Map of the Carolina Coastline, Including the Sir Walter Raleigh's Roanoke Colony
Rare old color example, heightened with gold, of this early map of the area of Dare County, North Carolina, centered on the Roanoke Colony, site of the first ever English attempt to create a chartered English Colony in North America.
Other place names on the map include Weapemeoc, Pasquenoke, Dasamonquepeuc, Secotan, Hatorask, and Trinity Harbor.
In 1585, Governor John White, was part of a voyage from England to the Outer Banks of North Carolina under a plan of Sir Walter Raleigh to settle "Virginia." White was at Roanoke Island for about thirteen months before returning to England for more supplies. During this period he made a series of over seventy watercolor drawings of indigenous people, plants, and animals. The purpose of his drawings was to give those back home an accurate idea of the inhabitants and environment in the New World. The earliest images derived from White's original drawings were made in 1590, when Theodor De Bry made engravings from White's drawings to be printed in Thomas Hariot's account of the journey. Hariot, a mathematician, had also been part of the 1585 voyage.
Roanoke Colony & Sir Walter Raleigh
The Roanoke Colony grew from Elizabeth I's attempt to establish a permanent English Settlement in the New World. Originally financed and organized by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, it would be Sir Humphrey's half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, who would finally pursue the royal charter to create the colony through his delegates Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville, Raleigh's distant cousin. On March 25, 1584, Queen Elizabeth I granted Raleigh a charter to create a colony. This charter specified that Raleigh needed to establish a colony in North America, or lose his right to colonization.
On April 27, 1584, Raleigh dispatched an expedition to explore the eastern coast of North America. They arrived on Roanoke Island on July 4, and soon established relations with the local natives, the Secotans and Croatoans. Two Croatoans named Manteo and Wanchese were brought back to England and were able to describe the politics and geography of the area to Raleigh. Based on this information, Raleigh organized a second expedition, to be led by Sir Richard Grenville.
Returning with a fleet of 5 ships, Grenville ultimately left Ralph Lane and 107 men to establish a colony at the north end of Roanoke Island, promising to return in April 1586 with more men and fresh supplies. The group disembarked on August 17, 1585, and built a small fort on the island.
As April 1586 passed, there was no sign of Grenville's relief fleet. Meanwhile, in June, bad blood resulting from their destruction of the village spurred an attack on the fort by the local Native Americans, which the colonists were able to repel. Soon after the attack, Sir Francis Drake, on his way home from a successful raid in the Caribbean, stopped at the colony and offered to take the colonists back to England. Several accepted, including metallurgist Joachim Gans.
The relief fleet arrived shortly after Drake's departure with the colonists. Finding the colony abandoned, Grenville returned to England with the bulk of his force, leaving behind a small detachment both to maintain an English presence and to protect Raleigh's claim to Roanoke Island.
In 1587, Raleigh dispatched a new group of 115 colonists to establish a colony on Chesapeake Bay. They were led by John White, an artist and friend of Raleigh who had accompanied the previous expeditions to Roanoke. White was later appointed Governor and Raleigh named 12 assistants to aid in the settlement. They were ordered to travel to Roanoke to check on the settlers, but when they arrived on July 22, 1587, they found nothing except a skeleton that may have been the remains of one of the English garrison.
When they could find no one, the fleet's commander, Simon Fernandez, refused to let the colonists return to the ships, insisting they establish the new colony on Roanoke. White re-established relations with the Croatan and other local tribes, but those with whom Lane had fought previously refused to meet with him. Shortly thereafter, colonist George Howe was killed by a native while searching alone for crabs in Albemarle Sound.
Fearing for their lives, the colonists persuaded Governor White to return to England to explain the colony's desperate situation and ask for help. Left behind were about 115 colonists - the remaining men and women who had made the Atlantic crossing plus White's newly born granddaughter Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas, for whom Dare County, North Carolina, is named.
White sailed for England in late 1587. Plans for a relief fleet were delayed first by the captain's refusal to return during the winter, and then the attack on England by the Spanish Armada and the subsequent Anglo-Spanish War. Every able English ship joined the fight, leaving White without a means to return to Roanoke. At the time, in the spring of 1588, White managed to hire two small vessels and sailed for Roanoke, but his attempt to return was thwarted when the captains of the ships attempted to capture several Spanish ships on the outward-bound voyage (in order to improve their profits). They themselves were captured and their cargo seized. With nothing left to deliver to the colonists, the ships returned to England.
Because of the continuing war with Spain, White was unable to attempt a return for an additional three years. He finally gained passage on a privateering expedition that agreed to stop off at Roanoke on the way back from the Caribbean. White landed on August 18, 1590, on his granddaughter's third birthday, but found the settlement deserted. His men could not find any trace of the 90 men, 17 women, and 11 children, nor was there any sign of a struggle or battle.
The only clue was the word "CROATOAN" carved into a post of the fence around the village. All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled, which meant their departure had not been hurried. Before he had left the colony, White instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating their absence had been forced. As there was no cross, White took this to mean they had moved to Croatoan Island (now known as Hatteras Island), but he was unable to conduct a search. A massive storm was forming and his men refused to go any farther.
Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.
As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood was threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.
In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focus on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.