Monday, January 27, 2014

1587 - the Planters' Colony

After the failure of the first military colony, Sir Walter Raleigh is committed to a new project involving, this time, what was originally missing : farmers, wives and children. This new attempt called the Planter's Colony aims to be ambitious and wants to reach an irreversible milestone in the English settlement of Virginia. The fate will soon decide otherwise.

January 7, 1587 - the "Governors and Assistants of the Citie of Raleigh in Virginia" are incorporated. The 32 incorporators, mainly London merchants, grant John White and others privileges for planting a new colony in Virginia.

April 26, 1587 - The fleet of the new Raleigh expedition leaves Portsmouth to Plymouth. It makes, however, a stopover at Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.

May 8, 1587 -After a two-day stopover, the 3 ships leave Plymouth heading for Virginia.
The leadership of the new colony is less military than previously, its government being assigned to a syndicate made up of a governor and 12 assistants.

Thomas Harriot wrote in 1587 to account for Raleigh's liberality, that any man wishing to go to America was generously rewarded with at least a 500-acre land. Those who brought in money or assets were certainly receiving more. It emerges from the list of the would-be colonists that at least 10 farmers had their wives with them. Meanwhile, Ambrose Viccars and Arnold Archard took away, not only their spouses, but also a child each. All in all, there were 17 women and 9 children in the group who left Plymouth to Virginia.

The fleet consisted of three ships carrying 117 colonists and 33 crewmen. The flagship was the Lion, a 120-ton vessel commanded by new governor John White and master Simon Fernandes, upgraded Admiral of the fleet. The two other ships were a 20-ton flyboat captained by Edward Spicer and a pinnace under the command of Captain Edward Stafford. The continuity with the previous expeditions was strengthened by governor John White's assistants Simon Fernandes, Captain Edward Stafford , the Croatoan Indian Manteo, Darby Glande and others. 

From the start, bad weather fell on the fleet and the flyboat was soon lost sight in a storm off Portugal. As well as in 1585, the route passed along Puerto Rico. Darby Glande was left over there and told a few years later the Spanish authorities in St Augustine what had been the first Roanoke colony. The expedition followed the coast of Hispaniola off La Isabela where Grenville had, two years earlier, negotiated with the Spaniards for the supply of livestock and provisions, but the moment was not any more convenient to trade, due to the impending war between Spain and England.

June 22, 1587 -  the fleet casts anchor for 3 days at Santa Cruz Island (Virgin Isl.). The colonists are set on land.

The island proved not so hospitable as they thought. They were for many poisoned after eating fruit looking like green apples but the warning had no consequences. It was then the water that turned out tainted causing intense tummy-aches, others losing even sight up to 6 days. They found, at last, a good spring to make fresh water supply.

July 3, 1587 - The boats of the expedition follow the northern coast of Hispaniola (San Domingo) in search of the place planned to meet Alanson, a friend of Simon Fernandes who must provide them livestock and various commodities. Alanson remains however unseen.
July 5, 1587 - After two days of unsuccessful search, Governor John White decides to set sail to Virginia.

July 16, 1587 - The would-be settlers see in the distance what Simon Fernandes says to be Croatoan Island. They land at Wococon (present-day Ocracoke).

July 22, 1587 - the 2 first ships arrive at Hatoraske where they are supposed to make a short stopover. John White goes aboard the pinnnace with 40 sturdy settlers to Roanaoke where he has to get back the 15 men left for a year by Grenville before setting sail to Chesapeake Bay where the 'planters' should be landed.

Governor John White and his assistants went to the fort but it had been razed down. The harbor fitted out by Ralph Lane was also destroyed while most of the houses built by the first settlers were however still standing. The Grenville's men remained untraceable and only a skeleton was discovered near the abandoned village. It was obvious that they had all been killed by Indians.

The planters thought to sail towards Chesapeake Bay but, hurried to leave for a privateering campaign against Spanish ships, Admiral Simon Fernandes opposed to it and decided that the expedition would not go beyond Roanoke, claiming that summer having well progressed, the new colonists had to land there and restore houses.

July 22, 1587 - Missing since the Bay of Portugal, the flyboat reaches Roanoke to the dismay of Simon Fernandes.

Since leaving Plymouth, the behavior of Simon Fernandes asked a few questions about his real motives concerning the expedition. It seemed that he secretly wished  its failure. Nobody indeed knew the area better than him but he had strangely not stopped committing misjudgements or taking decisions clearly against the settlers' interests. It all started with the loss of the flyboat he had willfully abandoned during the storm. It had continued with the provisioning that could not be done at Hispaniola, then by the seek of salt on an island he said famous for it but where there was none. Finally, he had made a mistake next to the outerbanks, confusing Cape Fear and Croatoan, narrowly avoiding a wrecking. His arbitrary decision to land all the settlers at Roanoke while it was planned to establish the new settlement in Chesapeake Bay was on the most curious but being visibly disappointed to see the lost flyboat arriving safe at Roanoke was this time quite doubtful. Fernandes wished to see fail this colony, but why? He was an agent in the service of Sir Francis Walsingham and the latter having taken offence at Raleigh's progress with the queen, the defeat of the planters was perhaps a way to counteract. Would it be likely ? Fernandino was undoubtedly recommended for his sailing knowledge but his authority to impose somewhat unaccountably risky choices earned him Governor John White's resentments as much as his gratitude for his sailing skills.
It is clear, at least, that after this mishap, some break-up quarrel emerged between Sir Walter Raleigh and Fernandino and that the latter was no longer involved in any mission across the Atlantic Ocean. He had to disappear in 1590 off the Azores during an English fleet expedition under Martin Frobisher to intercept Spanish ships without knowing if he dies during the trip. Maybe he went quietly back to Portugal?

July 28, 1587 - George Howe, one of the governor's assistants is killed by Indians while fishing alone crabs, next to the village. His body is pierced with 16 arrows.

Since their arrival, the new settlers had soon realized that they were on hostile territory. Described as friendly 3 years earlier, the Indians had gradually learned to dislike newcomers and the killing of their leader Wingina had increased their resentment. The English were not welcomed any more, but their greedy and criminal behavior also had made them enemies to erase.

July 30, 1587 - Captain Stafford goes with Manteo and 20 men on Croatoan Island to investigate about George Howe's murder. They try to resume the dialog with the Indians in order to get information.

In his capacity to represent the Queen of England, Manteo fully assumed his interpreter's role with the Croatoan Natives to whom he formerly belonged and succeeded regaining their trust. Thus, he learned that George Howe was killed by worshippers of Wingina living in Dasamonquepeuc, well decided to avenge their leader's memory. They were also responsible for the death of the 15 men left by Richard Grenville. Fearing fightback, the Croatoans suggested to Captain Stafford to wear a distinctive sign in order to be recognized as friends in case of clashes. They begged however the settlers not to have to supply them with corn, suffering themselves from bad crops.

August 1, 1587 - The settlers ask the Croatoans to arrange a conference with the people of Secotan, Aquascogok and Pomeiooc to revive with them friendly feelings and forgive the past actions.
The Croatoan leaders promised to do what's necessary and to bring in the next seven days the answers of the different tribal chiefs.

August 8, 1587 - Lack of response from the Croatoans, Gov. John White and Captain Stafford, together with 2 dozens men, leave to surprise-attack the village of Dasamonquepeuc, well decided to burn it, but find it already deserted. They discover however Croatoan Indians come seize corn and fruit left behind.

Gov. White and his men were convinced to be confronted with the people of Dasamonquepeuc, scaring them away, and not hesitating to shoot them before realizing their misunderstanding. The inhabitants of the village had fled the day after George Howe's murder, leaving behind all their crops. Having learned it, the Croatoans had come at night to retrieve them but not wearing distinguishing signs, they had been targeted by the colonists, including women come with their child on the back.

August 13, 1587 - As provided by Raleigh's instructions, Manteo is christened and thanked for his many services by being knighted Lord of Roanoke and Dasamonquepeuc.

August 18, 1587 - Gov. White's daughter Eleonor (London, c. 1563), married to tiler Ananias Dare, gives birth to a girl. She is the first English child to be born in the New World.

August 20, 1587 - Eleonor Dare's daughter is christened and given the name of Virginia.

A few days later, Margerie, the wife of Dyonis Harvie gave birth to a boy. His name remained however unknown.

August 21, 1587 - The Lion and the flyboat are ready to leave for England but the storm sweeping the area forces Admiral of the fleet Simon Fernandes to cast off and put the boats to sea during the next 6 days.

August 27, 1587 - Urged by the settlers, Gov. John White leaves for England to seek supplies. It is not without bitterness that he abandons on Roanoke his daughter and grand-daughter Virginia.
The anchor of the flyboat was so deeply stuck in the rocks that despite attempts, the crew was unable to weigh it. Several men were hurt during the operation and it was decided to cut its rope.

It had been a month since the settlers had landed at Roanoke and their situation was really critical, some of them even wanting to go back to England. They were almost out of supplies and expected nothing from Indians who deliberately stayed away. They had to hope that John White could make a round trip before early winter, the survival of the colony depending of it 

October 16, 1587 - After a calamitous return, John White lands to Smewicke in Western Ireland.

Since his leaving, storms had followed one another diverting ceaselessly the boat of its route. Not having foods for a so long journey, several crewmen had died aboard of starvation or scurvy while Simon Fernandes showed less concerned with their fate than about Spanish vessels he could board.

November 8, 1587 - After a tempestuous repatriation, Gov. White lands to Southampton. Several losses are to be declared among the members of his crew.

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