The areas of the Virginia Company founded and organized by Bartholomew Gosnold of Grundisburgh in Suffolk, England and granted an exclusive charter by James I to the London and Plymouth companies; also showing the overlapping (yellow) area granted to both companies
The Virginia Company refers collectively to two joint stock companies chartered under James I on 10 April1606 with the goal of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. The companies were called the "Virginia Company of London" (or the London Company) and the "Virginia Company of Plymouth" (or the Plymouth Company); they operated with identical charters but with differing territories. An area of overlapping territory was created within which the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other. The Plymouth Company never fulfilled its charter, but its territory was claimed by England and became New England.
As corporations, the companies were empowered by the Crown to govern themselves, and they conferred that right onto their colonies. The Virginia Company failed in 1624, but the right to self-government was not taken from the colony. The principle was thus established that a royal colony should be self-governing, and this formed the genesis of democracy in America.