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The Lost Roanoke Colony

Roanoke Colony

The first attempt to establish a permanent English settlement in the New World ended tragically with a sinister twist. Almost a century after Christopher Columbus set foot on the shores of America, an English adventurer decided to establish a colony in the name of Her Majesty Elizabeth.

Sir Walter Raleigh was an English poet, spy, explorer and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. Blinded by the lure of Sir Raleigh, the queen funded a number of his adventures. Several expeditions to America were made on behalf of and with the financial support of the young queen of England.


The expedition was sent in 1584 to explore the coast of America, and to find a suitable place to set up a colony. Leading the expedition were the brave Britons Philip Armades and Arthur Warlow who returned triumphantly to England, bringing a wide range of specimens of local flora and fauna (including potatoes ) and two natives. In honor of the queen, the surveyed land was named Virginia (the Queen was a virgin).

Inspired by the success of the expedition by Armades and Warlow and armed with permission to colonize, Sir Walter Raleigh prepared the first colonizing expedition. Composed entirely of men, the colony departed from England in April 1585 and was led by Sir Richard Grenville.

The experience proved to be disastrous for the prospective colonists. Most of the food supplies were lost when the boat that carried them crashed into a reef. First contact with the natives ended tragically. Britons accused a native of the village Aquakogok of stealing a silver cup, and as punishment for the offense, they completely destroyed their village, along with the chief.


The life of the first colonists hung in the balance. Pressed by constant conflicts with the local population and the lack of food supplies, the British were more than happy when, in April of the following year, the expedition of Sir Francis Drake passed by. All of the colonists accepted the invitation of Sir Drake to take them back to their native England with joy.

Only three years later, a second group of colonists led by John White was sent. This time, the settlers were not all men. A few months after the settlement was established, the first English baby in America was born. Despite the efforts of the new colonists - it was impossible to resolve the conflict between the locals and them.

Conquering America

Fearing an escalation of violence, sir White went back to England to seek help. The island kept 116 colonists - 115 men, a woman and a baby. They were residents of the Roanoke Colony (named in honor of Sir Raleigh).

When in 1590 John White returned, he found the settlement of the colony completely deserted. There are no traces of the colonizers. There were no signs of violence or assault. Only one sign attached to a wooden pillar with the inscription "Cro" remained. Neither Sir John nor the following expedition of 1602 managed to find traces of the missing colonists.

Over the centuries, many hypotheses and theories about the mysterious disappearance of the colonists were raised. Some say the colonists were simply killed by the natives, and their bodies buried.

Others believed that Spanish ships picked up the surviving Britons. Had they moved to a better place or found their deaths in the ocean in an attempt to leave Virginia? These questions will remain unanswered.