The History of the Americans

The History of the Americans


Set Fair For Roanoke Part 3

October 08, 2021

It is July 1585. Sir Richard Grenville, in command of the first English expedition of colonization to reach the territory that is now the United States, has arrived at the Outer Banks of North Carolina with five ships, only two of which were part of his original fleet.  The flagship Tiger has run aground, and in the course of refloating her a large part of the expedition’s supplies had been lost. Thomas Cavendish commands the Elizabeth, which made it to a pre-planned rendezvous on the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico.  They have two small Spanish ships captured in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, and a new pinnace for shallow water exploration, built from scratch. Unbeknownst to Grenville and Cavendish, there are thirty Englishmen wandering around the barrier islands not far to the north, unceremoniously dumped there by George Raymond, captain of the Red Lion, who had blown off the colony to privateer between Newfoundland and the Azores. They also didn’t know, yet, that the Roebuck and the Dorothy, thought lost since a storm off the coast of Portugal, had found their own way and were anchored offshore not far to the north waiting for Grenville and Cavendish to show up.  And, finally, the most important thing they didn’t know was that the re-supply ships, under the command of Amias Preston and Bernard Drake -- no relation to Francis -- had been ordered by Elizabeth I to sail for Newfoundland instead of North Carolina, so that they could harass the economically important Spanish cod-fishing operation.

Now it was time to pay a visit to the chief of the Secotans, Wingina, whose portrait by John White is the featured image for this episode.

Selected references for this episode

James Horn, A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke

David Beers Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606