Roanoke Revisited Unit 6
Links with Jamestown and New England
After John White's 1590 voyage to Roanoke Island, both he and Sir Walter Ralegh withdrew from planting colonies in the New World. White accepted the loss - but not the demise - of his colony, and retired to his Irish estate in Newtown, near Killmore. Ralegh concentrated on his Irish estates, rather than the more costly overseas settlements. Nevertheless he staunchly maintained, even after his conviction in 1603 on charges of treason and the consequent reversion of his patent to the Crown, that the 1587 colony had survived. Reports that at least some of the colonists were still alive continued to surface as late as 1610. That the Jamestown settlers tried to find the 1587 colonists is beyond doubt. Reports gathered by the Jamestown settlers plausibly suggest that some of the lost colonists coexisted or cohabited with the Indians living on the lower Chesapeake Bay - the stated destination of the 1587 voyage — until massacred by the powerful Powhatan Confederation in the early 1600s. A few escaped and were rumored to be living in captivity or servitude, always just out of the Jamestown settler' reach. Little evidence supports these reports, however.
Even though Ralegh and White were not directly involved with the new settlements in North Virginia (New England) and South Virginia (Virginia proper and mid-Atlantic), some other primary participants in the Roanoke ventures were. Richard Hakluyt and Sir Thomas Smythe, for example, were major promoters of and investors in the colonies at both Roanoke Island and Jamestown. Ralegh's nephews Sir John and Ralegh Gilbert were among the leaders of the Plymouth enterprise. And some of the lessons learned during the Roanoke era influenced English activities in eastern North America well into the next century.
This section links to standard texts described in the Bibliography of Books, Pamphlets, and Articles on the Roanoke Island Colonies that address the influence of the Roanoke colonies and the fate of the lost colony, and to works on the settlement of Virginia and New England.
Did You Know?
Before the 1587 colony of families, an English expedition of soldiers and explorers resided for nearly a year on Roanoke Island from 1585 to 1586. These men formed England’s first New World settlement, beginning a new chapter in the course of the world.