Why the Roanoke Colony is Known as “The Lost Colony”

One of the earliest mysteries in North American history is that of Roanoke Colony, better known as “The Lost Colony.” Roanoke Colony was established in the year of 1587 in what is in the state of North Carolina today. This venture was an attempt by the English Queen Elizabeth the First to establish a colony in the Americas, founded by one Sir Walter Raleigh.

After Sir Walter Raleigh and the colonists accompanying him arrived at the colony’s location, John White, a close friend of Raleigh’s, was chosen to become the governor of Roanoke Colony. Later in the year of 1587, the colonists persuaded John White to return to England for fresh supplies and to bring back help for the settlement. When he departed, he left behind 115 men and women, including his newborn granddaughter who was the first English child to be born in North America.

John White sailed for England, although during the time of his travels it was considered risky to cross the Atlantic Ocean. When he arrived in England, he was just in time for the attack of the Spanish Armada, and the Anglo-Spanish War that followed. Queen Elizabeth required the use of every available ship during this time, which made John White’s return to Roanoke Colony impossible for some time.

In 1588, John White was able to acquire two vessels that were small but able when it came to sailing across the ocean. He then began the trip to Roanoke Colony. However, the two ships were captured and their cargo seized before they could successfully make their way back to the Americas. With nothing left to deliver the colonists, the decision was made to direct the ships back to England.

Finally, John White was able to travel back to Roanoke Island, arriving at the site on what was his granddaughter Virginia’s third birthday. However, he was unprepared for the sight that awaited him. Roanoke Colony was completely deserted.

There was no trace of desertion, nor was there any evidence that the men, women, and children left behind had been attacked. All that was left behind was the word “Croatoan” that had been carved into a post that had made up the fence that surrounded the village. “CRO” had also been carved into a tree nearby. While there have been many theories as to what happened to Roanoke Colony, the mystery surrounding it has lead to its other name – The Lost Colony.