book, The Colonists, Their Fortune and Probably Fate by David Beers
Quinn, he sums thing up ever so succinctly in the introduction.
Quoting David here:
have clear evidence that white settlers identified as having come from
Roanoke were living in the area between the Elizabeth River and what is
now Cape Henry in modern Virginia, during the 20 years after their
presumed departure from Roanoke Island. We have equally positive
evidence that colonists were killed by the Virginia Indian ruler
Powhatan shortly before Jamestown was founded. But not all North
Carolinians are prepared to accept this evidence because it is indirect
and occurs a few years, perhaps only 2 or 3 years, after the event.
searches - but not intensive enough, we might think - were made for
survivors of the colony in 1608, and 7 persons were heard of as having
escaped the killing and reached the Chowan tribe not far from the head
of Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. Held incommunicado by the
Indians there, they were lost sight of and finally forgotten by the
Virginia settlers. It can be conjectured with a degree of
probability that some of the colonists remained with the Europeanized
Indian Manteo on the Carolina Outer Banks near modern Cape Hatteras.
All trace of these people was lost, however, and their subsequent fate
is totally unknown, through speculation has suggested that they formed
an element in later Indian populations on the Carolina sounds.
assimilating the materials that survive on the Lost Colonists and their
fate, there are many gaps in our documentation. These must
be filled by working conjectures. Historians, especially of
earlier periods of history, have to make assumptions that blend the
materials at their disposal into a coherent story while carefully
admitting where they are and are not relying directly on documents,
which may be good or only imperfect evidence. Otherwise they could
not make any sense of their reconstruction of a often poorly documented
past. In what follows, assumptions have been made and conjecture
proposed that are the best that one historian can do with the materials
at his disposal. They do not lead to any dramatic conclusion
except that the great majority of the Lost Colonists, after nearly 20
years of life alongside or mingled with the Indians living to the south
of Chesapeake Bay, across the border from North Carolina in modern
Virginia, were wiped out by a massacre by the despotic ruler of the
Indian tribes of tidewater Virginia. Bur our knowledge leads thereafter
to strong indications if not proof, that 7 survivors remained in the
possession (as slaves?) of a chief who dominated the Chowan River and
possibly the lower reaches of the Roanoke River Valley around 1608.
There is also a probability that the younger men left on Roanoke Island
in 1587 did not rejoin the main body of settlers but lived instead with
the Croatoan (Hatteras) Indians of the Outer Banks.
are bound to be differences of opinion as to what weight should be given
each item of direct and indirect evidence. If new solutions are to be
found, they must rest either on new documents (the finding of which is
unlikely, if not impossible) or, most probably, on archaeological
discoveries. If the Lost Colonists lived some 20 years on a site, it is
suggested, was well inland near the present Elizabeth River in Virginia,
they are bound to have left traces that Powhatan is unlikely to have
destroyed completely. Such a discovery would be thrilling for all
North Carolinians and Virginians, but there is no assurance that it will
ever take place. Nevertheless, it is our best hope of solving what
appears to be the crucial element in the mystery of the Lost Colonists
and their fate."
Beers Quinn was an incredible historian and a prolific writer. He
penned many books not only about the Lost Colony, but about the
historical aspects of England and in a wider perspective, Europe, of
that timeframe that influenced the decisions surrounding Sir Walter
Raleigh's Lost Colony and other settlement attempts. This
timeframe could well be termed the "Voyages of Discovery".
Many of David's books were published through the Hakluyt Society in
everyone agrees with his opinions, but few dispute his documentation.
He is the most referenced historian of the modern Lost Colony period.
David passed away in 2002 at age 93.
spent the past three years sorting through various publications and
documents. Some are widely read, such as David Beers Quinn's
works, and others are unpublished or original documents. Andy
Powell has spent the past year retranslating and transcribing original
1590s documents with some surprises to share in upcoming months.
His research, now in book format, is now under consideration by several
organization, I feel it's important to be flexible and to always give
ourselves an opportunity to correct our course as new information and
opportunities become available. As a result of our ongoing
research and new opportunities, we have focused on three primary areas
for our upcoming year.
Croatoan (Hatteras Island) - The colonists told us where they went, in
the first person. They went to Croatoan. Of course, there is
speculation and some evidence, as David said, that they may not have
stayed at Croatoan, or perhaps not everyone went to Croatoan. But
the best evidence we have directly from the colonist themselves is that
they went to Croatoan. John White upon his return trip in 1590 did
not doubt that message and was preparing to go there to find the
colonists when Mother Nature interfered.
research focus this year will be on Croatoan, currently Hatteras Island.
This is the reason for forming the Hatteras Island DNA projects. If we
are going to find the colonists by using DNA evidence, the best place to
look is where they told us they were going. Baylus Brooks, who was
introduced in the last newsletter, as well as Dawn Taylor with the
Hatteras Island Genealogy Society are working with me on this exciting
facilitate this end, I am reconstructing the early families on the
island by various forms of documentation. If you descend from one
of the Hatteras Island families, please drop me a note and let me
include your information in the project.
English Records Research - When David Beers Quinn was writing and
researching, DNA was just being discovered and the information age was
not yet upon us. These two advances together have indeed changed
the face of what is possible. We need to find the colonists'
families in England. Several individuals have worked around the
edges of this challenge over the past few years and have made some
significant discoveries. Nelda was able to produce estate records
for John Dare from 1594 from her online research. However, English
records research is not like American research, and understanding how to
systematically research available records and how to obtain access to
nonpublished records is essential. It is too much for anyone to
handle as a secondary responsibility. As a companion project to
the Hatteras Island project, Nancy Frey has come on board as our English
Genealogist and has already begun focusing on doing a thorough records
search for each one of the prioritized colonist surnames in England.
We will provide that prioritized list later in the newsletter as well as
provide a proper introduction for Nancy. I'm extremely glad to
have her on board. I'm still amazed that more than 100 people can
remain so elusive in English records.
Archaeology.....yes indeed....I said archaeology. David was right.
Archaeology in combination with other historical, genealogical and DNA
research may well be the key to finding the colonists. May I have
a drum roll please!!! If you've been following the blog, you
already have caught wind of this turn of events. Several of us
have been participating in ongoing archaeological projects in which we
are attempting to discover the location of the colonists. I can't
say more, nor can I say where, but I can share a few photos with you.
an experience this was. We prepared for months. Our Anne
Poole coordinated most of the comings and goings and with George, did
much of the prep work. George Ray created the "gypsy
wagon" (under the tarp behind the group in the photo below) and
cooked outside for 2+ weeks to feed everyone. Anne is in the red
t-shirt and George is in the white shirt behind her left shoulder.