Roanoke: The Lost Colony
5TH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES
1. Students will become familiar with the details encompassing the
colonization of Roanoke.
2. Students will use critical thinking skills to investigate the facts and
hypothesize on validity of numerous theories concerning the fate of the
3. Students will use skills of persuasion in producing their theories
concerning this lesson.
Sir Walter Raleigh
• In 1584 Raleigh received a patent from
Queen Elizabeth I, to explore and
colonize the New World.
• Sir Raleigh sent two explorers to the
New World, and they were the first to
see Roanoke Island.
• The Queen was impressed by the
expedition to Roanoke and Raleigh
received a knighthood. The new land
was named Virginia.
• Future Raleigh expeditions ended in
Sir Walter Raleigh
1584 — Sir Walter Raleigh's men Captains Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe first land on
Roanoke Island and find it suitable for settlement.
1585 — 108 soldiers come to Roanoke to establish first colony.
1586 — Colonists and Native Americans at 'war,' and colony abandoned.
1587 — Second group of 117 colonists come to Roanoke.
August 18, 1587 — Birth of Virginia Dare, first English baby born in the New World.
1587 — John White returns to England.
1588 — White's ship taken to hold off Phillip II of Spain's armada.
1590 — White finally returns to Roanoke to find the colony gone.
1602 — Raleigh makes another attempt to locate the colony.
John White’s map of Roanoke Island
The Coast of Virginia in 1584
• After the successful expedition in 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent an
group of workers and soldiers lead by Captain Ralph Lane to colonize
• In less than a year they found nothing of value and murdered a Native
American Chief, before they returned to England.
• Sir Francis Drake stopped by the deserted fort left by Lane and his
men. A small security party stayed to guard the fort.
• When supply ships landed at Roanoke a couple weeks later, there was
no sign of any inhabitants.
• Sir Walter Raleigh still seen potential in Roanoke and sent another
party to colonize the island.
• This new expedition was made up of over one hundred men, women
and children. It was headed by Governor John White and included an
Native American friend.
• In 1587 the first English born baby was born in America.
• John White returned to England for more supplies, but do to a war
with Spain he was unable to return.
• The war lasted two years and when he finally returned his settlers
were no where to be found.
John White’s Roanoke
• The original fort was repaired and made habitable for families.
• This new world was unlike England and very confusing.
• The new settlement was called the Cittie of Raleigh.
• The settlers Governor White left at the fort did not know how to live
off the land and they had very bad relations with the Native
Americans in the area.
• Upon his return from England the re-fortified dwellings were
abandoned and plundered. The only noticeable things left behind
were the words “CROATAN” carved on a pillar and “CRO” carved in a
Cittie Of Raleigh “Roanoke”
John White’s return to Roanoke in 1590
Governor John White
• The English and the Native Americans had a tumultuous relationship
from the start.
• There were several types of Native American tribes in the Roanoke
• Captain Lane murdered Chief Wingina in 1585.
• John White befriends Chief Manteo. While attacking what he thought
were a hostile tribe, they made a mistake and killed friendlies and
were from then on thought of as the enemy.
• All the different tribes were very confusing to the colonists.
• Two failed expeditions
After the 1584 expedition returned to England and Sir Francis Drake visited Roanoke, he subsequently
left 15 men to guard the abandoned fort in 1586.
- John White arrived in 1587 and learned that the Native Americans had killed the 15 men
from the fort.
John White returned from England again in 1590 with supplies, and his colony had disappeared.
- Clues: Fort was plundered, Native Americans were not friendly, CROATAN was written on the fort
and CRO was written on a tree.
The dwellings were dismantled, not destroyed. White left instructions incase of trouble, but
none were followed.
* There were attempts made to find out what happened to the colony, but no substantial evidence was
brought to light.
Theories & Evidence
• The people of Roanoke left the settlement and possibly settled in the
Chesapeake Bay Area or were lost at sea.
The colonists could have traveled to this area. This is roughly the same area settled by the
Jamestown colonists, who were told by Native Americans about white settlers they killed
in the past.
• The population of Roanoke Island was killed by disease.
Possibly could have died from a disease, but no bodies, graves or any other evidence was
found. The dwellings were dismantled.
• The colony was somehow destroyed by a hurricane.
There should have been evidence. Fort was still intact, dwellings were dismantled & no
bodies were discovered. If they were on the move a storm could have killed them in route
to a new destination.
Theories & Evidence Continued
• The colonists went to live on Croatan Island, where they lived
amongst the Native Americans.
Very likely. The Croatan Tribe was friendly and their island was close by.
• The Native Americans killed the colonists.
Most Native Americans were considered savages. They had killed before. Some evidence
suggests not all were friendly and did not like the new settlers on their land.
England and Spain were at war, and the Spanish could have raided the English
settlements. Taken their homes, supplies and even may have killed or enslaved the
colonists. No evidence exists.
*There is no evidence for or against the theories, hence the great
Conclusion Still Ongoing
• Even today scientists, researchers and historians continue to
hypothesis about what happened. Extensive research projects are in
-The Croatan Project – Some signs of colonists on Croatan Island, due to
erosion the settlement could be under water. Evidence of a possible fort.
-The DNA Project – With recent discovery and capabilities of DNA use, the project is
testing for common DNA in Native Americans that may show signs the colonists
lived amongst the tribes of the region.
- The facts are that there is no conclusive evidence to what actually happened. New theories emerge
with every new discovery. The colonists whereabouts remain shrouded in mystery and may never be
The 1587 Roanoke Colonists
John White, Governor
Roger Bailie, Assistant
Ananias Dare, Assistant
Christopher Cooper, Assistant
Thomas Stevens, Assistant
John Sampson, Assistant
Dyonis Harvie, Assistant
Roger Prat, Assistant
George Howe, Assistant
Born in Virginia
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(2012, October 3). Retrieved October 28, 2013, from http://www.history.com/news/askhistory/what-happened-to-the-lost-colony-of-roanoke
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