Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)




James P. Whittenburg

Committee Member

Kathrin Levitan

Committee Member

Nicole Dressler


My thesis presents women from the Records of the Virginia Company of London, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1906, Library of Congress online. During the 1619-1624 years of the records’ Court Book, Lady Lawarr, widow of Virginia’s first governor named by the Company, was important in distributing Virginia Company shares. Lady Lawarr worked, usually with an agent, to transfer shares from Lawarr’s estate to diverse people. Women had surprising agency in dealing with the Company, but there were some limits. There were delays in implementing grants for compensations. Some women worked with agents to get property owed to them. Petitions filed in Virginia during the migration considered women’s own interests and deceased husbands’ property Small as well as large sets of land shares were distributed. Although the colony saw scarcity and dissension during 1619, transactions in Court generally proceeded according to expectations. Women were treated as valid transactors and complainants, although they sometimes worked with agents and sometimes did not achieve the specific results they hoped for. Women sometimes petitioned for their husbands’ interests. Men sometimes petitioned for interests of female as well as male family members. A November 3, 1619, proposal to bring to Virginia 100 young women to marry residents was intended so that residents would not want to leave the colony. After the initial settlement of women, the migration idea continued to appeal. The City of London and some livery company guilds supported colonization, although Court records show some strategic hesitation comparing costs of raising apprentices in England with the costs of sending young people abroad. November 15, 1620, the City’s continuing support of colonization benefits to individuals was adapted after there were complaints that the young migrants received too generous terms. The City did ask the Court to provide funds toward the migrants’ care and travel. After the large group of women and girls was sent to Virginia, bringing or taking wives to Virginia became somewhat common. For example, the Court learned June 13, 1621, that an apothecary would bring himself and his wife, paying transport himself, if the Company would transport two Children. July 16, 1621, a joint stock company was proposed for the subscription roll for sending women to Virginia to become wives. Governance was important to the colonists. They filed many petitions, and discussion of these generally appeared in Court records. Among the proposals was one to consolidate land and call it Mayds Towne. One conflict about the money to be paid to children brought to Virginia, settled at five marks rather than five pounds each, reflects a broader ambivalence about colonization. Women brought to Virginia came to a colony moving toward tobacco dominance in agriculture. Lady Lawarr’s dealings interacted with those of Henry Rolfe, brother of John Rolfe, who had been married to Pocahontas before she died. Religion was a significant part of colony formation.




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