Virginia Company, name of two English colonizing companies, chartered by King James I in 1606. By the terms of the charter, the Virginia Company of London (see London Company ) was given permission to plant a colony 100 mi (160 km) square between lat. 34°N and lat. 41°N; the Virginia Company of Plymouth (see Plymouth Colony ), to found a colony between lat. 38°N and lat. 45°N. The overlapping area was open to settlement by either company, though neither might establish a colony within 100 mi of the other. A local council was to be set up in each colony, but the king, through a council in England, had the final authority. By 1609 the Plymouth Company had become inactive, and the London Company was granted its own individual charter in that year. The Plymouth Company later received (1620) a new charter as the Council for New England.
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