Search billions of records on

This project is not part of DNA sales. This project uses   

Web space provided by, sponsored by

Please read notice in the bottom bar.

Advertisements at the top and bottom of the pages are not part of this project, 

visiting the links helps pay for the website space 



From Roberta Estes on reviewing Dr. William Powell.

I'm reviewing the writings of Dr. William Powell on the colonists, and I will be posting what he had to say about the various surnames and people after spending several weeks in England researching the colonists and trying to find their families.

Now, before approaching the Lost Colonists as individuals, let's consider some figures concerning them. There were eighty single men (or at least men without wives along). There were eleven families consisting of husband and wife alone and two families with one child each. There were apparently four men who brought their sons, or perhaps they were younger brothers. There were six single women and three children with no apparent relatives among the other colonists. Incidentally, all the children were boys and, judging from a remark made by John White, one of the children with his mother was so young that he was still nursing at her breast.

Two children were born in August, 1587, after the colonists reached Roanoke-Virginia Dare and a Harvey child. 
I think it shows remarkable courage or else extreme ignorance and indifference that such a group should have done what they did. Imagine sailing on a ship of 120 tons or less (the "Queen Elizabeth" today is 83,000 tons) with nine children, at least one of whom was an infant, and two pregnant women. The voyage lasted just ten days short of three months.

There's probably nothing to be gained from trying to guess why these people came over. I've found evidence that many of them, not only among the Lost Colonists but among the other colonists and explorers, were apparently related by marriage. Some were undoubtedly friends or acquaintances because they were near neighbors. Edward Kelly and Thomas Wise, for instance, both members of Lane's colony, lived about 2 1/2 miles from each other in Devon. Some were employed by the same person-Atkinson, Fernandez, and Russell, for example, are all spoken of as being in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham. Four others are known to have served in the same military unit, and, as previously cited, two were in jail together. Quinn sets forth a number of them who were from London, particularly a group working on the Thames River.

The single women who came with the Lost Colony, however, pose something of a problem. Two women have surnames almost identical with those of two of the single men and I suspect that they actually were husbands and wives with the discrepancy in spelling explained by the fact that names were often spelled in various ways, as I have already suggested. Audrey T-a-p-p-a-n and Thomas T-o-p-a-n, and Joan Warren and Thomas Warner, they are. As further evidence in the latter case I have found that one Thomas Warner married a Johanna Barnes in 1584 and that he was a mariner. A certain controversial event in North Carolina history rests on slimmer documentary evidence than this!

Why would there have been three boys with no apparent relatives among the Lost Colonists? I have two clues and a guess. 
Thomas Humfrey. There was a Richard Humfrey among Lane's colonists who stayed a year. Perhaps young Thomas was his son or brother who liked what he heard from the earlier colonist, Thomas Smart. There had been a colonist with the very same name with Lane. The obvious conclusion is to say that this boy was his son. But why did he come? Did he think his father might still be here?
William Wythers. There were two members of the Taylor family among the Lost Colonists and two others had been here with Lane. One of the latter returned in 1590 with White. In 1592 in London one Robert Taylor married Elizabeth Wythers. There may have been some prior connection or at least acquaintance among the members of the two families.

Finally, I think my most exciting find was that Virginia Dare had a brother-at least a half-brother. His name was John Dare. He was an illegitimate son of Ananias Dare and the name of his mother appears not to be recorded. He was, nevertheless, acknowledged by his father and bore the name Dare. Under English law, an unaccounted for absence of seven years is necessary for a ruling of presumed death. A relative of young John Dare's, therefore, in 1594 petitioned that John be given his father's property. Ananias, the records show, was a member of St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, which still exists, near and almost in the shadow of St. Paul's Cathedral. In 1597 young Dare's petition was granted. At that time it is obvious that he was over ten years of age. I attempted to leave no stone unturned to trace him, but the only John Dare I could find was one mentioned in a manuscript of 1622 in the Essex Records Office relating to one John Dare who then was a surveyor. If this was Ananias's son, at that time he would have been around 36 years of age. A nineteenth-century Dare family lived in Essex but the records of it now in the county archives threw no light on my problem.

Let's look at some of the other and more obviously single women, however. Agnes Wood. In 1549 one Robert Woode of St. Bride's Church, London, to which at least one other member of the colony also belonged, married Johanna Toppam. Was our Agnes their daughter and therefore related to the Tappans? Or was she perhaps the Agnes Traver who married John Wood in London in 1577?51 John Wood had come to Roanoke in 1584. There may have been some reason for his wife to come.

Jane Pierce. In Ireland Henry Piers, who died in 1623, had been married to Jane Jones. Could Jane Pierce have been their daughter and related to Griffin, Jane, and John Jones who were also among the Lost Colonists? 

Another interesting possibility also exists. In 1568 one Jone Pierse, a Portuguese, registered as an alien in London. She was the sister of Simon and Fornando and a tenant of Frauncis White's. Simon, Fornando, and White all sound familiar when spoken in connection with the Roanokers. 

Jane Mannering. All I can find is that Jane was a common given name in the Mainwaring family of Peover and Newton and that the grandmother of Humfrey Newton, another of the Lost Colonists, was named Katherine Mainwaring. Were Jane and Humfrey related?

As to the other single women I haven't even a far-fetched clue. Maybe they were looking for husbands either among their unmarried fellow-colonists or perhaps they already had husbands among the 15 to 18 men left at Roanoke by Grenville the year before and they were coming to join them.

After working with the names of these early colonists for several years I've begun to imagine what some of them looked like. There are portraits or engravings of Raleigh, Drake, Cavendish, Grenville, and perhaps a few of the others who are fairly well known. I also discovered that portraits of Edward Gorges and David Williams exist and that a portrait at Trinity College, Oxford, may be of Thomas Hariot.

One phase of my study which I have yet had only an opportunity to think about is to consider any possible relationships which may have existed between the Roanokers and the settlers at Jamestown twenty years or so later. One instance of a possibility, I will cite, however. John Pory, secretary of the Virginia colony, came down into what is now Gates County in 1622. I had often wondered just why he made the journey and I have now discovered that his sister was married to a man named Ellis and that Thomas and Robert Ellis, the latter a boy, were among the Lost Colonists. I'd like to establish that a relationship existed between the various Ellises concerned.

We have always been disappointed, of course, that John White was unable to prolong his search for the Lost Colony when he returned in 1590. This feeling becomes even stronger when we realize that he had with him three men whose surnames were the same as members of the Lost Colony. There must have been real grief in their hearts when they had to turn away with doubt still clouding their minds.

Robert Coleman was with White and among the colonists were Thomas Colman and his wife. 
Henry Millett undoubtedly hoped to find Michael Myllet and John Taylor, who surely knew the country well from his stay of a year with Lane, must have been deeply moved to have to turn away without finding Clement and Hugh Taylor, and perhaps the boy, William Wythers, who might also have been a relative.

If we had relatives at a lonely outpost, say near the South Pole, and the sending of supplies to them depended upon the speedy defeat of an enemy who threatened to invade our shores, I dare say we'd buy War Bonds till our last penny was gone. In England there survives a list of persons who subscribed towards the defense of the country at the time of the threatened attack by the Spanish Armada.
I have checked this list against the list of family names among the Roanokers and believe I have come across some interesting evidence. 
Thirty-eight men and one woman with the same family names as the colonists contributed from 25 to 100 each. This represents an enormous sum of money. Of these names only nine were represented among the colonists and explorers before 1587. But twenty-nine contributors had the same family names as Lost Colonists and fifteen had the very same first name as well, making me think that in these fifteen cases, at least, it was the father of a colonist who contributed so generously. [Roberta's note - I would love to know who those 38 names were.]

Sir Richard Grenville, another famous Englishman who is remembered for a brilliant career at sea, was also a member of Parliament before visiting Roanoke. He and Raleigh were cousins, and like Cavendish he died at sea.

Abraham Kendall, who remained a year with Lane's colony, was a veteran navigator and renowned mathematician. He commanded a ship in 1578 in Frobisher's fleet, and 1594-1595 was in the West Indies. Several recent studies have been made of his contributions to navigation and now, as in his lifetime, he is "extolled for his mathematical skill." Sir Robert Dudley, for whom Kendall once worked, considered him one of the most expert mariners produced by England. He is buried in Central America.

Ralph Lane has been frequently "written up" but is still not clearly understood. His temper seems to have been the cause of his near-downfall on more than one occasion, and it appears that he was not able to get along with his fellow-men. He is believed to have served in Parliament in 1558 and again in 1562. It is definitely known that he was sheriff of Kerry in Ireland just prior to sailing with Grenville and that he was knighted in 1593. He was occupied with various military and naval assignments throughout most of his adult life. In 1603 he died in Dublin where he is buried.

Jacob Whiddon, who was with Grenville in 1585 when he brought over Ralph Lane and his colony, was a trusted servant and follower of Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh spoke of him as "a man most valiant and honest." Whiddon was sent out by Raleigh to explore the Orinoco River and he was with Raleigh on his voyage to South America in 1595. He died and was buried on the Island of Trinidad in the West Indies.
David Williams, who remained a year with Lane's colony, was a young Welsh lawyer recently called to the bar and later an outstanding London lawyer and judge. He served in Parliament for one year immediately prior to coming over and for three more years after he returned. In 1603 he was knighted.

I have my doubts about the identification of John Jones of the Lost Colony with Dr. John Jones, an outstanding Welsh physician, but I'd like to tell you one point in favor of it. The Welshman was a most prolific writer of medical books but his last known place of residence was in 1573 although he published a book in 1579. Might not such an intellectually curious physician have been anxious to visit the New World?

Thomas Hariot, mathematician and astronomer, is too well known for his scientific report on the newfound land of Virginia to require further identification. It is worth noting, however, that a mathematical study of his embodies inventions which gave algebra its modern form and that he used telescopes simultaneously with Galileo. Dean John W. Shirley of State College is writing a biography of Hariot which undoubtedly will contain much to delight and surprise all who are interested in this period of history.

Edward Gorges was a cousin of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, Lord Proprietor of the Colony of Maine, and his mother and Sir Walter Raleigh were first cousins. Edward was a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, and came to Roanoke in 1585 with Grenville. He later was employed by Queen Elizabeth as a personal messenger to Henry IV of France, and he was knighted by her successor, James I. He is buried in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster, not far from Sir Walter Raleigh.

Next in alphabetical order comes Sir Francis Drake. He, too, is well known and is still one of England's greatest heroes. His home is now a museum and his famous drum, on display there, is said to be heard at any time when England is in danger. The famous bowl with which he is said to have been playing on the Hoe at Plymouth when the Spanish Armada approached is also there. Incidentally, his home, Buckland Abbey near Plymouth, had earlier belonged to the Grenville family and it is believed to have been the birthplace of Sir Richard.

Marmaduke Constable, a member of Lane's expedition of 1585-1586, might be said to have been famous on a local scale. I cite him here merely as an example, of which there are others, of representatives of prominent families who came to Roanoke. Marmaduke entered Caius College, Cambridge, in 1581, so he must have joined Lane when he was fresh out of college. He is described as a "gentleman" and eventually succeeded his father as local squire, married a neighbor's daughter, and left descendants who still live at the same place. Our Marmaduke is buried in York Minster, one of the "must" cathedrals on all lists for tourists of England to visit.

Several of the Roanokers are "famous" enough to be recorded in standard biographical works, especially the Dictionary of American Biography and the Dictionary of National Biography. Amadas and Barlowe are examples of this and we need not make further mention of them.

Thomas Cavendish is nearly always given special mention in accounts of the Roanoke colonists and it is generally implied that he is famous and widely known. Perhaps so, but I had to "read up" on him to get the facts. His chief claim to fame is based on the fact that he sailed around the world in 1586, the year after he visited Roanoke. For Grenville's voyage to Roanoke in 1585 he supplied and commanded a ship, perhaps as a sort of training period for his circumnavigation. In 1591 he sailed again on what was to have been a second voyage around the world, but he died at sea in June of the following year.

Thomas Hewet may have been the Lost Colonists' lawyer. At any rate he held the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law from Oxford.24 Robert Holecroft, "of Westminster, co. Middlesex, gentleman," may have held a similar post in Lane's colony. He later appeared in court representing several Thames watermen, as dock and river workers were called.

It is also possible that one of Lane's men did a bit of recruiting for his alma mater. Both William White and Richard Wildye were graduates of Brasenose College, Oxford, and we find that young Thomas Hulme, a member of the same expedition, entered the same college the year following his return home. Hulme later studied law. Another young man in the same group, Richard Ireland, entered Christ Church, Oxford, two years later and eventually was Headmaster of Westminster School.

Both Benjamin and John Wood who came in 1584 with Amadas and Barlowe later enjoyed high positions. Benjamin had an interesting career at sea and was a noted navigator and captain. He has a place in the annals of British naval history for his attempt to reach China. He is known to have arrived at the Malay Peninsula but was later lost at sea. John had already been a muster captain and after returning home became one of the "Jurates" of the town and port of Sandwich. He was knighted in 1603 at the coronation of James I.

John Spendlove, later a Lost Colonist, was described on a 1585 muster list as a "gentleman" and reported present with his horse.

John Stukely who came over in 1585 was Grenville's brother-in-law and the father of Sir Lewis Stukely who had an ugly part in the final downfall and death of Sir Walter Raleigh.

John Twyt, one of Lane's men, appears as a London apothecary in 1580. 

Anthony Rowse, another member of Lane's expedition, had been a member of Parliament the previous year and afterwards was sheriff of Cornwall for several years. He was knighted in 1603 and, at the death of Drake, was executor of his estate.

Here again another extreme may be cited. Richard Sare, of the same expedition, is described in contemporary records simply as a laborer. (I have my own personal opinion as to which man was more valuable in the wilds of the New World.)

There probably was some reason for Lane to bring along a customs official, but off hand I haven't discovered it. Anyway, Christopher Marshall is described as "one of the Waiters in the port of London," and Waiter in those days meant customs official.

Lost Colonist William Nicholes may have been a tailor. A "clothworker" of that name was married in London in 1580 and in 1590 we find the grant of a license to someone else "to occupy the trade of a clothier during the minority of George Nicholles, son of Wm. Nicholles."

George Raymond, who came over in 1585, was a captain in the Royal Navy at the time of the Spanish Armada threat. In 1591 when he sailed on an expedition to the West Indies he was described as a "gentleman captain and privateer promoter."
There seem to have been at least two college professors among the Roanokers. Thomas Luddington, one of Lane's men, was a fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford (and, incidentally, afterwards Preacher to the City of Lincoln) while Thomas Harris, a Lost Colonist, was a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, from 1579 to 1586. He held the master's degree from the same college.

Henry Greene, a member of the very first expedition, the one headed by Amadas and Barlowe, was a graduate of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and it has been suggested that he is of the same family as the ancestors of General Nathanael Greene of Revolutionary War, and especially Guilford Court House, fame.

One of Lane's men, Rowland Griffin, was convicted and sent to prison in 1594 for robbery.20 On the other hand, John Harris, a member of the same expedition, was knighted in 1603 at the coronation of James I.

Anthony Cage, another 1587 colonist, had been sheriff of Huntington in 1585. 

Two other Lost Colonists, James Hynde and William Clement, according to contemporary manuscripts now in the Essex Records Office, had been in prison together in Colchester Castle near London, a general jail, for stealing.

Perhaps to be described as "at the other end of the ladder," was Thomas Ellis, of the Lost Colony, also. Before leaving his home in Exeter he had been a member of the vestry of his parish church, St. Petrock, which still stands on the main business street of Exeter.

Dr Powell says the following: 
Marke Bennet and William Berde both Lost Colonists, are described in contemporary records as a husbandman and a yoeman, respectively.
Richard Berry, a member of the same group, was described as a "gentleman" and was a muster captain in 1572. 
Logically enough among Lane's men who stayed a year there was a shoemaker-John Brocke. 

Francis Brooke, treasurer of the 1585 expedition, seems later to have been a naval captain who commanded several privateer vessels.
John Fever was a basket-maker-a useful occupation in the colony, no doubt, with corn to be carried and fish weirs to be made.
William Brown is a common name, but one of that name was a London goldsmith prior to 1587 when the name appears on the roll of the Lost Colony.

Contact Information: 

Electronic mail

General Information/Project Membership: 



The Lost Colony Research Group is in NO WAY affiliated with The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research.  The Lost Colony Y-DNA and MT-DNA projects at Family Tree DNA are NOT IN ANY WAY  affiliated with The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research,
regardless of what their links imply.


"Please notify us of any claims to the contrary."


There is no fee to join our group and no donation of monies or objects are needed to participate in "The Lost Colony Research Group".


As with any DNA project, individuals pay for their own DNA testing, but the
group itself  - is strictly volunteer and free to join, upon approval of membership.


Neither, myself, nor the Lost Colony Research Group together or individually are  responsible for the personal content submitted by any individual to this website.


Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2008 Last modified: October 10, 2010