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The Citie of Raleigh how it became The Lost Colony

 

The Story of Roanoke, Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony
By Roberta Estes, copyright 2009

 

 

The Lost Colony of Roanoke….a romantic mystery that the history books haven’t treated very kindly, or at best, not accurately. Most people think of a young, loving mother holding an infant daughter, and then the picture fades to grey, oblivion, because we don’t know what happened next. 

Almost everyone has their own idea of what happened, and there are almost as many theories as people who are interested in the topic of the Lost Colony. Yes indeed, Virginia Dare, born August 18th, 1587, the first English person to be born on the land that would nearly 200 years later become the United States has become quite the enigma, the mystery that won’t be solved. Did she live? Did she marry? Is she White Doe? Was she the maiden reported to have escaped from the Powhatan slaughter? Does Virginia Dare have living descendants today? And what about the other colonists? Do they?

Obviously, I don’t have the answers, or we wouldn’t still be looking for the Lost Colonists. They would be called by the much less interesting name of “The Found Colonists”. No, the earliest unsolved mystery in North America has not yet been solved, but we inch closer every day.

What does history tell us about Roanoke, as the project of colonizing the eastern seaboard was called? The official version is very neat and clean. Sir Walter Raleigh sent an exploratory expedition in 1584 followed by a larger military expedition in 1585 that stayed until the early summer of 1586, built a fort, but then went back to England. In 1587, a group of men, women and children arrived in what was then Virginia, now North Carolina, to establish a permanent Cittie of Raleigh. John White, the Governor and the grandfather of the child born days after arrival, Virginia Dare, returned to England for supplies but was unable to return until 1590. When he did, the colonists were gone, the fort deserted, and he was unable to find them even though they had left him a message in the word Croatoan carved on a tree. He returned to England and was not able to return again. The colonists were likely slain by Indians. And as far as the official “history book” version of the Lost Colony…that’s the end of the chapter and the book. But in reality, it’s only the beginning, or perhaps more accurately, a short extract from the middle of a book that’s more like a juicy murder mystery combined with a cliff-hanger soap opera than a history book.

There is more to the story, much more. When I heard about Roanoke, I asked myself what brought 117 people to an uninhabited wilderness with people they considered savages living adjacent to them and grossly outnumbering them? Who would undertake such a risky journey, and why? There had to be more to the story. 

The story of the Lost Colony is like a large knit sweater, once you start to pull on one raveling, slowly the entire sweater starts to unravel, and eventually, that small raveling is much larger than you ever expected. So, let’s tug a little bit and see where we wind up.

The Lost Colony was never referred to in that fashion until the launch of the Lost Colony outdoor drama in 1937. From that time forward, it has known as such. Before that, it was simply known as Roanoke.

The story of Roanoke really begins long before 1584. It begins in 1493 actually, when Pope Alexander divided the world into two portions, half for Spain and half for Portugal, excluding all others. This action would set the stage for the next century of conflict, not only between the excluded countries, namely England, and the included counties, but also between Catholics and Protestants. 

The players in this intrigue read like a Who’s Who of 16th Century Europe. Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1552 in Hayes Barton in Devon, the youngest of 5 sons. He subsequently attended Oxford and led the life of a wealthy adventurer. Walter Raleigh, or Ralegh as he spelled his name, was not knighted until after he established the “Cittie of Raleigh”, so he was born simply “Walter Raleigh”, the Sir being appended after Elizabeth knighted him.

In 1556 King Philip ascended the throne of Spain, controlling half of Europe, per the Catholic Pope.

In 1558, Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, ascends the English throne, having inherited it from her half-sister, Queen Mary Tutor (known as Bloody Mary), wife of Prince Phillip of Spain.

Queen Elizabeth, known as the Virgin Queen because she never married, was born in 1533, 19 years before Sir Walter Raleigh. 

Ten years later, by 1568, the Inquisition is in full swing, and King Philip overruns the Protestant Netherlands, condemning the entire country to death. The people in the Netherlands rebelled, and King Philipp had to send reinforcements and money to attempt to subdue the rebellion. However, French Huguenots chased the Spanish ship carrying gold into an English Harbor. Elizabeth, suffering from financial difficulties, viewed this as we would view winning the lottery. This was her lucky day indeed and she confiscated the ship and its cargo. This caused a “furious rage” in Spain. 

1568 and 1569 continue to be trying times in England. In 1568 Sir Humphrey Gilbert crushes a revolt in Catholic Ireland instigated by the Spanish. Later, Mary Queen of Scots is taken into custody and confined after repeated attempts on the life of Queen Elizabeth. In 1569, Catholics in northern England revolt. 

In 1570, Pope Pius excommunicates Queen Elizabeth and encourages her overthrow. She must have found this humorous on some level, as it appears to be analogous to shutting the barn door after the cow has left (no offense to Queen Elizabeth meant).

On August 22, 1572, the horrific event known to history as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurs in Paris where Catholics massacre an estimated 30,000 Protestant Huguenots. All Protestants are ordered to leave the country within 20 days, or be condemned to death. Protestants were unable to sell their land or possessions, because everyone knew that in 20 days or less, they could simply take the land and whatever was left. Raleigh left Oxford and fought in France for the Protestants.

In 1577 we find the first mention of John White, the man who would become the eventual Governor of the Cittie of Raleigh. John was a native of Bristol and he sketched a native, Calicoughe, from Baffin Island.

Also in 1577, we meet another player, Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s closest advisor. Walsingham is a machevillian spy and has formed an entire underground network of lowlife scoundrels to feed him information, is not above torture, and willing to do whatever it is he needs to do to achieve his ends. Elizabeth believes him to be her most trusted resource. In 1577, for reasons unknown, he saves Simon Fernandez, a pirate, from the gallows for murdering Portuguese sailors. In essence, Walsingham purchases his life and Fernandez becomes “Walsingham’s man”. 

On June 11, 1578, Sir Walter Raleigh’s half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert is granted a patent by Queen Elizabeth to discover and occupy North American lands not occupied by Spain. This patent expires in 6 years if occupation has not occurred. 

In 1579, Raleigh and his brother Carew captain a reconnaissance mission with Simon Fernandez, described by Raleigh as “a thorough-paced scoundrel”. In 1580, leaking ships, storms and desertion cause the mission to fail and Gilbert’s fortune is lost.

Also in 1580, no longer happy with just “half the world”, Spain invades and captures Portugal in just 70 days. Spain has become a very powerful European aggressor. 

We find John White in 1580 joining the Painters and Stainers Company in London. We know that the now famous watercolors from the 1584 and 1585-1586 trips were John White’s work. They are extremely valuable historically as they are the first visual records of Native American life and villages and when compared with the various journals that exist from this timeframe, his paintings appear to be very accurate. Take a look for your self here: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/monacannation/sets/72157594319026952/ 

About this time, Raleigh hired an artist in London named LeMoyne to draw the Timucan Indians in Florida. White’s style is very similar to LeMoyne’s and White may have been studying under him. 

In 1581, Raleigh, age 29 and described as a “tall, handsome and bold man” is summoned to London by Queen Elizabeth, age 48, who seeks his opinion about Irish politics, quickly becoming her favorite. His rise at court in meteoric, causing a great deal of jealousy and creating enemies among those who have spent years “paying their dues” and slowly rising in the social ranks. His ascent is viewed as a type of oracle by some. Elizabeth is quite smitten, giving him the pet name of “her Water” and “her Shepherd of the Ocean”. He is called the “Darling of the English Cleopatra”, by others, not so affectionately. He now lives at he Queen’s palace and she eventually finances his Roanoke expeditions. The story of the English gentleman who takes off his cape and lays it across the mud puddle for the lady to cross was in actuality Raleigh and Elizabeth.

In 1583, having again found financing through Raleigh, Gilbert plans to settle a colony of Catholic dissidents in Newfoundland. His fleet sets sail on June 11, 1583 but on September 9th, Gilbert is drowned, “swallowed up by the sea” along with his frigate.

Walsingham, seeing the opportunity, makes a bid for Gilbert’s patent which, due to his death, is now once again available. However, unexpectedly, Queen Elizabeth gives Gilbert’s patent to Raleigh, forever pitting Walsingham against Raleigh and causing him to seek every opportunity to cause Raleigh to fail. However, Walsingham’s schemes are not evident, straightforward or above-board, as we will see.

Raleigh, anxious to begin, sends a reconnaissance mission to seek out a more favorable location for his colony. On July 4th, 1584, they select Roanoke Island as a headquarters for their reconnaissance mission. The island is protected from the open ocean, and from the Spaniards by the Outer Banks, is relatively easy to defend since it is an island, and has a fresh water source. They stay a few weeks, evaluating the area and interacting with the native people and when they return, two Indians accompany them, Manteo and Wanchese. Manteo is from the village immediately south of Roanoke, on current day Hatteras Island and Wanchese appears to be the advisor of Wingina, chief of the village on Roanoke Island and its sister village across the sound on mainland. They arrive back in England in October 1584 and during the next few months, the Indians are treated quite royally, visiting palaces and castles and learning English. They are also used to drum up support for a permanent colony in Virginia, as the merchants must see some reason to invest in the project and the Indians, describing their natural resources provide the perfect enticement. After their return to Virginia in 1585, Manteo would remain forever loyal to the English, but Wanchese does not, and in fact seems to turn against the English for reasons unknown. 

On January 6, 1585, Queen Elizabeth knights Walter Raleigh, so now he is officially Sir Walter Raleigh.

On April the 9th, a military expedition of 600 men commanded by Raleigh’s cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, sets out for Roanoke, along with Manteo and Wanchese who are being returned home. Not all 600 men reach Roanoke however. Some men become ill and die, some decide that pirating in the West Indies is a much more attractive option, and some ships are lost in storms. About 200 men actually arrive on Roanoke. However, their ship carrying food is wrecked on the Outer Banks shoals among allegations of incompetence between Ralph Lane and Simon Fernandez. It’s unclear, but it may be that during the salvage efforts another officer, Butler, may have killed about 20 members of an Indian nation who lived 60 miles inland who were enemies of the Hatteras. This is the point at which Wanchese distances himself from the English.

In May of 1585, King Philip of Spain places an embargo on all English merchant ships in Spanish ports, subjecting the sailors to the Inquisition. The situation between Spain and England is slowly escalating towards open war. In retaliation, Elizabeth issues letters of reprisal to privateering vessels to recoup her losses. The difference between a pirate and a privateer is the blessing of the Queen. The Queen shared in the profits of any prize brought home to England, 20% to her and the rest to the ship’s owner, captain and crew. In essence, this constituted undeclared war.

Unaware of any of these developments of course, the group of men at Roanoke built a fort and proceeded to explore inland, accompanied by Manteo. The men were particularly interested in finding gold, copper and silver. They were also scouting for sites for the permanent settlement, looking at the availability of farmland and the ability to defend a fort.

On July the 11th, 4 vessels with 50 men and Manteo as their interpreter venture inland and visit the Secotan people. John White draws a picture of the chief’s wife and child carrying a doll given as a gift to the child. Four days later, they reach the town of Secota, Wingina’s capital city, after visiting the village of Aquascogoc the previous day. Upon arrival at Secota, they discover that a silver chalice is missing and they return to Aquascogoc to seek the chalice, believing that someone there stole it during their visit. The chalice is not forthcoming, and the soldiers burn the village. The residents are confused by the change in behavior, friendly one day and clearly enemies the next. Unprepared for this turn of events, the people flee and no resistance is offered. However, given the time of year, their fields would be ruined, eliminating their ability to harvest corn to tide them over the winter, causing a hardship on the entire Indian community in the area if they are not to starve.

Later in July, the soldiers ask Wingina if they can stay over the winter on Roanoke Island. He begrudgingly says yes, but only under the condition that they do not ask for food or help. He says that the 1584 expedition depleted their food supplies and so has the burning of Aquascogoc. On August 17th, they complete their larger fort on the island and prepare for the upcoming winter. Five days later, the ships sail for England, leaving 107 men and their commander, Lane, with no supplies and no food and a promise to the Indians that they won’t ask them for any. This lack of planning and foresight is amazing. However, Grenville captures a Spanish ship on the way home and arrives in October, a hero.

An additional problem in Virginia is that 1585 was a year of severe drought. Scientists today tell us it may have been the worst drought in 800 years. In the midst of this drought, a comet streaked across the sky on September 27th and the Indians began to die. Many die, including Wingina’s brother and another important man in the village. Some blame the colonists, but others feel that the tribe is being punished by angry Gods because they are not helping the colonists. Still others feel that the colonists are Gods, or those who have died previously who have come back and are now immortal, because the colonists are not perishing like the Indians. Today of course we understand that the colonists had immunity against European illnesses that the Indians simply didn’t posses.

Over the winter of 1585/1586, the journals tell us that at least one soldier was hung, although his crime is unrecorded. However we know that only 3 things are hanging offences; falling asleep on guard duty, disobeying a direct order or raping a woman. If his offense was rape, the only women would have been native women and that would, of course, have eroded relationships even further. 

We do know that the soldiers went on reconnaissance missions as far as “140 miles into the main” in search of copper. The Indians in White’s drawings often wear copper ornaments and the English are convinced that there must be a rich source of copper and other minerals if they can simply locate the mine.

In February of 1586, a second epidemic further devastates the Native people. 

In the spring, while in search of gold in a native village, a native boy is kidnapped and all who resist are killed. Relationships deteriorate further.

Finally, in June, as a preemptive strike, Lane and his men massacre the people in the village across the sound from Roanoke Island, Wingina’s village, and they behead Wingina. At this point, the only friendly tribe towards the English is Manteo’s village on Croatoan Island. They have effectively not only alienated the others, but turned them into enemies seeking revenge.

Sir Francis Drake is privateering in the Caribbean in June, “visiting” several islands. For good measure, he attacks and destroys the Spanish stronghold of St. Augustine on his way north to stop at Roanoke. He arrives in Roanoke in a hurricane on June the 8th. He may or may not have had captured Indian and African slaves with him, along with Moors and 100 Turks that we know he had on board because they were subsequently ransomed to the Turkish empire after their return to England. We do know that 3 escaped slaves stated that they were being taken to Roanoke to work. The topic of slaves and Moors will be addressed elsewhere. For the purposes of this story, their arrival in a hurricane and the subsequent sinking of several ships on the shoals on the Outer Banks in the hurricane is significant. Drake was attempting to offload food and supplies to the military colonists, when the ship, half unloaded, was lost to the storm. 

The geography of the outer banks requires that the larger ships unload to smaller ships, canoes or pinnaces as the water is too shallow inside of the outer banks islands for the larger boats.  This means that goods, supplies and men all have to transfer to smaller boats to get from the barrier islands to Roanoke Island across the sound.  In a hurricane, the barrier islands are extremely unsafe.  They shift, disappear and are created during storms.  The area on the outside of the islands for a distance of 100 miles or so is called the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for a reason. 

Some of Drake’s men mutiny, in fear for their lives on the shoals, and head with their boats for England.  Drake offers to leave his smaller boats for the military colonists, but after 6 days, the decision is for all of the men to leave with Drake for England.  On June 19th, having devastated the native population with disease, warfare and famine, they leave, taking Manteo with them once again along with a second Indian, Towaye, for England.   

Unfortunately, 3 men who are inland on a reconnaissance mission are left behind.  Imagine the surprise of those men when they return to find that their comrades have departed and they are left to fend for themselves.  I’m thinking this is the definition of a very bad day.
Just a few days after their departure for England, Raleigh’s supply ship captained by Richard Grenville arrives and finds the fort deserted. Unaware of the events that have transpired, they leave 15 men behind to “hold the fort”. These men are known as the Grenville 15. Grenville leaves to return to England.

During this time in England, Elizabeth has appointed Raleigh “Captain of the Guard”, the person who will be physically closest to her always. He sleeps outside her quarters, protecting her. Two very powerful men become jealous enemies of Raleigh, Walsingham, of course, and now the Queen’s rumored former lover, Sir Richard Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

Wasting no time, Raleigh appoints John White Governor of the Cittie of Raleigh on January 4, 1787 and begins preparations to leave. Each settler will receive, among other enticements, 500 acres of land. John White later says that he personally recruited many of these people, and because of that he feels a great deal of responsibility for their predicament after they become stranded.

John White may have been related to Cuthbert White another colonist, and he may have been related to the Paynes as well. In 1788 an original collection of White’s paintings turned up in the hands of Thomas Payne, a London bookseller.

On April 26th, 1587, the colonists leave for Roanoke. On July 27th, they arrive on the Hatterask Island to leave Manteo (Towaye died in England) and to inquire about the 15 men who were left the previous year. When they first arrived in Manteo’s village, Croatoan, the people were fearful and seemed to want to fight until Manteo called to them. Initially pleased to see Manteo, they then recognized Stafford, a man who was along in 1584 and plundered their food supplies. They asked the English not to “gather or spill” any of their corn, because they had but little. The English are then told that the Grenville 15 were set upon by Wingina’s men and men from the village they had burned, that two of them were killed and the rest escaped in a boat from Hatterask Island. 

White tries to repair the relationship with Manteo’s people and they debate what to do about the damage done the previous year by Lane with destruction of the two villages. 

About August first, the colonists decide to continue north “for the Bay of Chesepiok where we intended to make our seat and fort, according to the charge give us among other directions in writing under the hand of Sir Walter Raleigh.” They stop at Roanoke at the fort and indeed find the skeleton of one person and the fort quite abandoned and overgrown. They stayed for a few days. 

On August 7th, George Howe was out on the beach, alone, crabbing and was brutally killed by the remnants of Wingina’s men. 

On August 8th, 24 colonists, Stafford and John White set out for the village of Dasamonquepeuc, Wingina’s village directly across from Roanoke Island on the shore of the mainland, to seek revenge for the death of Howe. In a nighttime raid, after killing one man, they discover that they have killed their friend, a Croatoan Indian, not Wingina’s men after all. After killing Howe, Wingina’s men had retreated inland and Manteo’s people were scavenging in their village. 

Ten days later, on August 18th, Virginia Dare is born, granddaughter to John White and a few days later, another child, a Harvie, is born as well. 

The colonists need to sail for Chesapeak Bay because their food has been destroyed en route and supply ships will be arriving in the Chesapeak. Our old friend, Simon Fernandez, announces that he is stranding the colonists on Roanoke, that he will not take them further and he will not return them home. What better way to assure that the colony fails? All three trips, the 1584, the 1585-86 and now this venture have had their food destroyed in route. On this trip, the Indians are hostile and without much food themselves, and the supply ship will never look for them in Roanoke, but will instead search the Chesapeak. 

Finally, Fernandez says he will transport one person to England to seek resupply, full knowing that by the time he arrives in England it will be too late in the year to send a supply ship until in the late the following spring and the colonists will likely have perished by then of starvation or at the hands of the hostile Indians.

The colonists persuade White to return to England although he is reluctant. Fernandez puts him on the slowest boat which arrives weeks after the rest of the fleet, and not in England, but in Ireland. In the mean time, Stafford and Fernandez report to Raleigh that his colonists are in their “wished seate”. 

In October 1587, just as the ships arrive in England and John White is trying to arrange for the resupply of the colonists, the undeclared war between England and Spain escalates. The Queen with no British Navy conscripts all vessels regardless of their type, so fishing and merchant vessels are impressed into service and a moratorium is placed on shipping so that all vessels are in port and available to defend England against the anticipated attack of the Spanish Armada.

In March of 1588, Grenville, having obtained permission, is ready to leave on a rescue or resupply voyage when the rumors of Spain and the Pope’s alliance to attack England is combined with a lunar eclipse and an alleged earthquake at Glastonberry Abbey that reveals Merlin’s prophesy of the end of the world. Walsingham of course reports these events to Queen Elizabeth, strongly advising her to prepare for imminent war. She revokes the permission given for Grenville to leave, at Walsingham’s insistence.

A month later, White obtains the services of two small ships and 15 new colonists and prepares to leave. In May they are attacked by French pirates, robbed, their food stolen, but their lives spared. White is injured in the battle. They limp home, nearly starved. 

In July of 1588, the long anticipated and feared Spanish Armada inches up the English coastline in a frightening arc. Raleigh’s flagship attacks “thunderously and furiously” and he destroys the Armada with the help of heavy seas.

In 1588, the Spanish settled in Florida search for the English, not to rescue them, but to destroy the colony. They find the fort but it is deserted and they only find casks buried in the sand, which is how fresh water is collected and stored.

In March of 1589 Raleigh recruits 19 merchants to fund a new venture to Roanoke, but no trip is forthcoming. Scandal and slander haunt Raleigh.

In February of 1590, another Spanish scare in England brings shipping once again to a halt, but in March Elizabeth approves Raleigh’s request to send one ship to Roanoke. However, the only ship Raleigh can find is the pirate ship, the Hopewell, who is en route to the Caribbean under the guidance of the notorious pirate, John Watts. They agree to allow John White to join them, but he can only bring one chest, and they are going to privateer first. Given that this is his only option, White reluctantly agrees. 

As the summer wanes, White becomes frantic and petitions the captain daily to leave for Roanoke. White knows that they must leave the Outer Banks by mid-August as winter crossings have not yet been attempted.

On August 12th, the Hopewell arrives at the end of Croatoan Island in the midst of a hurricane. By the 15th they’ve inched their way to Hattorask Island, then Port Fernando, then they can see Roanoke Island itself. They see smoke, which White assumes is the colonists and he is jubilant, but it is probably just a natural fire. The ships set off artillery hoping to attract the attention of the Colonists, or Manteo’s tribe, but no one responds. Another fire is spotted in the opposite direction on Hattarask Island. They set out, find the location, but no people are there. 

On August 17th, anchored on the Outer Banks in very rough seas, they decide to try for Roanoke Island. Two smaller boats leave the larger ship, the first to hunt for fresh water. It returns to the main ship as White’s boat leaves. The second boat follows, but has waited too long and the seas are now too rough, “directly into the harbour so great a gale, the sea breaks extremely”. The Captain makes a mistake, leaves his mast up, and is swamped. Of the 15 men in his boat, 11 drown and 4 were rescued. Most sailors don’t know how to swim. The rest of the men watched in horror. White says he feels particularly badly, because one of the men who drown was not a sailor, but was Robert Coleman, family member of Thomas Coleman and his wife, colonists.

At this point, the superstitious sailors no longer want to go to Roanoke Island to look for the colonists, but White and Capt. Cocke persuade them. They arrive on Roanoke after dark, overshoot their destiny, then tromp around in the dark backtracking a quarter mile. They see a fire and head in that direction, finding nothing. They sing English songs, they chant, they do anything to attract the attention of the colonists. Finally, they sleep in their boats, awaiting morning when they find bare footprints in the sand, but no colonists. 

White finds the location of the fort where he left the colonists, but the village was removed. On a tree White found the letters CRO and further on, to the right of the entrance to the fort, he found the word CROATOAN carved. White had agreed with the colonists before he left that if they were to move, they should carve the location where they were going where he could find it. White says they were discussing moving “50 miles into the main”, although neither he nor anyone else tells us that location. This would adequately protect them from the Spanish who were seeking to destroy them. 

Furthermore, White made a secret pact with them that if they were distressed or in danger when they left, they were to carve a cross above the word. There were no crosses and furthermore, the village was not destroyed, but taken apart and moved, so there was no sign of a hurried departure or distress. The pinnace left for them was also gone, and only heavy useless items remained. White was overjoyed because he knew the colonists had moved to be among their friends the Croatoan, Manteo’s village. 

By this time, the weather was again worsening, and they returned to the Hopewell anchored on the Outer Banks. White says they were afraid their anchors and cables would not hold, and indeed they did not. 3 of 4 broke during the night, nearly wrecking the ship on the shoals. The men soundly refused to go to Roanoke Island again, or to Croatoan to look for the colonists. The men who would brave privateering would not brave Croatoan Island. 

White, being a smart man suggested that they go back to the West Indies for the winter and privateer, returning in the spring to Croatoan, a strategy which would allow them to return to the Outer Banks 60 days earlier than if they had to sail from England. The men quickly agreed, but Mother Nature had something else in mind. By now a full fledged hurricane, the ship was literally blown back to England, against the will of the crew. 

Raleigh’s fortunes were not improving in England. In February of 1592 he is charged with being an atheist. Worse yet, in July of 1592, Raleigh is rumored to be betrothed to Elizabeth Throckmartin, one of Elizabeth’s maid’s of honor. Enraged, Elizabeth throws the couple into the Tower of London. In October, Raleigh is released from the Tower but banned from court. Walsingham did not live to see this day, as he had died in 1590, although he surely would have thoroughly enjoyed this turn of events.

On February 4, 1593, John White writes one last letter to historian Richard Hakluyt detailing the 1590 rescue attempt. He says “Thus may you plainly perceive the success of my fifth and last voyage to Virginia which was no less unfortunately ended that forwardly begun, and as luckless to many, as sinister to myself. I leave off from prosecuting that whereunto I would to God my wealth were answerable to my will. This committing the relief of my discomfortable company the planters in Virginia to the merciful help of the Almighty, whom I most humbly beseech to help and comfort them, according to his most Holy will and their good desire, I take my leave from my house at Newtowne in Kyulmore the 4 of February 1593.” White is never heard from again. His letter is not published until 1600.

In the spring of 1594, 7 years after Ananias Dare left for Roanoke, his estate is probated, as he is presumed to be dead. Ananias had a son, John, from a previous marriage. 

Also in 1594, Florida Governor Gonalo Mendez de Cancio reports that two relief boats went to Roanoke with planters, clothing, supplies and tools. If this is indeed true, they too are lost.

In May of 1597, after 5 years, Raleigh is forgiven by the Queen and returns to court. However, the rumors were true, and indeed Raleigh and Elizabeth Throckmartin had married and Raleigh now has a young son. 

By 1602, 5 rescue attempts have been undertaken and Raleigh outfits a 6th. In May of 1603, two more expeditions are launched, for a total of 8, one to the Chesapeak and one that misses Hattorask Island completely.

In March of 1603 Queen Elizabeth dies and King James becomes King of England. James is the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth’s cousin whom she had executed when Mary threatened Elizabeth’s right to the throne. Mary Queen of Scots held the Scottish throne for James as he was underage at the time. Queen Elizabeth’s death with no heir reverted the crown to James. 

In July Raleigh is arrested for High Treason. He is subsequently convicted without evidence or witnesses and is eventually executed for his “crime”, but not until 1618 and only then after a failed 1617 expedition to South America during which his son was killed. 

In January of 1606, the London Company is formed by Chief Justice Popham, the man who convicted Raleigh and in April 1607, the London Company settles Jamestown with 115 colonists. 

Did the Colonists survive? They may have. Several tidbits of information exist that certainly indicate that they did, but there is no proof. Both historical and DNA research are ongoing. Please join our research and watch our progress at our website….. http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~molcgdrg/ 


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