• Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

    Fort Raleigh

    National Historic Site North Carolina

Roanoke Revisited Unit 5

The Lost Colony of 1587

Shortly after the abrupt exit of Ralegh's first colony, Mary Queen of Scots reared - and lost - her head, and conflicts with Spain escalated beyond hope of peaceful resolution. Undeterred, Ralegh sent a second colony to the New World. Less military in approach, the 1587 venture included men, women, and children. Led by Governor John White, the colonists departed from England on 8 May 1587. Instead of traveling to their intended destination on the Chesapeake Bay, however, they disembarked at Roanoke Island. Plagued with a shortage of food and supplies, and unable to coexist peaceably with the Native Americans, the colony experienced difficulty from the outset. On 27 August 1587, just thirty-seven days after the colonists' arrival on the Carolina coast, Governor John White left the settlement and returned to England for supplies. The outbreak of war with Spain thwarted his plans for prompt relief of the colony, and he did not return to Roanoke Island until 1590, at which time he found the settlement abandoned. Because of inclement weather and White's own lack of authority, his fellow voyagers aborted their search for the colonists and returned to England. White apparently never came back to the North Carolina coast, and the fate of his colony and the meaning of the message "Croatoan," which he found on a post at the settlement site, still remain shrouded in mystery.

The following links expand specific aspects of the 1587, 1588, and 1590 enterprises:

Did You Know?

Debry map of Virginia

The land west of the Atlantic coastline from Newfoundland to Florida was given the name Virginia by the English. The land was named for the newly discovered unspoiled land and Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen”.