The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) was founded in 1701 as an incorporated company. William III granted this status to the company by royal charter and it was central to SPG’s activity as an extra-territorial agency engaged in mission, commerce and politics beyond the boundaries of England as an emergent nation-state. The incorporated company was a flexible structure used by monarchs, projectors, and adventurists to found overseas plantations, establish trade networks, and generate wealth; it allowed the fusion of commerce with charitable impulses, and the two were often inextricably and complexly entangled. The Society’s founding members were largely drawn from London’s political, clerical, and merchant elites, and this tight network of overlapping and powerful interests meant that SPG exercised significant power and patronage, both throughout the British Isles and beyond as the Society sought to fulfil its mission to propagate the gospel to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, enslaved Africans, and expatriate Britons of varying degrees of religiosity whether conformist or dissenters in continental Europe, the Caribbean, and North America.
Liam D. Haydon, Corporate Culture: National and Transnational Corporations in Seventeenth-Century Literature (Routledge, 2018).
Koji Yamamoto, Taming Capitalism Before its Triumph: Public Service, Distrust, and ‘Projecting’ in Early Modern England (Oxford, 2018).