The British Monarchy did not have enough money to organize settlement activity in North America. Instead, they assigned that role to independent companies that raised money from merchants to accomplish this goal. King James gave the charter to settle the area around Virginia Company of London
On December 20th 1606, 105 settlers set sail to the New World to establish a colony for the London Virginia company. The group included 35 gentlemen, a minister, a doctor, 40 soldiers and a mixture of artisans and laborers. They arrived off the coast of Virginia in late April 1607. Captain Newport, who commanded the expeditions, was given instructions to find a site that was safe from Spanish attack, but gave access to the sea. Newport sailed up the James River. He found a site 50 miles up the river that was joined to the mainland by a small natural passageway, and thus defensible. He decided on that site and claimed it for James I. He called the new settlement “Jamestown”.
The settlers began by clearing the land and building a fortified settlement. They built small one and two room timber cottages and cleared additional land for planting crops. Initially, they found the Native Americans friendly and willing to trade, but relations with the native Indians remained uneven. Soon some of the negatives of the location of became apparent, as settlers began to die of disease– some from diseases they had brought from England and others from diseases they encountered in the mosquito infested swamp that they found initially in Jamestown. By winter, it was clear that not enough crops had been grown to survive the winter, a winter that turned out to be devastating. Despite trading with the Natives, by the end of the winter only 30 of the original settlers survived.
In the spring of 1608, Captain John Smith, who was a natural leader, took control of the settlement. Smith overcame one of the major problems of the settlement, the unwillingness of many of the noblemen to work. He made a simple rule: no work … no food.