The Southern Colonies

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Who began the first English colony on Roanoke Island?

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Historians credit Sir Walter Raleigh as the founder of the first English colony on Roanoke Island.

According to historical records, two explorers (Arthur Barlowe and Phillip Amadas) initially set out to explore the coast near Cape Hatteras in 1584. Cape Hatteras consists of islands located just off the North Carolina mainland.

Because of the glowing reports from Amadas and Barlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh sent out ships to establish a colony on Roanoke Island (off the shores of North Carolina). Raleigh didn't make the trip, however. His cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, commanded the fleet of seven ships to Roanoke in April 1585.

After a series of harrowing incidents, Sir Richard Grenville finally led his coalition of colonists to Roanoke in July 1585. He left in August after Fort Raleigh was established on the island. Governor Ralph Lane stayed behind with about 100 colonists: they were to man Fort Raleigh through the winter.

Ralph Lane expected to see relief ships in the spring of 1586. However, he didn't see anyone until June, when Sir Francis Drake made a visit to the island.

Because of an unexpected hurricane, much of the new settlement was destroyed. By the end of June 1586, many colonists decided to return to England with Sir Francis Drake. For more information, please refer to the links below.

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