The Lost Roanoke Colony

By | Jul 22, 2011

Jamestown, Virginia, which was established in 1607, was not the first English colony in America, but was the first successful one. In the later part of the 16th century, twice colonies were started in what is now Northern North Carolina.

Sir Walter Raleigh had received a charter to colonize North America with 10 years to establish a colony or lose his rights. In 1585 after exploring the region, he decided to place the first colony on Roanoke Island. This settlement had for its leader Sir Richard Grenville and later Ralph Lane, when Grenville returned to England for supplies. Grenville was delayed and all but 15 of the surviving members of the colony returned to England with Sir Francis Drake. Drake had just failed in his attempt to take over the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine.

In 1857, under the leadership of John White, another group of settlers attempted a settlement. On July 22, 1857, 121 colonists arrived on the coast of North America. They had hoped to meet up with the 15 men who had stayed behind. They did not find them and other than a report from one of the local native tribes, the Croatans, who said that 9 men left in a boat sailing north up the coast after being attacked, they were never found.

A few weeks later, on August 18, 1587, John White’s daughter Eleanor, who was married to Ananias Dare, gave birth to a daughter who they name Virginia. Virginia Dare was the first English child to be born in North America.

John White in November decided to return to England. He wished to get additional supplies for the colony as well as to bring back some reinforcements to help keep the natives from attacking the settlement.

This was also the period when England was at war with Spain and when White arrived back in England his ship was taken to assist in battle against the Spanish Armada. It took him over two years, returning to the colony in August of 1590. He found the colony abandoned with only the word “CROATOAN” carved in a tree. No one knows what happened to the colony or to the 115 people who were there.


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