Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Company (Lat. cum and panis), literally an assemblage of comrades or rather messmates. 1. In commerce a company generally denotes a combination of individuals who club their resources for trading purposes, but who do not take a personal share in the management, this being entrusted to a board of directors chosen from among them. In a partnership all the members have a share in the management unless they prefer to be sleeping partners. In former times every member of a company was liable to the extent of his fortune for the debts of the company; but this principle was found to act as a discouragement to the investment of capital, and in 1862 a Limited Liability Act was passed whereby each member of a company registered under the Act was liable for no more than the amount of his own shares. This Act, with subsequent modifications, is the basis of the majority of companies now formed, and many old companies and banks have placed themselves wholly or in part under its regulation and protection. The last few years have seen a great development of the Limited Liability principle. Some companies are quasi-public, that is, their shares are to be bought and sold in open market.

2. In a military sense, a division of an infantry battalion, corresponding with the troop in cavalry and the battery in artillery, and commanded by a captain. It is the administrative unit of the battalion which consists of eight fighting companies, of 120 men strong, and two depot companies, and commanded by a captain, aided by a lieutenant and second-lieutenants, with a certain proportion of non-commissioned officers. The company is divided for drill purposes into two half-companies, each consisting of two sections, and has its own accounts and books, for the due keeping of which the captain is responsible to the battalion commanding officer. An English battalion seldom has its full complement. In most other European armies the company, while still remaining the administrative unit of the battalion, is much more numerous, consisting (in the German army, for instance) of 249 men, and the captain is mounted instead of, as with us, on foot.