The Lost Colony of Roanoke

A study of the origin and history of Roanoke Island, the first English attempt at an American colony.

Roanoke Island is situated just off the coast of present day North Carolina and the history of its colonization began with England’s increasing desire to lay claim to its share of the New World during the late 1570’s. The seriousness of this interest became apparent when, in the same decade, Queen Elizabeth issued charters which actively encouraged the exploration and colonization of new lands. A discussion of the early days of settlement and the interaction between the colonists and Indians. Also, a discussion of the island’s history is included as well as an attempt to understand the mystery of Roanoke Island.
Roanoke Island, in the late sixteenth century was the scene of the first attempts of the English to establish a colony within America and, although the initial expeditions landed in 1584, it was not until 1587 that the first permanent colony was created. Under instructions from, and with the enthusiastic assistance of, Queen Elizabeth of England, Sir Walter Raleigh dispatched two ships from England on 27th April 1584, both well stocked with men and supplies, with the intention of exploring the North American coast to explore the idea of expanding the English empire across the ocean (Quinn, 1975). This initial wave of colonists landed on the North Carolina coast on 13th July, 1584, and set in motion a series of events which could have come straight out of a historical novel. Unfortunately these events were real and there was to be no happy ending, only a mystery, the answer to which remains as elusive today as it was over four hundred years ago.