With its 1606 charter, the Virginia Company became the first joint-stock company in England that was formed for the specific purpose of creating a colony in the New World. In 1607, the company provided the capital to establish the first permanent English settlement in North America, when settlers built an outpost on the James River and named it Jamestown.

Virginia Company, a Joint-Stock Concern

A joint-stock company forms when individuals organize to provide the capital for a business, much like a modern corporation. The Virginia Company received a charter from King James I of England, and the company formed two divisions. The London Company was responsible for the settlement on the James River, which they funded by selling shares for 12 pounds, 10 shillings each.

Privileges of Membership

The London Company had two types of members. The first, known as Adventurers, purchased shares in the company and received a share of the profits, but they left the traveling to other members, who were known as Planters. This second group actually went to the New World and planted settlements. They agreed to work for a contracted number of years in exchange for clothing, shelter and food. Unlike indentured servants, though, Planters received a land grant and a portion of the company's profits when they completed their contract term.