Roanoke Timeline

Captains and Ships of the 1585 Roanoke Expedition

1584 Roanoke Expedition

1584 Roanoke Expedition

Ships, Captains, and Personnel

50 ton ship + smaller pinnace

  • Others:
    • Simon Fernadez - master pilot (from Portugal)
    • Thomas Harriot - Scientist, Explorer
    • John White - painter, map-maker


    Find fastest and safest route to mid-Atlantic, make contact with Indians, find suitable location for a fort for next year's expedition


    Largely successful:
    • Friendly contacts and trading with natives
    • Reported that area was fertile
    • Thought Roanoke would be great base as the Outer Banks would protect it from Spanish ships
    • Brought back Manteo (Crotoan) and Wanchese (Secotan) to England

    Timeline of 1584 Roanoke Expedition

    • April 27, 1584 - 2 vessels left England
    • Early July - arrived Hatarask Island; Outer Banks (North Carolina coast)
    • Summer - interacted with Algonquian tribes - first hosted by Granganimeo's wife on Roanoke Skirmish with Indians on mainland
    • Mid August 1584 - left America, Manteo and Wanchese onboard
    • October 1584 - ship and pinnace returned to England
    • Winter 1584 - 1585 - raising support for venture from court and wealthy merchants in England
      • Harriot learning Algonquian language from Manteo and Wanchese

    Native American Tribes Near Roanoke in 1584

    Indian Tribes and Chiefs


    Tribes on and near the Outer Banks
    • Chowanocs - Chief Mennatonon
    • Weapemeocs - Chief Okisko
    • Secotans - Chief Wingina
      • Included Roanoke Island - under leadership of Granganimeo - brother of Wingina
    • Crotoan - Chief (name unknown, mother of Mante0)

    Other Tribes

    • Tuscaroras - further inland - fierce and enemies of the coastal tribes
    • Powhatans - north, around Chesapeake Bay
    • Iriquois (Pamlicos) - south of Outer Banks - enemies of Algonquians
    (Info on 1584 Expedition and Native Tribes from "A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke" Horn, James, 2010, Chapter 2: Roanoke)

    1585 Roanoke Expedition

    Captains and Ships of the 1585 Roanoke Expedition

    Ships and Captains and Personnel

    5 Ships
    2 Pinnaces (smaller ships that were pulled

    • Tiger - Captain Richard Grenville
      • owned by Queen Elizabeth I
      • Pilot: Simon Fernandez
    • Roebuck - Captain John Clark
    • Red Lion - Captain George Raymond
    • Elizabeth - Thomas Cavendish (captain and judicial officer for the expedition)
    • Dorothy - unknown (possibly Arthur Barlowe from earlier expedition?)
      • owned by Sir Walter Raleigh - the holder of the North America patent
      Other Personnel:
      • Colonel Ralph Lane - Military commander of the soldiers
      • Philip Amadas - Admiral of the Colony
      • Frances Brook - Treasurer
      • Thomas Harriot - Scientist, Explorer
      • John White - painter, map-maker

      Objective of the Expedition

      Establish a fort and base for a colony on Roanoke Island:
      The men sent over were soldiers and explorers on a temporary assignment (ie: one or two years) who would establish the first English colony in America. They would begin building a fort, establishing crops so the colony could support itself, make friends with the native population, and create a sea-port where English ships could stop for repairs and supplies.


      Their objective failed: They also discovered Roanoke was too small and the shore too shallow for a colony.
      • Made some friendly contact with natives, but incensed more by attacking them.
      • Discovered the Chesapeake Bay which they decided would be a better location for a colony.
      • Deserted the fort ten months after arrival, leaving a small handful of people surrounded by angry natives.

      Dates and Timeline of 1585 Roanoke Expedition

      • April 9, 1585 - 5 Ships and 2 pinnaces left England* note below
      • May 11, 1585 - Tiger reached Puerto Rico - built a new pinnace (theirs was sunk)
      • June 23, 1585 - Tiger reached Outer Banks - ran aground, destroying food supply
      • July 6, 1585 (approximately) reunited with other ships, went to Roanoke Island
      • July 11- 27, 1585 - Grenville expedition to mainland
        • Pomeioc Village (White painting)
        • Aquascogoc Village (cup missing)
        • Secotan Village (White painting)
        • July 16 - returned and burnt the Aquascogac Village
      • August 3 - Amadas led expedition to mainland
      • August 5 - September 8, 585 - ships depart Roanoke
        • Aug 5 - Dorothy departs
        • Aug 25 - Tiger departs with Grenville, leaving Lane in charge of colony. Enroute back to England they capture the Santa Maria de San Vincente which is the only income Walter Raleigh obtains from the venture.
        • Sept 8 - Roebuck leaves
        • All ships back in England by November with favorable report to Raleigh and Queen
      • May 1586 - Philip II of Spain begins seizing English ships in port
      • May 31-June 1, 1586 Battle with Secotan tribe
        • June 1 - Wingina killed
      • June 11-18, 1586 Drake at Roanoke
        • June 11 - Drake meets Lane
        • June 13 to June 16 - severe hurricane
        • June 18 - entire crew leaves Roanoke, Manteo and Towaye go with them to England
      • June 20, 1586 Supply ship that was prepared to go to Roanoke gets sent to Newfoundland to warn of war.
      • Mid July to August? - Grenville arrives in Roanoke to resupply the fort and finds everyone gone. Leaves 15 soldiers to man the fort and leaves.
      • July 28, 1586 - Bonadventure arrives in England with Drake, Lane, and White onboard
      • December 1586 - Grenville returns to England and reports leaving 15 soldiers at fort.

      *Voyage TO Roanoke - Summer 1585

      While five ships and two pinnaces departed together, they did not travel together. They were separated by storm, attacked at sea, captured Spanish ships, and at least one pinnace was sunk. It was an eventful trip, each ship with different adventures and timelines. They reconnected at the Outerbanks in July per the timeline above. (Information on 1585 expedition is from "Set Fair for Roanoke" by David Beers Quinn, 1984, Chapter 5, pg 55-56 ships and captains Chapter 6

      The 1587 Settlement

      Ships, Captains, and Others

      Captains and Ships of the 1585 Roanoke Expedition

      Ship, Flyboat, and Pinnace

      • Lion - Captain John White; Pilot Simon Fernandes
      • Flyboat (merchant vessel) - Captain Edward Spicer
      • Pinnace - Captain Edward Stafford


      Establish an English-speaking, agricultural-community on the Chesapeake Bay

      • The colony was to be self-supportive (settlers called "planters")
      • Intended to live in harmony with natives as neighbors
      • Establish the City of Raleigh
      • Sir Walter Raleigh continued to hold the patent
      • Chesapeake Bay to eventually become an English port for military and commercial purposes


      The colony was deserted at Roanoke and not taken to the Chesapeake Bay as originally intended, in what was probably intentional sabotage of the settlement. Their governor returned to England to get help, and the settlers were never seen again.

      Timeline of 1587 Roanoke Settlement

      • Jan 7, 1587 - grant for the settlement and coat of arms for leaders given
      • April 26, 1587 - lefte port
      • May 8, 1587 - sailed away from English Channel (suspiciously long time to get through the channel)
      • July 22, 1587 - Lion reaches Hatorask Island
      • July 25, 1587 - Flyboat arrived
      • July 28, 1587 - George Howe killed
      • Aug 8, 1587 - Settlers attacked Dasemunkepeiuc and accidentally kill Crotoan Indians stealing from the Secotan village
      • Aug 13, 1587 - Manteo christened and made Lord of Roanoke (Queen's representative in the area)
      • Aug 18, 1587 - Baby girl Virginia, born to Aninias and Eleanor Dare (White's daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter)
      • August 25, 1587 - Planters wrote their decree stating White is returning at their request
      • Aug 26? 1587 - Baby born to Dyonis and Margery Harvie (exact date, sex, and name uncertain)*
      • August 27, 1587 Ships departed Roanoke to return to England (White on flyboat, not the Lion)
      • Oct 16, 1587 - White and the flyboat landed in Ireland with most sailors ill or injured
      • Nov 8, 1587 - White reached Southampton, England to find that Fernandes and the Lion arrived earlier
      • *White listed "Virginia Dare and Harvie" at the bottom of the list of planters. Possibly the Harvie baby was born after Virginia's baptism on Aug 24 and was not yet named. Alternatively, the baby was expected soon after his departure.

      False Starts and an Insufficient Search

      1588 & 1589

      • Oct 9, 1587 - Royal Orders: No Ships to leave British Ports
      • March 1588 - Grenville gathered 5 ships and a few small vessels for a Roanoke mission
        • March 31 - Grenville ordered to send ships to Plymouth, England for defense against Armada
      • April 1588 - Brave a small ship, and a pinnace set for Roanoke
        • Captains Facy and Diaz who are more interested in capturing prizes than supporting the colonists
        • White was on board, carrying letter of support from Raleigh
        • Left April 22, 1588
        • May 5, 1588 - attacked by a French ship (23 killed, White wounded in three places)
        • Diaz captured and went with Frace
        • May 22, 1588 - Brave and White returned to England
      • June 1588 - Spanish ship searcheed the Chesapeake and Outerbanks looking for English settlement
        • noted "debris indicating a considerable number of people had been there" at a boatyard in a small cove
        • Quinn, pg 308, (quoting Lewis and Loomie, The Spanish Jesuit Mission to Virginina 1570-1572, Chapel Hill, Un of NC Press, 1953, page 200)
      • July to August 1588 - Spanish Armada
      • March 7, 1589 - New Roanoke Charter
        • New charter for Roanoke from Queen Elizabeth to Raleigh
        • names White as governor again and ten assistants (includes 7 of the assistants left in Roanoke, Nichols again named as one of the assistants who continued to stay in England, a new assistant remaining in England named Humfray Dimmocke. Excluded Howe who was killed in Roanoke 7/28/1557, two assistants remaining in England who may have died, and Simon Fernandez who was disgraced.)
        • Source: Quinn pg 311, 312
        • Raleigh assuming the planters are alive so his 1584 - 1591 patent would be valid

      1590 Search & Strange Discovery

      John White's 4th & Final Journey


      While it was White's goal to find his colony and resupply them with provisions and more settlers, the consort he sailed with were more interested in capturing Spanish ships.


      White was thwarted in multiple ways, including not being allowed to bring supplies or colonists, delays in reaching America while the ships were fighting for Spanish goods, not finding the colonists, and bad weather. His one afternoon on Roanoke revealed the fort was abandoned, the words "Cro" and "Crotoan" indicated he should look for them on the island of Crotoan, and the trunk of his personal belongings were located and ruined. While he desired to go to Crotoan, bad weather came up and the ships departed the American coast.


      • February 1590 - White and additional settlers planned voyage to America
      • March 20, 1590 - Hopewell departed with only White onboard
        • Captain: Abraham Cocke
        • Last minute Cocke would only allow White onboard, no other settlers or supplies
      • March to July 1590 - A voyage to capture Spanish ships
        • 5 ships, including the Hopewell sailed in intermittent consort across the Atlantic (starting out and meeting up at various times)
        • Little John with Captain Christopher Newport
        • John Evangelista with Captain William Lane
        • Moonlight with Captain John Spicer - was supposed to have supplies for Roanoke colonists (departed England in May)
        • Conclude with Captain Joseph Harris - whose owners sued (and lost) the other ships owners over the cargo seized (departed England in May)
        • There was a criss-cross of meetings and separations of these five ships. See Quinn Chapter 19 for details.
        • They did capture multiply ships, as well as sink ships.
        • Captain Christopher Newport lost his right arm in one of the battles.
      • August 1590 - Hopewell and Moonlight go to Roanoke
        • August 15 pm - Anchor near Hatarask Island on Outer Banks - see light on island
        • August 16 - Explore Hatarask Island looking for light (natural cause) - return to ship
        • August 17
          • One of the two longboats overturns due to bad weather
          • 7 of the Moonlight crew, including Captain Spicer, are drowned landing on Roanoke
          • At the fort, palisade walls built, houses torn down, chests buried in embankment ruined
          • "CRO" carved on tree and "Crotoan" on post found.
          • Planned to go to Crotoan to find the settlers
          • Abandoned plans when hurricane winds developed
          • White and Cooke agreed to plan to winter in West Indies and return in Spring
          • Moonlight - new captain wanted to return immediately to England as ship was in poor shape
          • Plan not followed by either ship
      • October 17, 1590 - Hopewell with White onboard arrived in Plymouth, England

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