

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