Britannia Biographies: Sir Walter Raleigh Part 9

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Family Background
Youthful Experience
Irish Command
Queen's Favourite
Discovery of Virginia
Royal Servant
Ralph Lane's Colony
Courtly Rivalries
The Lost Colony
Fall from Grace
Wilderness Years
Search for El Dorado
Attack on Cadiz
Conflict with Essex
Out with the Old
In the Tower
Last Chance
Return to America

Biography of Sir Walter Raleigh by Christopher Smith
S I R      W A L T E R
 R A L E I G H
Part 9: The Lost Colony

John White's Map of Virginia and Florida

Raleigh was now determined to refound his lost colony, based, this time, on a civilian settlement rather than along military lines. In 1587, the Lion, commanded by Simon Fernandez, accompanied by a fly boat and a pinnace, sailed from Plymouth. Fernandez was to assist John White in founding the City of Raleigh under Mantio - a native American brought back on the first voyage and now a Christian - as Raleigh's representative. They were to make contact with the men they had previously left behind at Roanoke and set up a colony in the Chesapeake Bay area. Upon their eventual arrival, however, White and Fernandez were not on best terms and the situation was brought to a head when the latter stopped at Roanoke, but refused to take the settlers on to Chesapeake. White managed to contact Mantio's mother who told them that the remaining Englishmen had been killed by a rival tribe. White decided to attack these people but, in the event, only managed to succeed in killing a native ally during an attack on a misidentified village. He later tried to make amends, but was largely distracted by the birth of his grandaughter, five days afterward. She was the first English child born in America and was named Virginia for obvious reasons.

Fernandez did eventually return home, along with John White, whom the colonists insisted must inform Raleigh of their new unintended location. After a disastrous journey via the Azores and Ireland, they arrived back in Southampton. An immediate relief force was delayed by the Armada crisis but, with this prevented, one did leave with White amongst the passengers. Unfortunately, however, the captains were more interested in privateering than their mercy mission and, when they were attacked off La Rochelle, a wounded White was forced to return to England. It was not until 1590 that John White was finally able to return to Roanoke. He found the settlement abandoned and overgrown, though signs indicated that the majority of colonists had moved on to Chesapeake while others may have joined Mantio's people. Circumstances prevented White from verifying such supposition and he returned to England. The settlers may have survived until as late as 1607, when a popular theory has them being slaughtered along with the local natives in the Chesapeake Bay area by a warrior chieftain named Powhatan. Whatever the reality, Raleigh had lost 40,000.

Part 10: The Fall from Grace    Copyright ©1999, LLC