Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh : 1584

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Charter to Sir Walter Raleigh : 1584
Everybody remembers Jamestown, Capt. John Smith, Pocahontas and all the rest. But do you remember Roanoke? In 1585, after a small scouting expedition had returned from North America with two Native Americans and many astonishing stories, Sir Walter Raleigh tried to establish a colony called Roanoke in the land which the British named "Virginia", in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. The site was actually an island on North America's eastern seaboard protected by the outer banks of what is now North Carolina's coast. Sir Richard Grenville led the fleet that brought them to the New World, the Governor of the colony was Master Ralph Lane and among the colonists was Walter Raleigh's confidant Thomas Harriot, author of "A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia", a chronicle of their adventure. Sir Francis Drake, who was seeking Spanish conquests in the New World, rescued this group just as they were losing control of their situation. Another colony was left at Roanoke in 1587 but by 1590, when a long delayed supply ship finally arrived, they had disappeared without a trace. This was the so-called "Lost Colony". A baby was born in Roanoke at this time. Little Virginia Dare, was the granddaughter of John White, the appointed Governor of the "Lost Colony", and was probably the first English baby born in the New World. Sir Walter Raleigh sent ships to America to search for the colonists but they were unsuccessful. By the time the next English settlers arrived in North America to colonize Jamestown it was nearly twenty years later and, although several attempts were made to find out what happened to them, the fate of the "Lost Colony" was never fully explained.


(1607) Virginia [Homepage , Constitution]
( Roots-L Database , Instructions for the Virginia Colony (1606) , The First Virginia Charter (April 10, 1606) , Statehouse History , Jamestown History , Jamestown Rediscovery Project , History of Jamestown , First English Settlement , The Real Pocahontas , Jamestown,Va. , Jamestowne Society , Colonial Williamsburg Home Page , Virtual Jamestown )

Based on George Weymouth's accounts of voyages to the New England area in 1606, two private companies were formed to seek a patent for colonization on the Atlantic Coast. One of these companies was called the London Company and it was given the southern Virginia territory. The other company was called the Plymouth Company and its patent was for northern Virginia. Both companies quickly sought to exercise their patents but the London Company was the first to actually place colonists on the shore. In 1607, 105 London Company sponsored settlers arrived from England to begin the story that we all remember from our school days. Since they were there representing England and its King, James I, they settled in an encampment they called Jamestown on a river they named the James River.

The first year was devastating for the colonists, with only 32 colonists surviving the winter and only then because Native Americans living in the area came to their aid with food. After a supply ship arrived the next year they had additional provisions but many more colonists to feed as well. Once again, over the winter, most of the colonists died of starvation and from hostile encounters with their neighbors. As winter came to a close, ships arrived, and most of them were ready to leave. But as they were leaving, Lord Thomas de la Warr (Delaware is named after him) arrived from England with new supplies and more settlers. He refused to let the survivors return to England. Slowly, as they reached agreements with the local Native American tribes and they learned how to grow some of their own crops, the colony began to prosper.

Most of those original Jamestown settlers were after profit, mainly riches in the form of gold and other precious metals. They had not...
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