Sir Richard Grenville

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Sunlit earthwork with wayside exhibit
English earthwork, likely part of the 1585 expedition

National Park Service

Quick Facts

Significance:
Led the 1585 fleet of ships to Roanoke Island
Place of Birth:
Bideford, Devon, England
Date of Birth:
June 15, 1542
Place of Death:
Off the Azore Islands
Date of Death:
September 1591
Place of Burial:
Unknown

Soldier of fortune, sheriff, explorer, investor and privateer, Grenville, a cousin to Sir Walter Raleigh, was involved in Raleigh’s colonial ideals from the very beginning.

Commanding a fleet of seven ships in 1585, Grenville led the first English colonial expedition to America. After leaving the 115-man military colony under Ralph Lane on Roanoke Island, he would later return in 1586 to reinforce the colony, but finding that Lane’s expedition had been evacuated he deposited fifteen men to retain the land. Unfortunately these men were subsequently lost a month later.

Grenville died in 1591 in a naval battle against the Spanish in the Azores.