1521 - Francisco de Gordillo, from Spain, landed off the coast of today’s South

1525 - Portuguese ship pilot named Estevan Gomez landed on the east coast
of Canada, north of Maine.

1526 - A justice of the Spanish supreme court named Allyon conducted an
expedition from Florida up the eastern seaboard of the United States.  What
later became known as Jamestown, Virginia, he tried to establish a colony. 
Fever and attacks by natives weakened the colonists and they gave up trying.
      The exploits of these three explorers enabled Spain to claim the entire
eastern seaboard of what now is the United States.

1528 - Panfilo de Navarez and eighty others reached present day Texas.

1538 - Spanish reached the Pacific Ocean in California.
      Hernando de Soto discovered, explored, and made expeditions up the
Mississippi river.

1540 - Francisco de Coronado and 300 others with him covered territory that
is now Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Kansas.

1552 - Walter Raleigh was born this year in the English county of Devon.

1556 - Spain claimed the land all the way from the Strait of Magellan at the tip
of South America, north to central Mexico, and all land of the present day
United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.  The English were upset,
because Spain and England were old enemies.

1577 - Walter Raleigh fought against the Spanish in the Netherlands.  Since he
did well in battle, and since he had a “personal charm”, he became a favorite of
Queen Elizabeth.

1580s - Spain was under the rule of Catholic King Philip.  Protestants were
persecuted and tortured.  England was under Protestant Queen Elizabeth’s
rule. Catholics were persecuted and tortured there.
      Spain’s navy was the strongest in the world at this time.

1584 - The Queen knighted Walter Raleigh, making him Sir Walter Raleigh.  Not
long after that, she granted him the right to explore, claim, and exploit the
natural resources of the New World.
      Sir Walter Raleigh became a colonizer of North America.  He was already
a poet, politician, writer, and privateer (or pirate).  He began an exploratory
expedition in the spring of 1584.  He and his travelers landed off the coast of
present-day North Carolina.


1585 - The Queen started to lose interest in Raleigh’s efforts and plans.  So, in
April of 1585, only seven ships left England, bound for Virginia’s Outer Banks,
which were islands that ran along the coast.  
      The expedition was held by Sir Richard Grenville, a navy man and cousin
of Raleigh.  Ralph Lane, who was also a favorite of Queen Elizabeth and
excellent at fort making, was going to be governor of the colony once they
arrived in Virginia.  Simao Fernandes was in charge of piloting the principal
ship of the expedition.  John White, an artist and mapmaker, went along, too. 
      The ships met a small storm off the coast of Portugal.  A smaller ship
sunk; and Fernandes, Grenville, and Lane didn’t know if it did or not, since
there were no means of communication.  Eventually, the surviving ships met at
Puerto Rico (this is where they decided to meet in case they got separated). 
      Since they didn’t know how long they were going to stay in Spanish
territory, Lane built a fort, and inside, they built a replacement ship for the
one that had been lost in the storm.  Grenville’s group bumped into a small
Spanish force, but outnumbered it.  The Spanish weren’t going to be a threat
as long as English reinforcements arrived soon.  After about three weeks, all
but one of the missing ships were reunited, and on May 19, 1585, the English
burnt down their fort and left the island.  They crossed through more Spanish
territory and saw the perfect opportunity for privateering.
      Finally, they reached an area right off the coast of Virginia.  A search
party including Grenville and Lane took a small ship (a pinnace) to look for a
suitable place to establish their colony.  They passed through a lot of native
villages where they were welcomed.  At one village, Aquascogoc, the English
were being entertained when one of their silver cups turned up missing. 
Grenville ordered that the cup be returned by the time he and his search party
got back.  It was not returned.  Grenville ordered that the town and the crops
be burnt down.  The natives had learned two things:  That the English
intended to dominate the area, and that the English were not their friends.
      After the encounter at Aquascogoc, the entire English fleet moved up
the coast.  A long-time friend of theirs, Granganimeo, (a native who hadn’t yet
heard of the attack on Aquascogoc) offered the English a part of the island
Roanoke as a site for their colony.  Grenville and Lane liked it after an
inspection, and they began to unload all of their supplies off their ships.  Then
they realized they had to get more supplies from England.  So, Grenville left
one hundred and eight men to begin the colony.  This was a very insufficient
      In August of 1585, Grenville left with the rest of his fleet except for one
small ship.  He promised to return by the next Easter.  Lane and the other one
hundred and seven men built a small fort and dormitory-style huts in the area
between the fort and the nearby native village.  Everything was well hidden
from the Spanish.  Since the colonists were soldiers, and not farmers, no one
made preparations for the winter.  They all relied on the seemingly endless
goodwill of the natives.  This was a cause of tension between the natives and
the colonists after the colony’s food was quickly consumed.  The natives way
of eating was growing crops in the growing season - but not storing the
excess crops - and eating animals and shellfish during the winter.  The
colonists were not used to this.
      Often, when the English would visit a native community, the natives
would later come down with an illness.  This made the natives think that the
white people were of divine origin.  The natives respected the English, but
hostility was mixed in, too.

1585 - When Lane and his colonists wanted to go exploring for gold, the chief
of the Croatoan tribe, Chief Wingina pretended to be as helpful as always.  He
provided his usual guides, too.  But, he secretly sent ahead messengers to
warn the natives along the river that the white visitors were not friendly, and
they meant to take their food - which was very little - since it was the end of
      Lane and his group only took a little bit of food with them, figuring that
the neighboring villages would supply them.  Lane found no food as he sailed
up the river.  Chief Wingina told the colonists back at Roanoke that the other
Englishmen died of starvation, as he had figured they had.  He tried to
convince his people to stop supplying the white people with food so that they
would die of starvation, too.
      Lane and his crew were one hundred and fifty miles away when they ran
out of food.  As they sailed along in their boats, the natives from the shores
started to shoot arrows at the intruders.  The English were not hurt by the
arrows, and their gunfire scared the natives away.  That night, guard dogs
secured the safety of the English from the natives.  The next morning, the
starving travelers ate the dogs.  Lane and his followers then returned to the
      By now, Lane figured that Wingina had tricked them.  The Chief had
moved his village inland, and stopped supplies to the colonists.  A captured
native told the English that Wingina had planned to kill Lane, John White, and
the other leaders of the colony by setting their huts on fire and then beating
them to death when they came out, confused and sleepy.
      So, Lane decided to attack first.  They went to Wingina’s inland camp
and fired on the natives, killing many.  Wingina pretended to be shot, but then
jumped up and ran into the woods.  Edward Nugent, Lane’s personal servant,
shot Wingina from behind and chased after him.  Nugent later came out with
Wingina’s head in his hands.
      From now on, relations between the colonists and the natives could
never be the way they were.  The trust was gone.
	Meanwhile, another successful privateer was in Spanish territory in the
Caribbean enjoying a lot of success.  Sir Francis Drake realized that there were
benefits of having an English colony on the east coast of North America.  He
heard of the colonists on Roanoke Island, and decided to pay them a visit and
offer his help if it was needed.
      When the colonists at Roanoke spotted Drake’s fleet, they weren’t sure if
it was English or Spanish.  They did not care if it was Spanish, though.  They
would rather have been captured by the Spaniards than to starve to death.
      Drake offered them ships and supplies to go back to England.  The
colonists turned them down, even though the future of the colony was bleak. 
Drake agreed, and left a couple of small ships, with supplies, at the shore for
the colonists.  
      There was a fierce storm three days long, and the ships were wrecked. 
The colonists rethought their decision, and took Drake up on his offer.  They
were demoralized by starvation and by war with the natives.  The lack of
communication and support by Raleigh and Grenville didn’t help them, either. 
The colonists decided to return to England.

1586 - Only a few days after they left, a supply ship arrived that was sent by
Raleigh.  Finding the colony deserted, they returned to England.  In the middle
of July, Grenville returned to the colony with thirty ships.  He questioned some
natives, and learned what basically happened to the colonists.  Even after this,
he didn’t want to give up the English claim, so he returned to England to
organize another attempt at colonizing the New World.


1587 - Another group of colonists were organized to go to for Roanoke Island
under the leadership of John White.  To make the colony feel more
comfortable, families were put on the list to make being in the New World feel
more like home.  The colonists also determined that Roanoke Island had
treacherous seas surrounding it.  So, they used what is now Chesapeake Bay
for their ships.  
      On January 7, 1587, a document was signed creating a governing body
in the colony.  John White was appointed as governor.
      There were assistants who were leaders, too.  Simao Fernandes, the
Portuguese pilot of Grenville’s expedition, and Ananias Dare, who was married
to John White’s daughter.  Another person who came over with them was the
native Manteo.  He was still friends with the English, even after the slaughter
at Aquascogoc.  
      On May 5, 1587, eighty-five men, seventeen women, and eleven children
boarded the ships heading for the New World.  There were fourteen families,
and two of the women, including Governor White’s daughter, were pregnant. 
This shows how these people intended to stay in the New World permanently.
      About a week after they set out, the two main ships were separated
from the smaller ship during a bad storm, right off the coast of Portugal.  The
pilot of that ship had never been to the New World, so they were worried that
he would not find the way.
      Conditions on the ships were bad.  Both were crowded, and during
storms, everyone crowded in the bottom, where cockroaches and rats crawled
all over them.
      When they arrived in the Caribbean, relations between White and
Fernandes were strained.  White wanted to stop at one of the smaller islands
to collect salt.  Fernandes refused, saying that one of the ships might become
damaged in the process.  Then, White wanted to stop at Puerto Rico to take
some fruit plants for transplanting at the colony.  Fernandes, again, refused to
      On July 22, 1587, the two ships arrived at Roanoke Island.  The original
plan was to stop at Roanoke Island and pick up the fifteen colonists left there
the previous summer by Grenville, then to continue onto Chesapeake Bay,
their new site.
      So, White and forty other colonists were dropped off at the island to get
the fifteen men.  Then, all of a sudden, they realized that the ships were
leaving.  Fernandes had ordered that the forty-one people be dropped off and
then that the ships leave for Chesapeake Bay.  The others would establish their
site at the Bay, since it would take weeks to unload the ships, and the cold
season was coming up.  Fernandes wanted to set sail back to England as soon
as possible.  He found that privateering was more profitable than colonization. 
So, he and the others raided Spanish ships on their way back to England after
leaving the remaining colonists at Chesapeake Bay.
      Meanwhile, White and his forty colonists had no choice but to settle
down.  They looked for the fifteen other men, but found no signs of any
except for bones of what looked like a slain man, probably killed by the
      White and the others started to rebuild Lane’s old fortress and buildings. 
They planned to move to Chesapeake Bay the next spring, just as scheduled.  
      They also built small homes for the families.  This all began the
establishment of the second attempt of colonization at Roanoke.
      Two days later, the third ship, thought to be lost at Portugal, landed on
Roanoke Island with needed supplies and settlers.
      Manteo, acting as an interpreter, tried to understand what happened to
Grenville’s fifteen men.  He spoke with natives; other than his own tribe, the
Croatoans; known as the Roanoacs.  He learned that the Croatoans had moved
to lands a few miles south after their encounters with the white people.  The
Roanoacs told Manteo that they had killed one intruder and chased away
fourteen others.  No one knew what happened to these men, so, technically,
they were the first lost colonists at Roanoke.  
      So, after hearing that Manteo had spoken with the natives peacefully, 
White’s colonists figured that they were in no danger.  So, George Howe, one
of White’s twelve assistants, went fishing alone.  The Roanoac natives saw him,
and killed the defenseless man.
      The colonists wanted no more hostilities.  White and a man named
Edward Stafford went along with Manteo to journey south to talk with the
Croatoans.  Manteo was a Croatoan.
      At the first meeting, the natives were scared of the white people and ran
off.  Manteo brought them back, and White promised them he had no
intention of taking their food.  He remembered what happened with Chief
Wingina.  The natives trusted them, and the old trust returned for a short
while.  White wanted to make sure that everyone knew he didn’t mean to hurt
anyone, so he asked the Croatoans to bring together all of the chiefs, so White
could speak with them.  The Croatoan chief agreed to do so in seven days.
      White was impatient, and after a week went by, he figured that
friendliness had not worked.  So, he planned to attack the Roanoacs to
demonstrate that the slaying of Howe would not be condoned.
      The plan was to send Captain Stafford, with Manteo serving as a guide,
across the water passage between the island and the mainland under cover of
darkness to launch a surprise attack on the Roanoac town of
      Their plan went as they expected, and they killed all the natives they
could that were in sight.  Those not killed fled into the nearby high reeds.
      In the middle of the attack, they heard one of the natives call out
Captain Stafford’s name.  It was a young mother with a child in a sling.  It
turned out that these were not the Roanoacs.  They were the Croatoans, who
had traveled north from their home to join John White for the meeting he had
called.  The Roanoacs had fled much earlier, fearing revenge by the English. 
Here, the Croatoans were gathering food left behind by the quick retreat of
the Roanoacs.  Manteo had unknowingly participated in the slaughtering of his
own people.
      Shortly afterwards, Queen Elizabeth titled Manteo “Lord of Roanoke”
because of his loyalty to the English.  	
      The Croatoans were generous enough to see the mistake, and forgave
the English.  Still, the full trust factor was gone.
      On August 18, a happy event shattered the tension.  The first English
child born in the New World was Virginia Dare.  She was named “Virginia” in
honor of that fact.  She was John White’s granddaughter.
      On August 27, 1587, White sailed in the smaller ship for England.  He
had to go back to England to secure additional supplies.  He traveled in the
smaller ship because he did not want to spend the two month journey with
      White was optimistic about the colony’s first winter.  He looked forward
to his returning in the spring.
      But White barely made it to England alive.  An accident at sea injured
twelve of his crew men, which made the ship hard to manage.  In October, the
ship was blown far off course.  The journey took longer than expected, and
food and water became scarce.  Finally, they landed off the coast of Ireland. 
White told Sir Walter Raleigh about the colony, and he was extremely happy
about its success.  They set off, collecting supplies for the journey back.
1588 - But the journey was postponed.  Tensions with the Spanish had been
increasing steadily during the time of England’s colonization efforts.  Then the
English got notice that the Spanish Armada was sailing to England.  This was
the huge Spanish fleet that took many years to construct.  Queen Elizabeth
ordered that all English ships discontinue their business and join the effort to
fight.  The survival of England was doubted.  Raleigh had to put aside his
concerns for the colony.  Queen Elizabeth ordered that he see that the English
coast was defended.  After all that had happened, it looked like John White
would arrive at the colony when he said he would.  Unfortunately, the captain
of the ship that White sailed on was interested in raiding ships twice the size
of his own.  They had to surrender their ships, and all of the supplies were
looted.  White returned to England again, barely alive.  
      Only a short while after he arrived in England, a great naval battle took
place.  The Spanish Armada was thought to be invincible.  The Spanish ships
were huge, with heavy guns.  The English ships were smaller with guns.  The
English ships were able to dart in and out of small areas.  So, England’s fleet
could rush in, shoot at their targets, and move out quickly without being
harmed.  Spain’s ships were much slower.  In the summer of 1588, the English
had won against the Spanish Armada.  If the outcome had been different,
North Americans might be speaking Spanish instead of English today.
      Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake played key parts in defeating
Spain’s fleet.  It seemed like they forgot about their colony on the other side
of the Atlantic Ocean.

1589 - Sir Walter Raleigh was still in England.  He was enjoying his wealth after
the defeat of the Spanish Armada, writing poetry, and courting his future wife. 
Later on, he started to raise the money for ships and supplies.  He had to buy
these on his own. 

1590 - Raleigh finally set sail in February.  Again, he was a privateer, and
stayed in the Caribbean looting ships for several weeks until August.  Then
they set out for Roanoke Island.  The only thing they found was the word
“Croatoan” etched into a tree.
      This brought up many questions and theories (see “theory” part of this
tour to read the possible theories that try to answer the whereabouts of the
colonists right after the disappearance).

1607 - In May, there was another colony being established.  This was the
Virginia Company, which was north of Roanoke in Jamestown.  A member of
that colony, George Percy, spotted a native boy with “yellow hair and white
skin”.  This might have meant that the Europeans had been assimilated into
the neighboring native tribe.


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