Unlike later northern colonies settled by families, Jamestown was occupied mostly by transient male fortune seekers who intended to accumulate wealth and return to England. The Virginia Company, which founded and governed Jamestown, desired permanence. Mail order brides became the successful solution.
The Virginia Company began soliciting female immigrants, but very few responded. After the devastating disease and starvation of Jamestown in 1608, most European women were repulsed at the idea of moving to a struggling colony.
By 1614, it seemed the colony would surely falter without females for bachelors to marry and establish households with. In 1619, funds were solicited to pay passage for eligible women. When the funding ran out, a new plan was needed.
Brilliant progressive ideas were then put into place.
Women were considered vital to the stabilization and future of the colony. Now revered as valuable founding mothers, women were chosen with care. They lined up, with character references in hand, hoping to be selected. Not all were.
She was not coerced, so what made her want to go?
Her transport was free and she was provided clothes, shoes, and sheets.
Upon arriving in the colony, she was given free shelter and food until married.
It was she who chose who to marry. A few chose to remain single.
Upon marriage, a husband paid the company 120 pounds of tobacco as reimbursement for her transport costs. (Not to be misconstrued as a purchase.)
She was given property shares equal to those given to her husband.
She had more dower and inheritance rights than her English counterparts.
She had the right to sue, be sued, conduct business, and sell real property.
Within a year after Jamestown settlement began recruiting brides, the French in New France (Quebec) followed suit. Other budding settlements on the Chesapeake Bay did the same.
Over all, the bride recruitment program was a success and met its goal. Houses were built, families grew, farms and businesses were established. People stayed. More arrived.
The first women recruits were called Jamestowne Brides. "Mail Order" is just a modern convenient phrase.