Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Lost Colony of Roanoke

The Lost Colony of 1587 In the year 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh organized another colonial expedition consisting of 150 persons. Its truer colonizing character was evidenced by the significant facts that, unlike the expedition of 1585, this one included women and children, and the men were called "planters." Its government was also less military, since the direction of the enterprise in Virginia was to be in the hands of a syndicate of subpatentees--a governor and 12 assistants whom Raleigh incorporated as the "Governor and Assistants of the Citie of Ralegh in Virginia."

The new arrangement indicated that colonization was becoming less of a one-man venture and more of a corporate or business enterprise, anticipating in a certain degree the later English companies that were to found successful colonies in Virginia and New England. Exactly what inducements Raleigh offered to the planters are not known. His terms were probably liberal, however, because Hariot, writing in February 1587, paid tribute to Raleigh's generosity, saying that the least that he had granted had been 500 acres of land to each man willing to go to America. Those contributing money or supplies, as well as their person, probably stood to receive more. From the list of names that has come down to us, it would appear that at least 10 of the planters took their wives with them. Ambrose Viccars and Arnold Archard brought not only their wives but one child each, Ambrose Viccars and Thomas Archard. Altogether there were at least 17 women and 9 children in the group that arrived safely in Virginia.
In still another respect, this second colonial expedition seemed to anticipate the later Jamestown settlement. Raleigh had directed, in writing, that the fort and colony be established in the Chesapeake Bay area where a better port could be had and where conditions for settlement were considered to be more favorable.

The fleet, consisting of three ships, sailed from Plymouth for Virginia on May 8. Continuity with the previous expeditions was afforded in the persons of the Governor, John White, who was to make in all five trips to Virginia, Simon Ferdinando, Captain Stafford, Darby Glande, the Irishman, and perhaps others. The route, as in 1585, lay via "Moskito Bay" in Puerto Rico. Here Darby Glande was left behind, or escaped, and lived to testify regarding the first Roanoke Island colony before the Spanish authorities at St. Augustine some years later. The expedition sailed along the coast of Haiti, even passing by "Isabella" where Grenville had traded with the Spaniards for cattle and other necessities in 1585, but this time there was no trading, possibly because of the precarious relations between England and Spain, now on the eve of open war. Whatever the reason for this failure to take in supplies in Haiti, it constituted a certain handicap for the colony of 1587.

THE SECOND COLONY ESTABLISHED AT ROANOKE. The two leading ships of the expedition reached Hatoraske on July 22, 1587, and the third ship on July 25. Meanwhile, on the 22d, Governor White and a small group of planters had gone to Roanoke Island with the intention of conferring with the 15 men left there by Grenville the preceding year. On reaching the place where the men had been left, they found only the bones of one of them who had been killed by the Indians. There was no sign of the others.

The next day Governor White and his party "walked to the North end of the island, where Master Ralfe Lane had his forte, with sundry necessary and decent dwelling houses made by his men about it the yeere before." Here it was hoped some sign of Grenville's men would be discovered. They found the fort razed "but all the houses standing unhurt, saving that the neather rooms of them, and also of the forte, were overgrown with Melons of divers sortes, and Deere within them, feeding on those Melons." All hope of finding Grenville's men then vanished.
For reasons which are obscure, but perhaps because the season was late, it was decided to settle again at Roanoke Island rather than go on to the Chesapeake Bay country. Those houses found standing were repaired and "newe cottages" were built. The Indians proved to be more hostile than formerly, and George Howe, one of the assistants, was killed by the Indians soon after the landing. Through the intercession of the Indian Manteo, who had relatives on the barrier island of Croatoan, friendly relations with the Croatoan Indians were reestablished, but the others remained aloof.

The remnants of the Roanoke Island Indians dwelling at Dasamonquepeuc were accused by the Croatoan Indians of killing Grenville's men as well as George Howe. Hence, on August 8, Governor White, with Captain Stafford and 24 men, suddenly attacked the town of Dasamonquepeuc with fire and sword. It was a blunder. The Roanoke Indians had already fled. In their place were the friendly Croatoan Indians who had heard of the flight of the other Indians and had come over to take whatever corn and fruit might have been left behind. Thanks to Manteo, the Croatoan Indians forgave the Englishmen, or pretended to do so.

On August 13, complying with Raleigh's instructions, Manteo was christened and declared Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonquepeuc as a reward for his many services. Five days later, Governor White's daughter, Eleanor, wife of Ananias Dare, gave birth to a daughter, who was named Virginia because she was the first child of English parentage to be born in the New World. Another child was born to Dyonis and Margery Harvie shortly afterwards. On the 27th, Governor White, at the earnest entreaty of the "planters in Virginia," sailed homeward with the fleet to obtain supplies for the colony.

GOVERNOR WHITE'S RETURN TO ENGLAND. With Governor White's departure on the 27th, the history of events in the colony becomes a tragic mystery which one can only seek to explain. There had been talk of moving the colony 50 miles inland, and White had arranged for appropriate indications of their whereabouts if they removed from Roanoke Island before his return. However, White could not return as soon as expected because of the outbreak of war with Spain. The year 1588 was the Armada year. Sir Richard Grenville, who was preparing a new fleet to go to Virginia, was ordered to make his ships available to the English Navy for service against the Armada. Both Raleigh and Grenville were assigned tasks connected with the national defense and could give little thought to Virginian enterprises. At length, the Queen's Privy Council gave Grenville permission to use on the intended Virginian voyage two small ships not required for service against Spain. White sailed with these on April 28, but they were small, poorly equipped, and poorly provisioned. Partly because of these circumstances and perhaps partly because of their own folly in running after Spanish treasure ships, they were unable to reach Virginia in the war-torn sea. Thus, while Grenville's large warships contributed to the defeat of the Armada, the Roanoke Island colony was doomed for the lack of them.

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