The Tudor Society

The Lost Colony – the Roanoke Colony

Baptism of Virginia Dare

Baptism of Virginia Dare

On this day in history, 18th August 1587, the first European Christian was born in the New World. Virginia Dare was the daughter of Ananias Dare and his wife, Eleanor, daughter of Governor John White. She was born in the Roanoke colony, in what is now North Carolina, just days after the arrival of the colonists on Roanoke Island. Virginia was baptised the following Sunday.

It is not known what happened to Virginia or the other colonists. Her grandfather, John White, returned to England for supplies at the end of 1587, and did not return to the colony until August 1590. He found no sign of his family or the other colonists; the colony was deserted. The only clue to their fate was a word carved into a post. White had instructed the colonists to leave a message if they had to leave the colony or were attacked. If they moved to a new place, they were to carve the location on a tree or post, and if they were attacked then they were to try and leave the Maltese cross symbol. There was no cross, just the word “Croatoan”, which White took to mean that they had moved to Croatoan Island. He was unable to search for them due to bad weather and he returned to England in October 1590. The colony became known as “the lost colony”, and their fate is still a mystery.

Recently thinking is that the settlers "were assimilated by neighbouring tribes" - see
Carolina's Lost Colony: The fate of the first British settlers in America was a mystery... until now

Picture: "Baptism of Virginia Dare," lithograph, William A. Crafts (1876), from Pioneers in the settlement of America: from Florida in 1510 to California in 1849, Published by Samuel Walker and Company.

There are 2 comments Go To Comment

  1. A

    Thanks for the mention of the ‘lost colony.’ I live in NC and there’s a play that is performed in Manteo about theLost Colony–it’s still a mystery! There is some evidence of blue-eyed Indians in the area, so that’s the assimilation theory comes in. THanks!

  2. R

    Had they all died and been killed where are their graves? If you die, you leave a body. What happened to the bodies?

    Couldn’t the colony simply have moved because of being in a place that wasn’t very good for long term survival?

    I think it is possible some people may have been abducted and assimilated into the local tribes, but not all. However, again, if people were killed, where are the graves? What about archaeology?

    All of the later colonies also had a hard time. James Town suffered from disease and hunger and cannibalism, not from the Indians attacking, but from their own desperate hunger. A recent discovery found bones of young girls cut up and the flesh removed and it was very disturbing. A facial reconstruction has been done of one young teenager aged 14. They also suffered from attacks from the native Americans. However, Jamestown lived on, a testament to the determination of humans to make it, against all the odds. Roanoke is still a mystery, but one that could be resolved with a full survey.

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The Lost Colony – the Roanoke Colony