These half-piratical attempts against Spain led continually into American waters, till the notion of forming a permanent outpost here as base for such adventures suggested to Sir Humphrey Gilbert the plan, which he failed to realize, of founding an American settlement. Gilbert visited our shores in 1579, and again in 1583, but was lost on his return from the latter voyage.
In 1584 Sir Walter Raleigh sent two captains, Amidas and Barlow, to inspect the coast off what is now North Carolina. They reported so favorably that he began, next year, a colony on Roanoke Island. England was now a Protestant land, and no longer heeded Spanish claims to the transatlantic continent, save so far as actual settlements had been made.
Sir Richard Grenville commanded this expedition, but was to return on seeing the one hundred and eight colonists who accompanied him well established. Queen Elizabeth gave the name VIRGINIA to the new country.
Drake, tending homeward from one of his raids on the Spanish coast, in 1586, offered the settlers supplies, but finding them wholly discouraged, he carried them back to England.
Determined to plant an agricultural community, Raleigh next time, l587, sent men with their families. A daughter to one of these, named Dare, was the first child of English parents born in America. Becoming destitute, the colony despatched its governor home for supplies. He returned to find the settlement deserted, and no tidings as to the fate of the poor colonists have ever been heard from that day to our own. The Jamestown settlers mentioned in the next chapter found among their Indian neighbors a boy whose whitish complexion and wavy hair induced the interesting suspicion that he was descended from some one of these lost colonists of Roanoke.
Thus Sir Walter's enterprise had to be abandoned. In the 40,000 pounds spent upon it his means were exhausted. Besides, England was now at war with Spain, and the entire energies of the nation were in requisition for the overthrow of the Spanish Armada.
See also: 1577-1580