Sir Walter Raleigh, a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I Tudor, established three separate colonies at Roanoke Island, one of the islands of the Outer Banks off the North Carolina coast (then, Virginia). In 1587, the third and final settlement, with 120 men, women, and children, settled on Roanoke Island under the leadership of John White, the Governor of the colony.
Virginia, named for the Queen Elizabeth, was born on August 18, 1587—the first European Christian to be born in America. Her mother, Eleanor, was John White’s daughter. Her father was Ananias Dare, one of Governor White’s assistants.
Governor White returned with the ship to England for supplies. Due to England’s need for his ship to fight the Spanish Armada, White was unable to return until 1591. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants. He recorded his findings about the Lost Colony as follows:
“… as we entred up the sandy banke upon a tree, in the very browe thereof were curiously carved these faire Romane letters CRO: which letters presently we knew to signifie the place, where I should find the planters seated, according to a secret token agreed upon betweene them & me at my last departure from them, which was, that in any wayes they should not faile to write or carve on the trees or posts of the dores the name of the place where they should be seated; for at my comming away they were prepared to remove from Roanoak 50 miles into the maine. Therefore at my departure from them in Anno 1587 I willed them, that if they should happen to be distressed in any of those places, that then they should carve over the letters or name, an x, but we found no such signe of distresse.
“And having well considered of this, we passed toward the place where they were left in sundry houses, but we found the houses taken downe, and the place very strongly enclosed with a high palisado of great trees, with cortynes and flankers very Fort-like, and one of the chiefe trees or postes at the right side of the entrance had the barke taken off, and 5 foote from the ground in fayre Capitall letters was graven CROATOAN without any crosse or signe of distresse; this done, we entred into the palisado, where we found many barres of Iron, two pigges of Lead, foure yron fowlers, Iron sackershotte, and such like heavie things, throwen here and there, almost overgrowen with grasse and weedes. From thence wee went along by the water side, towards the poynt of the Creeke to see if we could find any of their botes or Pinnisse, but we could perceive no signe of them, nor any of the last Falkons and small Ordinance which were left with them, at my departure from them.”
Did the word “Crotoan” which was carved into one of the posts indicate the destination of the settlers who had abandoned the settlement or the identity of their murderers? Check out the site below for conjectures about the settlers’ fate.
Tomorrow: Blackbeard the Pirate Rita Bay