First Colony of Roanoke leaves England

April 9, 1585

Most of the men who arrived were gentlemen and soldiers. There were no farmers in the group and no women. "Historical documents indicate that there were men expert in fortification and that there were brickmakers, carpenters, and thatchers. Also the names of all of the colonists are known, if not their trades. Some were gentlemen, cousins of Raleigh and Grenville, as the names indicate. Hariot says that some were city dwellers "of a nice bringing up" who soon became miserable without their soft beds and dainty food. Others were excellent soldiers, as Lane testified of Captain Stafford; and there were the humbler folk, of whom Darby Glande was perhaps representative, though he was Irish and appears to have been forced to accompany the expedition. On the whole, they gave the appearance more of a military expedition than a colony. They were dependent upon the Indians and upon England for both food and supplies."

Anchors off of Cape Hatteras

July 1585

Indians swarm ship and steal a silver cup. Amadas (an Indian with the English) and 11 men are ordered to get the cup back. They burn down the crops and houses in the Indian village to teach them a lesson.

Grenville returns to England

September 1585

Grenville is sent back to England to get more supplies and food. Meanwhile, the new settlers explore Roanoke.

The colony is starving

April 1586

It is rumored that the Indians plan to starve the English out of the colony. Ralph Lane decides to take action. He leads a surprise attack on the local Indian village. They kill Wingina, a local Indian chief.

Drake stops by to offer help

June 1586

Sir Francis Drake stops by from his pirating escapades to offer help, supplies, and check in with the colony. He offers 250 slaves to help with work, as well as water, food and a boat in case they need to return to England. The day after his arrival, a hurricane tears through the area and the settlers decide to go back to England instead of sticking it out. They abandon the colony.

Grenville Returns

July 1586

Grenville returns to find a deserted colony. He leaves 15 men to "hold down the fort."

Second Voyage to Roanoke sabotaged from start?

April 26, 1587

Did Portuguese captain Simon Fernandez purposely sabotage the colonists? You decide...(1) Fernandez took "the golden highway" hoping to pirate Spanish ships along the way instead of going the most direct route to America. (2) He was supposed to meet ships along the way for supplies but he couldn't find the ship that was carrying the sheep they needed. They missed that pick up. (3) He missed the pickup of cattle, too. They would land with no cows. (4) The supply of salt that they were supposed to pick up? He couldn't find it. (5) When they were close to their destination, Fernandez was suddenly confused and almost ran the ship aground. Luckily someone else stepped in and helped steer the ship to safety. (6) Because of the route Fernandez took, and all the failed attempts to find supplies, they arrived too late in the season to plant before winter. (7) Fernandez refused to take them all the way to Chesapeake Bay. He dropped them in Roanoke instead.

Second Colony Arrives from England

July 22, 1587

Between 110-150 settlers arrive. This colony has women and children and is led by John White.

Indians kill one of the settlers

July 28, 1587

Six days after landing, an Englishman, Howe, is murdered by Indians while fishing. He was shot with 16 arrows and his head was beaten to bits. A nearby Indian tribe, the Croatoan, tell the Englishmen that Wingina's tribe killed the fisherman, as well as the other 15 men that were left behind by Grenville.

Croatoan and English form alliance

July 30, 1587

The Croatoan agree to form a friendship with the English but will not share food as they are already low on grain. They also ask the English to not kill any of their tribe, as in the past, English have killed them mistaking them for neighboring hostile tribes.

The English raid Indian village and kill Croatoans by mistake

August 8, 1587

The English raid Indian villages to avenge the death of the fisherman and kill Croatoans by mistake.

First English baby born in America

August 18, 1587

John White's daughter, Eleanor Dare, gives birth to Virginia Dare. She is the first English baby born on American soil.

John White leaves for supplies

August 22, 1587

John White goes back to England for more supplies. Before he leaves, he tells his daughter that if they have to move, she is to carve the location of where they are going into a tree. If they are in danger, she should add a cross to the message. As soon as he arrives in England, he is told he may not return since England is at war with Spain (Spanish Armada) and all ships are needed for the war.

Queen Elizabeth prepares for war with Spain

December 1587

Rescue mission? Nope

March 1588

Grenville was given two boats to go to Roanoke but at the last minute, the offer was revoked. White would have to wait.

Failed Rescue Attempt #2

April 1588

Two small ships are sent by Sir Walter Raleigh but they are more interested in chasing ships and pirating and White is wounded in the skirmishes. They return to England, never setting foot on American soil.

Armada docks at Calais and war starts

August 1588

John White returns to find abandoned colony

August 18, 1590

The war is finally over and White is given a ship to return to America. All that is left of Roanoke is the word "CRO" and "Croatoan" on trees in the colony. White is convinced that the colony moved to join the Croatoans. A storm, however, prevents them from heading north to search further. White will never return again.

Two more Rescue Missions Fail


Sir Walter Raleigh sends two more rescue missions to find the colonists. One lands in Cape Fear and one lands in Maine. Neither find Roanoke or the Croatan or the lost colony.

Rumors from Jamestown & Beyond


Captain John Smith from Jamestown searches for the lost colonists and asks local tribes if they heard of them. One, a Powhatan, said he heard the colonists had been massacred by his own tribe. Others said they knew of white men living with a nearby Indian tribe. Others said they knew of blonde haired and blue eyed Indians and slaves. Some talked of "beared" Indians--but Indians didn't have beards. Others talked of Indians who could read ("make books speak"). In 1937 a carved stone was found near Roanoke that is believed by some to have been carved by Eleanor Dare. The stone says that her husband and daughter and all but 7 of the colonists were killed by Indians and that the remaining settlers moved to live with the Croatoan.