Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

East Budleigh, East Devon District, Devon, England
Death 29 Oct 1618 (aged 66)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Plot south of the altar
Memorial ID 11918 · View Source
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Explorer. He received world-wide notoriety for many achievements but being an explorer of the “New World” of America is his most note-worthy. His three failed attempts to colonize the what is today the North Carolina Outer Banks of Roanoke Island made him a part of United States history. Although he never was at Roanoke, he sent John White with over a hundred settlers on the third attempt to what would become known as the “Lost Colony.” Becoming a confidant of England's Queen Elizabeth I, he was a nobleman as well as an officer in the army. The son of a well-to-do family, he studied at Oxford before serving as a teenager in the Huguenot Army in France in 1669 and again in the Queen's army in Ireland in 1580. He became the governor of Jersey. For these reasons, he was made a knight in 1585, given an Irish estate, and became captain of the Queen's of Guards. Legend tells the saga of Raleigh throwing his cloak across a mud puddle for Elizabeth I to keep her feet dry. In 1587 he explored the coastal areas of Virginia to present-day Florida, naming the area Virginia in honor of Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.” In 1588 he participated in the English victory over the Spanish Armada recovering many Spanish riches as spoils-of-war. He lost the Queen's favor with his secret marriage to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Bessy Throckmorton, thus imprisoned in 1592 with his bride and servants in the Tower of London. He is credited with introducing the potato plant and tobacco use in England and Ireland. After Elisabeth I's death in 1603, he was implicated as an enemy of her successor James I and given a death sentence. While in the Tower of London for a second time, he wrote in 1614 the “History of the World.” His “jail cell” was very comfortable with his own library. In 1616 when his sentence was overturned, he led an expedition into Spanish territory in South America to present-day Venezuela searching for the legendary land of gold in El Dorado. Upon his return empty-handed, he was arrested for a third time, his original death sentence for treason was invoked and he was beheaded at Westminster. He spent a total of thirteen years in the Tower of London. His wife took his head home in a leather bag , had it embalmed, stored it in a cupboard, and often displayed his head for her husband's admirers. His body was buried in Saint Margaret's in the Chancel of the church, abutting Westminster, yet the severed head is believed to have been buried in 1666 in his son Carew's grave in Saint Margaret Cemetery and later in 1680 moved with Carew's remains to his family's vault in the chancel of St. Mary Church in Surrey. A gifted poet, writer, and scholar, many of his writings were destroyed. A pioneer of the Italian sonnet-form in English, he was a patron of the arts, notably of poet Edmund Spenser in his composition of “The Faerie Queene.” Raleigh, North Carolina was named in his honor. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Dare County, North Carolina displays many of the artifacts of the “Lost Colony.”

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 27 Aug 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11918
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sir Walter Raleigh (22 Jan 1552–29 Oct 1618), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11918, citing St. Margaret's Churchyard, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .