Sir Walter Raleigh

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Sir Walter Raleigh
Sir Walter Raleigh - Privateer & Explorer (c1552 - 1618)

Sir Walter Raleigh was well known for starting the first English settlement in America, and for making tobacco smoking popular at court. He was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I.

This page details facts about Sir Walter Raleigh's life and the events that shaped his history.

Sir Walter Raleigh the Privateer & Explorer - Fun Facts for Kids !
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   1: Walter Raleigh was born at Hayes Barton near Budleigh Salterton in Devon around 1552. He was the youngest of five sons, three of which were his half brothers.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   2: In 1568 Walter Raleigh entered Oriel College Oxford, but left within a year.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   3: In 1569 Walter Raleigh travelled to France with a group of English volunteers, including his cousin Henry Champernown, and fought with the Huguenots. Walter Raleigh witnessed several battles, but was living back in London by 1572.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   4:

In 1578 Walter Raleigh accompanied his half brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, to America on an unsuccessful privateering expedition against the Spanish. Walter Raleigh went as captain of the Falcon, a small ship of around 100 tons.

Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   5:

Early in 1580, Walter Raleigh was twice imprisoned for affray, first in Fleet prison, then, less than a month later, in Marshalsea prison.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   6:

By the end of 1580, Walter Raleigh had managed to secure a captains commission and went to Munster in Ireland, where he took part in the suppression of the Desmond Rebellions. He was also involved in the massacre of Spanish and Italian adventurers at the siege of Smerwick.


Picture of Sir Humphrey Gilbert

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   7: Around this time he fathered an illegitimate daughter to a local woman, Alice Goold, reputed to be the daughter of Justice James Goold.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   8: Walter Raleigh returned from Ireland in 1581 and became a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I at court.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact   9: In 1584, Walter Raleigh sent a reconnaissance expedition to North America. The two captains, Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe, sailed to Florida via the Canary Islands and then followed the coast up to, what is now known as, North Carolina. At the time he named the area Virginia, in honour of Elizabeth I the virgin Queen.
Queen Elizabeth Ist Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 10:

Walter Raleigh became the Member of Parliament for Devonshire in 1584, was knighted in 1585 by Queen Elizabeth Ist and given a patent to colonise America. Subsequently, Sir Walter Raleigh sent out an expedition to Virginia. The expedition of 4 ships and 600 men, led by his cousin Sir Richard Grenville, landed on Roanoke Island in what is now North Carolina. Grenville left them there, while he set off on a privateering venture.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 11:

In July 1586 when Sir Francis Drake arrived on his way back from the Caribbean, the settlers were on bad terms with the natives and had run low on food. They took this opportunity to leave with Drake and return to England.

Picture of Queen Elizabeth Ist

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 12: Also In 1586, following redistribution of the lands seized during the rebellion, Sir Walter Raleigh gained large areas of land in Munster. These included the towns of Youghal and Lismore, and in 1587, he was appointed Captain of the Queen’s Guard.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 13: Sir Walter Raleigh commissioned a ship, named the Ark Raleigh, which was launched in 1587. The Queen purchased the ship from Raleigh for £5,000, renaming it the Ark Royal.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 14: Also in 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh sent a second expedition to attempt a settlement on Roanoke Island. John White went as Governor, along with a wider range of settlers. White returned to England for more supplies, intending to return to Roanoke within a year. At this time the Spanish Armada was expected, so Queen Elizabeth I ordered all ships to remain in port in case they were needed. Following England’s victory, White returned to sea. He was held up again when the crew insisted on sailing to Cuba with a view to capturing Spanish ships laden with treasure. They’d heard about these treasure ships from their pilot, who’d been hired by Sir Walter Raleigh. When White finally reached Roanoke after three years away, the settlers had disappeared.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 15: Sir Walter Raleigh was appointed Vice Admiral of Devon during 1588, and charged with taking care of the coastal defences.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 16:

During 1591, Sir Walter Raleigh married Elizabeth ‘Bess’ Throckmorton, a lady in waiting to the Queen, in secret. Queen Elizabeth I discovered the secret in 1592 and was furious, as she hadn't given permission for her lady in waiting to marry. She recalled Sir Walter Raleigh from an expedition privateering against the Spanish. In June 1592, Sir Walter Raleigh and his wife were both imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Elizabeth Throckmorton
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 17:

The aforementioned expedition had been successful with the capture of the Portuguese ship Madre de Dios (Mother of God). The Madre de Dios was a heavily laden treasure ship carrying gold and silver coins, jewels, pearls, ebony, spices and many other valuable items. Sir Walter Raleigh was released in August 1592 to organise the division of the plunder. Raleigh’s wife was finally released in December 1592. He then retired to his estate in Sherbourne, Dorset. Sir Walter Raleigh and Bess had a son, Walter, in 1593.


Picture of Elizabeth Throckmorton

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 18: On 6th February 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh set sail for South America in search of the fabled ‘El Dorado’. He explored what is now known as Venezuela and Guyana, and when he’d returned to England, wrote a book ‘The Discovery of Guiana’.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 19: In 1596, Sir Walter Raleigh took part in the successful capture of Cadiz, where he was seriously wounded. Following this he found favour at court again, and went on to participate as Rear Admiral, in the failed Islands Voyage to the Azores, in 1597. Sir Walter  went on to become a Member of Parliament for Dorset in the same year.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 20: In 1600, Sir Walter Raleigh became the Governor of Jersey in the Channel Islands, and in 1601 became a Member of Parliament for Cornwall. By then, he'd also come back into favour with the Queen.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 21: In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and was succeeded by James I, who disliked Raleigh.
James-I-of-England Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 22:

In the same year, Sir Walter Raleigh was arrested for alleged involvement in a plot to replace James I with his cousin Arabella Stuart. He was found guilty, but spared execution by the King. Instead, he was imprisoned in the Tower.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 23:

In 1604, while in the tower Sir Walter Raleigh's second son Carew was both conceived and born.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 24:

Sir Walter Raleigh was released in 1616 to, once again, search for El Dorado. While on the expedition, the fleet attacked a Spanish settlement, and Raleigh’s son Walter was fatally wounded. The attack, which was in violation of treaties between England and Spain, angered the Spanish ambassador who persuaded the King to reinstate the death penalty on Raleigh.

Picture of James I of England

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 25: Sir Walter Raleigh was brought back to London, and on 29th October 1618, was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at Westminster Palace.
Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 26: Sir Walter Raleigh was buried in the churchyard at Beddington, Surrey, near the home of Lady Raleigh. Later Raleigh’s body was exhumed and interred in St Margaret’s church in Westminster, where his tomb remains today.
Sir Walter Raleigh the Privateer & Explorer (c1552 - 1618) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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