The primary purpose for the discovery of America was trade. England had sent merchant ships to North America before and found a vast land of resources, primarily fish. They then believed they could expand their trading routes with India by sailing further. This northwest passage would prove vital for the English in the worldwide competition with Spain.
Several attempts at colonization transpired in the late 1500s. Martin Frobisher, John Davis, and Humphrey Gilbert all made contact with North America, although none of these attempts grew into full colonization. Walter Raleigh was chartered to settle on the infamous Roanoke Island in 1585. As religious fervor increased, so did the need for chartered voyages. What ultimately transpired was several voyages sailing to the New World and the creation of colonies in America.