Sir Walter Raleigh was born in England in the middle of the 16th century. He was the youngest of six. His family was Protestant, but the Queen of England, Mary I, was Catholic and persecuted Protestants by capturing them and even killing them.
Raleigh was a soldier when he grew up. He served with the French Huguenots, French Protestants, in the French Wars of Religion. He was given land as a reward for his service in another war, but he eventually lost the land because of his poor management.
Sir Walter Raleigh is best known for his plan to make a colony in the New World, what we know as America. The Virginia Colony was to be in what is today both Virginia and North Carolina.
He made several trips to the New World. His first voyage to Roanoke, North Carolina ended in disaster. It was 1585 and the settlers abandoned the colony because of trouble with natives.
Raleigh took a second larger group of settlers to Roanoke in 1587. He appointed John White as governor and returned to England for more supplies. However, there was war, and the Queen ordered all ships to remain at port to avoid the Spanish Armada. Sir Walter Raleigh was stuck in England for a year.
However, Raleigh didn’t go straight back to Roanoke. He had heard there were treasures to be found in Cuba. He went there. It took him three years to return to Roanoke.
When he returned to the colony, it was gone. The colonists were gone. They had just disappeared. It’s a mystery to this day. The only clue left was letters carved into a tree trunk, CROATOAN.
Some think they were killed by the Croatoan tribe. Others think they were taken in by them and allowed to live with them.
Later in life, back in England, he was thrown in jail for being rumored to have plotted against King James. He was released, but then he was killed. Why? The Spanish ambassador demanded he be put to death because his men attacked a Spanish outpost. He was beheaded on October 29, 1618.