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haberdashers in 1407, the fishmongers in 1433, the vintners in 1437, the merchant tailors in 1466.^

During the sixteenth century the growth of the commercial spirit, fostered by the recent discovery of the New World, the more thorough exploration of the Southern Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the search for a North-west passage, led to the estab- lishment and incorporation of companies of foreign adventurers, similar in all respects to the earlier guilds, except that their mem- bers were foreign instead of domestic traders. Among the earliest of these were the African Company, the Russia Company, and the Turkey Company.^ The last two were called "regulated com- panies " ; that is, the members had a monopoly of the trade to Russia and to Turkey, but each member traded on his own account.

A more famous company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth in 1600, under the name of the Company of Merchants of London, trading to the East Indies.^ It had been found that the expense incident to fitting out ships for voyages, often taking several years for their completion, was too g^eat to be borne easily by individual merchants, and it was one of the claims to favorable consideration which the East India Company put forward, that ** noblemen, gentlemen, shopkeepers, widows, orphans, and all other subjects may be traders, and employ their capital in a joint stock." *

Sums of various amounts were subscribed, and the profits were to be distributed in the same proportions. This joint-stock ad- venture was not, however, identical with the corporation. Mem- bers of the corporation were not necessarily subscribers tb the joint stock, and any member could, if he liked, carry on private trade with the Indies, — a privilege belonging exclusively to mem- bers. By the charter, apprentices and sons of members were to be admitted to membership in the same way as was customary in the guilds.

The East India Company was, therefore, in its early days, like the other trading companies, — an association of a class of merchants to which was given the monopoly of carrying on a particular trade, and

1 I And. Hist of Commerce, 25a ^ Knight's Hist of England, vol. v. 39.

  • What follows in regard to the East India Company is based on ** The History of

European Commerce with India/' by David Macpberson, London, 181 2, and documents therein quoted.

  • From the defence of the Company in the Privy Council, 2 And. Hist. Com. 173.