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Ralph Lane, 1530?-1603
Raleigh's First Roanoke Colony. An Account of the Particularities of the Imployments of the English Men Left in Virginia by Richard Greenevill under the Charge of Master Ralph Lane Generall of the Same, from the 17. of August 1585. until the 18. of June 1586. at Which Time They Departed the Countrey; Sent and Directed to Sir Walter Raleigh
Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, [1902].


Sir Ralph Lane, soldier and courtier, was born circa 1530 in Devonshire, England. Sir Walter Raleigh invited Lane to command an expedition to America, and he sailed on April 9, 1585 under Sir Richard Grenville. At the end of June, they arrived at Wococon, now Ocracoke Island, on the North Carolina Outer Banks. A colony was soon established, with Lane acting as governor. During the next eight months, the Roanoke colonists ran low on supplies, started arguing with each other, and began to have conflicts with the natives. In June 1586, Lane killed Wingina, a tribal chief, after learning of a tribal conspiracy to attack the colonists. On the following day, Sir Francis Drake arrived with supplies and men. Following a disastrous hurricane, Lane decided to return to England with Drake and most of the colonists. Lane lived most of the remainder of his life in Ireland, and never led another expedition. He died in October of 1603.

This work chronicles Sir Ralph Lane's experiences as the Roanoke colony's first governor. He writes about explorations of inland and coastal North Carolina, Virginia, and surrounding areas and describes both amiable and unpleasant interactions between the Native Americans and colonists. Lane also mentions some of America's natural resources, including crops, pearls, and minerals. He offers an account of the tribal conspiracy he prevented and explains the reasons for his decision to return to England. A brief note written by Edwin D. Mead follows the report, and praises Sir Walter Raleigh and his role in exploring and settling North America.

Work Consulted: Powell, William S., ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1996.

Monique Prince

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