From ‘goodliest and most pleasing territorie’ to abandoned settlement: what went wrong?

Early map of America. From Burton, The English Empire in America, 1739.

In September 1585, Ralph Lane, Governor of Roanoke in Virginia, wrote a letter to Richard Hakluyt describing the new settlement. He called it the ‘goodliest and most pleasing Territorie of the world.’ But only nine months after Lane wrote the letter, he and all his fellow settlers decided to leave America and return home to England.

Three more attempts to establish a settlement at Roanoke also failed. Indeed, it was not until 1607 when a colony was established at Jamestown that there was a permanent presence in America of English settlers.

What went wrong? Why did the Roanoke settlement fail? You can make your own mind up by looking at the documents and information in the following case studies: What problems did the settlers face? and Why did the settlement fail?

Let’s investigate!

Go to Case Study 1Go to Case Study 2