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The Saga of Roanoke and the ‘Lost’ Colony


1584 - The First Voyage - Discovery of Roanoke


Roanoke Island Native AmericanOn April 27, 1584, Captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe left Plymouth to explore the North American coast for Sir Walter Raleigh. The party of explorers landed on July 13, 1584, on the North Carolina coast, just south of Roanoke Island, and took possession of the country for Queen Elizabeth. On the fourth day they were visited by Granganimeo, brother of Wingina, chief of the Roanoke Island Indians. After a short period of trading, Barlowe and seven others went by boat to Roanoke Island at the north end of which they found an Indian village, where the town of Manteo now stands. Two Indians, Wanchese and Manteo, were persuaded to return to England to meet Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth I.
 
1585-86 - The Second Voyage and Raleigh's First Colony

 The next spring, Raleigh sent another colony to Roanoke Island. The expedition, commanded by Raleigh's cousin, Sir Richard Grenville from Bideford, sailed on April 9, 1585. Included in the group of ship captains and colonists were Philip Amadas and Simon Ferdinando of the expedition of the previous year; Thomas Cavendish, destined to be the third circumnavigator of the globe; a scientist named Thomas Hariot; Grenville's half-brother, John Arundell, brother-in-law, John Stukeley; Commander Ralph Lane (who later declared Grenville as being “insufferable”), and an artist, John White who was set to become a pivotal player in the Roanoke Sagas. The two native Indians, Wanchese and Manteo, who had travelled to England the previous year also returned to America on this voyage.


They landed on an island south of Cape Hatteras, now known as Ocracoke, and spent some time exploring it and the other coastal islands and adjacent mainland. It was not until sometime later that Grenville moved to establish the colony on the North end of Roanoke Island. Ralph Lane was made Governor and quickly built a fort whose present day location is now believed to be submerged a few yards off-shore.

Drakes Releif

For the colonists, relations with the Indians continued friendly enough for a while but eventually deteriorated to the point where the Colonist’s lack of adaptation to the environment left them in a perilous state. By May 1586, the colonists having outworn their welcome with the Indians, were at open war with them.

The Colonists planned relief from Grenville was delayed in Bideford and had it not been for the timely arrival of Sir Francis Drake passing by with a fleet of 23 ships, mostly ‘borrowed’ from the Spanish and richly laden with booty, the Colonists might have perished. As it was Drake gave them all immediate return passage to England with his fleet. When Drake sailed, on June 18 1586 he carried the remnants of the first colony home with him.


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