This chapter sets out to examine data of Britain’s foreign direct investment during the years before 1914, in the context of the country’s overall foreign investment record. It outlines the principles behind an investigation into Britain’s overseas assets in the period shortly before 1914. As to portfolio investment, individuals or corporate investors held securities of overseas-based companies in their portfolios. Their holdings in each represented too small a proportion of the whole for them to be able to influence its strategy, even had they wished to do so. Two basic questions arise about overseas companies. The first is why many or most of these companies were in the past regarded as portfolio investments rather than allocated to the direct (entrepreneurial) category. The second is how far they can be identified as freestanding companies, where control from Britain was weak or nonexistent.