The first permanent English settlement in the new world was established in 1607 when Jamestown was founded on the James River in Virginia 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. The Mayflower compact of Cape Cod was not signed until 11 Nov 1620. Jamestown marked the beginning of a twenty-five year period in which every settlement in the new colony was established through a joint-stock company, rather than giving extensive grants to wealthy landowners such as Sir Walter Raleigh, whose attempts at colonization in the 1570s and 1580s had failed.
The colony was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, a group of investors chartered in 1606 by King James I to establish a satellite English settlement in the Chesapeake region of North America. Three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, departed England in December 1606 with 105 passengers, and reached the Virginia coast in late April 1607 with 104 settlers. After two weeks of searching, the expedition, led by Captain Christopher Newport, selected a site on the north side of the river offering deep water anchorage and a good defensive position, and on 14 May 1607 work began on the Jamestown settlement.
King James authorized three charters for the Virginia Company to settle and operate the Jamestown colony for the profit of its investors. The first charter, signed April 10, 1606, listed the nine knights, esquires, and gentlemen, among others who were behind the original Virginia Company. In the second charter, signed May 23, 1609, many more investors are listed, among them Thomas Draper, who invested 87 pounds, 10 shillings (and Sarah Draper also invested 12 pounds, 10 shillings – one share). Thomas is not listed as arriving in the colony during the first ten years of settlement, but a Thomas and Sarah Draper landed in 1620. No connection is established.
My family of Drapers can be traced back with identified documents to the late 1600’s on the Chesapeake Bay’s “Northern Neck” of Virginia, the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. The generations that came before that date are peopled with probabilities, but direct links have been impossible to document. The biggest advantage to educated speculation is in the relatively small number of settlers who actually called Virginia, and especially the Northern Neck, their home during the first fifty years of the Virginia Colony.