We have now arrived at the seventeenth century. In 1606 King James I. issued the first English colonial charter. It created a first and a second Virginia Company, the one having its centre in London, and coming to be known as the London Company; the other made up of Bristol, Exeter, and Plymouth men, and gradually taking the title of the Plymouth Company. This latter company, the second, or Plymouth Company, authorized to plant between 38 degrees and 45 degrees north, effected a settlement in 1607 at the mouth of the Kennebec River. Little came of it but suffering, the colonists, after a severe winter, returning to England.
A colony of one hundred and five planters sent out by the first or London Company, proceeded, also in 1607, to Chesapeake Bay, entering James River, to which they indeed gave this name, and planted upon its banks Jamestown, the first permanent English colony on the continent.This London Company consisted of a council in England, appointed by the king, having the power to name the members of a local council which was to govern the colony, the colonists themselves having no voice.
It is well known that the very earliest population of the Old Dominion was not of the highest, but predominantly idle and thriftless. Vagabonds and homeless children picked up in the streets of London, as well as some convicts, were sent to the colony from England to be indented as servants, permanently, or for a term of years. Persons of the better class, to be sure, came as well, and the quality of the population, on the whole, improved year by year. Settlement here followed a centrifugal tendency, except as this was repressed by fear of the Indians. In 1616 the departments of Virginia were Henrico, up the James above the Appomattox mouth, West and Shirley Hundreds, Jamestown, Kiquoton, and King's Gift on the coast near Cape Charles--a wide reach of territory to be covered by a total population of only three hundred and fifty.
See also: 1584, 1586, 1587