Tag Archives: Roanoke

The Coward John White

The failed governor of a failed colonial enterprise, sent packing from what would soon become the fabled “Lost Colony” of Roanoke, and a pretend aristocrat whose patron procured for him a bargain-basement coat-of-arms, John White was also an “important” and “renowned” artist whose “vivid” and “lifelike” images included an Algonquian woman he depicted with two right feet.  Nearly everything John White touched turned to shit.

White did not lack for experience, we are told. He likely sailed aboard one of Martin Frobisher’s voyages in search of mineral wealth and a northwest passage in the 1570s.  He accompanied the reconnaissance voyage Sir Walter Ralegh sent to “Virginia” in 1584 and, the next year, returned aboard the much larger expedition sent to establish a base along the coast of today’s North Carolina.  He was among those men who, that summer, explored the coast to the south of Roanoke Island where he completed several paintings of the Algonquian peoples of the region and towns in which they lived, before he returned home with Sir Richard Grenville in the fall of 1585. He may have traveled more widely in the summer of 1585 to gather the information necessary to make his large map of the Outer Banks and Eastern North America. In 1587 Ralegh decided to try again, and for reasons that remain inexplicable still, he appointed White governor of what he hoped would become the “Cittie of Ralegh.”  White returned home from the colony a few weeks after arriving, and would not make back until 1590.  It was then that he discovered that the colony he claimed to have governed had disappeared.  Five voyages to America, but he spent more time aboard ships coming and going than he actually did on American shores.

It is easy, I suppose, to view White as a pathetic figure.  He brought his family to England’s paltry new world outpost. Circumstances forced him to return to England, and to struggle for several years to return to America.  He never succeeded in reuniting with his daughter, her husband, and their daughter Virginia, the first English child born in America.  How painful this must have been for him, to not know what had happened to his child and grandchild.

It is understandable.  It must have been agonizing for White. I can imagine his pain easily. But I keep tripping over my belief, based upon reading and re-reading the surviving records, that every time John White was faced with an important choice, he made the wrong one.

Every document that sheds light on the planning for the 1587 colony, for instance, shows that Ralegh charged White with establishing his “Cittie” on the Chesapeake Bay.  Relations with the Indians there the previous year offered promise.  An English party spent some time there in 1585 and 1586.  They found the deep water anchorage, abundant food, and peaceful Indians far more welcoming than the Algonquians in the vicinity of Roanoke, who would soon chase the colonists out of America.

Before heading to the Chesapeake, White wanted to check in on the men Richard Grenville had left at Roanoke the year before, shortly after the harried colonists evacuated.  He may as well have intended to install Manteo, the Indian from Croatoan who had stuck with the colonists since 1585, as a sort of feudal “Lorde of Roanoac” to govern the region in Ralegh’s name. So they were going to check in on Grenville’s colonists, install Manteo in his new post, and then carry on northward towards the Chesapeake.  Simple enough.  But that did not happen, and White’s explanation why makes little sense.

White and his men clambered aboard the pinnace, a smaller ship capable of safely crossing the Outer Banks.  “Simon Ferdinando,” the expedition’s pilot, told the sailors aboard to drop White’s party at Roanoke, “saying that the Summer was farre spent.”  It was the 22nd of July and, White suggested, Ferdinando wanted to get on with the more lucrative business of chasing Spanish prizes.

Which makes no sense at all, for Ferdinando did not leave until the last week of August, more than a month later. White spent much of his account whining about Ferdinando, blaming him for everything and for nothing, and the charges simply do not add up.  One of the ships that made up the 1587 voyage separated from the other two in some rough weather: White blamed Ferdinando for this, accusing him of trying to abandon one of the ships. At another point, Ferdinando was not certain of his latitude, and at another he thought he could find food in the Caribbean but his supplier could not be found.  Understandable, perhaps, but White blamed Ferdinando for these events, too.  The colonists ate poisonous fruit, manchineel apples, and to wash that down drank nasty, stagnant water, and fell ill.  Ferdinado remained aboard the flagship. Still, White blamed Ferdinando, even though it was he who allowed the colonists to drink “stinking water of the pond,” and who failed to keep the colonists safe while on land.  Later, the flagship nearly ran aground near Cape Fear, and again White blamed Ferdinando. And the decision to settle on Roanoke, despite instructions to go elsewhere? White blamed that on Ferdinando, too, but the only logical explanation for White and his colonists ending up on Roanoke was that he decided to settle in this somewhat familiar setting, rather than move to the Chesapeake where he had no first hand experience.

It was a bad choice.  Grenville’s  men were very clearly dead: White reported that his men found the skeleton of one of them. Very clearly they had been killed by Indians. Within a couple of days, those same Indians killed George Howe, one of White’s closest advisers.  White attempted to carry on some diplomacy and figure out how the Indians felt about his colonists, which somehow still seemed a mystery to him.  The Croatoans, always friendly, at first feared the English and lined up for battle before Manteo assuaged their fears.  They lectured the English about indiscriminate attacks the year before. They begged the English not to steal their food.  White decided that this was a good time to ask them for favors, and told them to carry messages to the neighboring Indian villages, indicating that the English “would willingly receive them againe, and that all unfriendly dealings past on both parts, should be utterly forgiven and forgotten.”  This reflected nothing more than White’s utterly clueless understanding of the situation in which he had placed the colonists–in the midst of large numbers of Algonquians who had no interest in accepting English friendship. He was in no position to “receive” anyone.

Could White make it worse?  Yes.  After waiting a week, and receiving no response from the Indians, White decided to attack “the remnant of Wingina his men, which were left alive, who dwelt at Dasamonquepeuk,” across the sound from Roanoke.  It was they, he believed, who had killed George Howe and wiped out Grenville’s party.  White led a party across the sound, surrounded some Indians in the dark at Dasemonquepeuk, and launched his assault. As White put it himself, “we hoped to acquite their evill doing towards us, but,” he said,  “we were deceived, for those Savages were our friends, and were come from Croatoan to gather the corne & fruit of that place, because they understood our enemies were fled immediatly after they had slaine George Howe.”  They killed the wrong Indians.  They killed friendly Indians, or at least he least hostile of the Algonquians in the region.  The colony was now in dire straits, with no friends, and little provision.

Over the next several days, the English baptized Manteo, and White’s daughter gave birth to Virginia Dare.  The colonists needed provisions, and White could not find any volunteers to go home to lobby for more. The colonists told White to go himself.  He whined. He feared that during his absence, “his stuffe and goods might be both spoiled, & most of them pilfered away.”  White refused to go. He feared that the people he led would rifle through his stuff.   The next day, the 23rd of August, more of the colonists, “as well women and men,” once again told White to leave.  Please. Really, just go. Don’t worry. We will be fine.  We will be better off without you.  They wanted him to leave.  They knew who they were dealing with.  They promised to sign a bond not to steal White’s crap, as if they really wanted his books and his armor.  He must have found it difficult o leave his daughter and granddaughter behind, but that is not the argument he made.  With a promise not to steal any of his stuff in hand, White departed for England on the 27th.

It was a hellish journey home. White survived, but many of the sailors did not.  He tried again to sail for America the next year, that of the Armada, but the ship he was aboard was mauled by a French corsair. In the battle for control of the ship, White was shot in the ass, an injury that does not seem to have embarrassed him at all.  By the time he finally made it back to Roanoke in 1590, he could determine only that the colonists were no longer on the island, and that the trunks containing his stuff had been dug up by Indians, broken open, and their contents ruined.  So much for that bond.  White seemed to know where the colonists were, though the location is not clear from his account.  In any case, White was a man who nobody listened to.  He could not persuade the mariners  to devote the time to seek out the colonists, and White returned, once again, to England, his voyage entirely without effect.

Roanoke Bibliography

This semester I am teaching a freshman writing seminar at Geneseo on the Lost Colony of Roanoke.  The students have now finished reading through the bulk of David Beers Quinn’s famous collection of source material, and will begin writing their own papers this week.  I compiled this bibliography, which I will share with them, at least in part to bring myself up to speed with what has been published since my book on the Roanoke ventures, The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand: Roanoke’s Forgotten Indians, appeared a decade ago.   Even though I have been intermittently at work editing my portion of the very large Oxford edition of Hakluyt’s Principall Navigations, I thought it worthwhile to check and see what was out there.

This bibliography focuses most heavily on sources published in the last decade.  For older sources, see the notes in The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand. I hope you find this useful.

New Mexico, West Indies and Guiana (Principal Navigations Wright Map)

Ambers, Janet, Joana Russell, David Saunders, and Kim Sloan.  “Hidden History? Examination of Two Patches on John White’s Map of ‘Virginia’.”  British Museum Technical  Research Bulletin 6 (2012): 47-54.

Andrews, Kenneth R. Trade, Plunder and Settlement: Maritime Enterprise and the Genesis of the British Empire, 1480-1630, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

________.  Elizabethan Privateering. Cambridge: Cambridge University   Press, 1964.

Appelbaum, Robert.  “Hunger in Early Virginia: Indians and English Facing Off over Excess, Want, and Need,” in Appelbaum and John Wood Sweet, Envisioning An English Empire: Jamestown and the Making of the North Atlantic World, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

Barker, Alex W. “Powhatan’s Pursestrings: On the Meaning of Surplus in a Seventeenth    Century Algonkian Chiefdom,” in Lords of the Southeast: Social Inequality and the Native Elites of Southeastern North America, eds. Alex W. Barker and Timothy R. Pauketat, Anthropological Papers of the American Anthropologica Associations 3 (Washington, D.C: American Anthropological Association, 1992.

Barr, Juliana.  Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Beck, Robin A., Jr., David G. Moore and Christopher B. Rodning, “Identifying Fort San Juan: A Sixteenth-Century Occupation at the Berry Site, North Carolina,” Southeastern Archaeology, 25 (2006), 65-77.

Benitez-Rojo, Antonio.  The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

Bradley, Peter T.  British Maritime Enterprise in the New World: From the Late Fifteenth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1999.

Brickell, John.  Natural History of North Carolina.  Dublin: James Carson, 1737.

Brickhouse, Anna. The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Bridge, David.  “The German Miners at Keswick and the Question of Bismuth.” Bulletin of the Peak District Mines Historical Society, 12 (Summer 1994), 108-112.

Brooks, Baylus. “John Lawson’s Indian Town on Hatteras Island, North Carolina,” North Carolina Historical Review, 91 (April 2014), 171-207.

Bullard, A. J. and Charles M. Allen.  “Synopsis of the Woody Species of Smilax in the Eastern United States North of Peninsular Florida,” Journal of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences, 129 (Summer 2013), 37-43.

Burrage, Henry S. ed., Early English and French Voyages, Chiefly from Hakluyt, 1534-1608.   New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901

Canny, Nicholas C and Karen Ordahl Kupperman. “The Scholarship and Legacy of David Beers Quinn, 1909-2002,” William and Mary Quarterly, 60 (October 2003), 843-861.

Canny, Nicholas. “Writing Early Modern History: Ireland, Britain, and the Wider World,”Historical Journal, 46 (September 2003), 723-747.

Cormack, Lesley B.  Charting an Empire: Geography at the English Universities, 1580-1620, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997).

Cowper, H. S. The Art of Attack and the Development of Weapons. Eastbourne: Naval and Military Press, 2006.

Dawson, Scott and Jeanne L. Gillespie, “The Vocabulary of Croatoan Algonquian,” Southern Quarterly, 51 (Summer 2014), 48-53.

Donegan, Kathleen. “What Happened in Roanoke: Ralph Lane’s Narrative Incursion,” Early American Literature, 48 (no.2, 2013), 285-314.

________. Seasons of Misery: Catastrophe and Colonial Settlement in Early America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).

Duke, James A. Handbook of Nuts: Herbal Reference Library. Boca Raton, FL :CRC Publishers. 2000.

Durant, David N.  Raleigh’s Lost Colony. New York: Atheneum, 1981.

Eastman, John.  The Book of Swamp and Bog: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern Freshwater Wetlands. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1995.

Egloff, Keith T. “Spheres of Cultural Interaction Across the Coastal Plain of Virginia in the Woodland Period,” in Structure and Process in Southeastern Archaeology, ed. Roy S. Elton, Geoffrey Rudolph.  The New Cambridge Modern History: Volume 2, The Reformation, 1520-1559, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Erichson-Brown, Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes.  Mineola, NY: Dover, 1989.

Foster, Steven and Rebecca L. Johnson, National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature’s Medicine. New York: National Geographic Society, 2008.

Fullam, Brandon. The Lost Colony of Roanoke: New Perspectives, Jefferson, NC: McFarland And Company, 2017.

Gallivan, Martin D.  “Measuring Sedentariness and Settlement Population: Accumulations Research in the Middle Atlantic Region,” American Antiquity, 67 (July 2002), 535-557.

________. James River Chiefdoms: The Rise of Social Inequality in the Chesapeake. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003).

Gardner, Paul R.  “Excavations at the Amity Site: Final Report of the Pomeiooc Project, 1984-1989,” Archaeological Research Report 7, Archaeology Laboratory, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.

Gleach, Frederic W. Powhatan’s World and Colonial Virginia: A Conflict of Cultures. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Green, Paul R.  The Archaeology of 31HY43: “Pomieooc”: 1985-1986 Field Seasons,, Greenville, N.C: East Carolina University Department of Sociology and Anthropology, 1987.

Goldman, William S. “Spain and the Founding of Jamestown,” William and Mary Quarterly, 68 (July 2011), 427-450

Hall, Joseph. “Glimpses of Roanoke, Visions of New Mexico, and Dreams of Empire in the Mixed-Up Memories of Geronimo de la Cruz,” William and Mary Quarterly, 72 (April 2015), 323-350.

Hamel, Paul B. and Mary U. Chiltoskey, Cherokee Plants and their Uses—A 400 Year History.  Sylva, NC: Herald Publishing, 1975.

Hann, John T, ed.  “Translation of the Ecija Voyages of 1605 and 1609 and the Gonzalez Derrotero of 1609.” Florida Archaeology. 2 (1986). 1-79.

Harriot, Thomas. A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. Facsimile ed. New York: Dover, 1972.

Hatfield, April Lee. “Spanish Colonization Literature, Powhatan Geographies, and English Perceptions of Tsenacommacah/Virginia,” Renaissance Quarterly, 67 (Summer 2014),425-472.

Heaney, Christopher. “A Peru of their Own: English Grave-Opening and Indian Sovereignty in Early America,” William and Mary Quarterly, 73 (October 2016), 608-646.

Herrmann, Rachel B. “The ‘Tragicall Historie’: Cannibalism and Abundance in Colonial Jamestown,” William and Mary Quarterly, 68 (January 2011), 47-74.

Hill, John.  A History of the Materia Medica. London: T. Longman, 1751.

Hoffman, Paul E.  A New Andalucia on the Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

________. The Spanish Crown and the Defense of the Caribbean, 1535-1585: Precedent, Patrimonialism, and Royal Parsimony. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980.

Horn, James. A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of  Roanoke. New York: Basic Books, 2010.

Horning, Audrey. Ireland in the Virginian Sea: Colonialism in the British Atlantic.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press,  2013.

Hudson, Charles M., ed.  The Juan Pardo Expeditions: Explorations of the Carolinas and Tennessee, 1566-1568, (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005).

Hulton, Paul. America 1585: The Complete Drawings of John White. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

Hume, Ivor Noel. The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne. Charlottesville: University Press of Virgnia, 1997.

Isil, Olivia A. “Simon Fernandez: Master Mariner and Roanoke Assistant: A New Look at an Old Villain.” In Searching for the Roanoke Colonies: An Interdisciplinary Collection, eds. E. Thomson Shields and Charles R. Ewen, (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2003.

Jones, Eric E. “Spatiotemporal Analysis of Old World Diseases in North America, A.D. 1519-1807,” American Antiquity, 79 (July 2014), 487-506.

Jones, Rosalind, “American Beauties, or What’s Wrong with this Picture? Paintings of the Women of Virginia from John White to Joan Blaeu,” Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 7 (Fall 2012), 215-229

Jowitt, Clare.   The Culture of Piracy, 1580-1630: English Literature and Seaborne Crime. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010.

Kaplan, Eugene H.  Sensuous Seas: Tales of a Marine Biologist. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Keeler, Mary Frear, ed.  Sir Francis Drake’s West Indian Voyage, 1585-1586, Works Issued by the Hakluyt Society, Second Series, No. 148. London: Hakluyt Society, 1975.

Kelly, Brian T. and Michael K. Phillips.  “Red Wolf.”  In Endangered Animals: A Reference Guide to Conflicting Issues, eds., Richard P. Reading and Brian Miller. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Kelsey, Harry.  Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth’s Slave Trader.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003.

Klein, Michael J. and Douglas W. Sanford. “Analytical Scale and Archaeological Perspectives on the Contact Era in the Northern Neck of Virginia.” Contact in       Context: New Archaeological, Anthropological and Historical Perspectives on Natives and Europeans in the Mid-Atlantic. Eds. Julia King and Dennis Blanton. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2004, 47-73.

Klingelhofer, Eric. “Captain Edward Stafford of the Roanoke Colonies,” North Carolina Historical Review, 77 (July 2017): 283-298.

Knighton, C. S. and David Loades, eds.  The Navy of Edward VI and Mary.  Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2011.

Kupperman, Karen Ordahl. “Before 1607,” William and Mary Quarterly, 72 (January 2015), 3- 24.

________.  Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.

________. Indians and English: Facing off in Early America. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000.

________.  “English Perceptions of Treachery, 1583-1640: The Case of the American ‘Savages’.” Historical Journal, 20 (1977): 263-287.

LaCombe, Michael A. “’A Continuall and Dayly Table for Gentlemen of Fashion’: Humanism, Food, and Authority at Jamestown, 1607-1609,” American Historical Review, 115 (June 2010), 669-687.

Lance, Ron.  Woody Plants of the Southeastern United States: A Winter Guide.  Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004.

Lane, Kris E.  Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500-1750. Armonk, NY: M. E.   Sharpe, 1998.

LaVere, David.  “The Lost Colony of Roanoke: New Perspectives,” North Carolina Historical Review, 94 (October 2017), 439-440

________.  The Lost Rocks: The Dare Stones and the Unsolved Mystery of Sir Walter Raleigh’s Lost Colony.  Wilmington, NC: Burnt Mill Press, 2010.

Lawson, John.  A New Voyage to Carolina. Hugh Talmadge Lefler, ed.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967.

Loftfield, Thomas C. and David C. Jones. “Late Woodland Architecture on the Coast of North Carolina: Structural Meaning and Environmental Adaptation.” Southeastern Archaeology. 14 (Winter 1995), 120-135.

MacCaffrey, Wallace T. Elizabeth I: War and Politics, 1588-1603. Princeton: Princeton  University Press, 1992.

________. Queen Elizabeth and the Making of Policy, 1572-1588. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981.

MacGregor, A.  “Medical terra sigillata: A Historical, Geographical and Typological Review,” in A History of Geology and Medicine, C. J. Duffin, R. T. J. Moddy and C. Gardner-Thorpe, eds., Geological Society, Special Publication 375.  London: The Geological Society, 2013, pp. 113-136.

MacMillan, Ken. “Sovereignty ‘More Plainly Described’: Early English Maps of North America, 1580-1625,” Journal of British Studies, 42 (October 2003), 413-447.

Mallios, Seth.  The Deadly Politics of Giving: Exchange and Violence at Ajacan, Roanoke and   Jamestown. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006

________. “Gift Exchange and the Ossomocomuck Balance of Power: Explaining Algonquian Socioeconomic Aberrations at Contact,” in Searching for the Roanoke Colonies: An Interdisciplinary Collection, eds. E. Thomson Shields and Charles R. Ewen, (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2003.

________. “In the  Hands of ‘Indian Givers’: Exchange and Violance at Ajacan, Roanoke and Jamestown.” Ph.D. diss., University of Virginia, 1998.

Mancall, Peter C.  Hakluyt’s Promise: An Elizabethan’s Obsession for an English America, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.

Markham, Clement., ed., The Guanches of Tenerife. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1867.

Mulcahey, Matthew.  Hurricanes and Society in the British Greater Caribbean, 1624-1783. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

Miller, Christopher L. and George Hamell, “A New Perpsective on Indian-White Contact: Cultural Symbols and Colonial Trade, Journal of American History, 73 (1986), 311-328.

Miller, Lee. Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony, (New York: Arcade, 2000).

Miller, Shannon.  Invested with Meaning: The Raleigh Circle in the New World, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998.

Mires, Peter B. “Contact and Contagion: The Roanoke Colony and Influenza.” Historical Archaeology. 29 (1994): 30-38.

Monardes, Nicholas.  Joyfull Newes Out of the New Founde World, ed. Sir. Stephen Gaselee, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1925).

Mt. Pleasant, Jane. “The Science Behind the Three Sisters Mound System: An Agronomic Assessment of an Indigenous Agricultural System in the Northeast.” In John E. Staller, Robert H. Tykot and Bruce F. Benz, eds., Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the Prehistory, Linguistics, Biogeography, Domestication and Evolution of Maize. Amsterdam: Academic Press, 2006.

Oberg, Michael Leroy. The Head in Edward Nugent’s Hand: Roanoke’s Forgotten Indians,  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007).

________. “Between ‘Savage Man’ and ‘Most Faithful Englishman’: Manteo and the Early Anglo-Indian Exchange,” Itinerario, 24 (2000), 146-169.

________. “Gods and Men: The Meeting of Indian and White Worlds on the Carolina Outer   Banks, 1584-1586,” North Carolina Historical Review, 76 (1999), 367-390.

________. Dominion and Civility: English Imperialism and Native America, 1585-1685. Ithaca:   Cornell University Press, 1999.

Palmer, William M. and Alvin W. Braswell. Reptiles of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Parramore, Thomas C.  “The ‘Lost Colony’ Found: A Documentary Perspective.” North Carolina Historical Review, 78 (January 2001): 67-83.

Phelps, David Sutton. Ancient Pots and Dugout Canoes: Indian Life as Revealed by Archaeology at Lake Phelps. Creswell, NC: Pettigrew State Park, 1989.

Pearson, Thomas Gilbert, C. S. Brimley, and H. H. Brimley, Birds of North Carolina. Raleigh: Edwards and Broughton, 1919.

Pluymers, Keith. “Atlantic Iron: Wood Scarcity and the Political Ecology of Early English Expansion,” William and Mary Quarterly, 73 (July 2016), 389-426.

________.  “Taming the Wilderness in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Ireland and Virginia,” Environmental History, 16 (October 2011), 610-632.

Potter, Stephen R., Commoners, Tribute and Chiefs: The Development of Algonquian Culture in the Potomac Valley, Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993.

Powell, William S. “Who Came to Roanoke?” Searching for the Roanoke Colonies: An Interdisciplinary Collection, eds E. Thomson Shields and Charles R. Ewen. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2003.

________.  “The Search for Ananias Dare.” Searching for the Roanoke Colonies: An Interdisciplinary Collection, eds E. Thomson Shields and Charles R. Ewen. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, 2003

________.  “Who were the Roanoke Colonists?” Raleigh and Quinn: The Explorer and His Boswell. H. G. Jones, ed.  Chapel Hill: The North Carolinia Society, 1987. Pp. 51-67.

________. “Roanoke Colonists and Explorers: An Attempt at Identification.” North  Carolina Historical Review. 34 (April 1957): 202-226.

Probasco, Nate. “Cartography as a Tool of Colonization: Sir Humphrey Gilbert’s 1583 Voyage to North America,” Renaissance Quarterly, 67 (Summer 2014), 425-472.

Quinn, David Beers. Quinn, David Beers.  Explorers and Colonies: America, 1500-1625. London: Hambledon Press, 1990.

________.   Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.

________. “Drake, Sir Bernard,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 1, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed May 23, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/drake_bernard_1E.html.

________, ed., The Roanoke Voyages, 2 vols. London: Hakluyt Society, 1955.

________, ed., The Voyages and Colonizing Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, London: Hakluyt Society, 1940.

Raffaele, Herbert A. and James W. Wiley.  Wildlife of the Caribbean.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014.

Ralegh, Sir Walter.  The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empyre of Guiana. Neil L. Whitehead, ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

Renaud, Tabitha. “Rivalry and Mutiny: The Internal Struggles of Sixteenth-Century North American Colonization Parties,” Terra Incognitae, 43 (April 2011), 24-38

Rountree, Helen C.  The Powhatan Indians of Virginia: Their Traditional Culture, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992.

Rowse, A. L.  Sir Richard Grenville of the Revenge. London: Cape, 1937.

Schmidt, Ethan A. “The Well-Ordered Commonwealth: Humanism, Utopian Perfectionism, and the English Colonization of the Americas,” Atlantic Studies, 7 (Spring 2010), 309-328.

Schroeder, Sissel.  “Maize Productivity in the Eastern Woodlands and Great Plains of North America.” American Antiquity, 64 (July 1999), 499-516.

Schwartz, Frank Joseph.  Sharks, Skates and Rays of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Seed, Patricia.  Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1616.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Shaw, William A. The Knights of England. London: Sherratt and Hughes, 1906.

Sherman, William H. “Bringing the World to England: The Politics of Translation in the Age Of Hakluyt,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 14 (2004), 199-207

Shirley, John.  Thomas Harriot: A Biography. London: Oxford University Press, 1983.

Shirley, John, ed., Thomas Harriot: Renaissance Scientist, London: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Slattery, Britt, Katheryn Reshetiloff and Susan Zwicker, Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed, (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 2003).

Silberhorn, Gene M. Common Plants of the Mid-Atlantic Coast: A Field Guide. Revised ed., Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Sloan, Kim.  A New World: England’s First View of America, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

Speck, Frank G.  “Catawba Medicines and Curative Practices.” Publications of the Anthropological Society, 1 (1937), 179-197.

Stahle, David W., Malcom K. Cleaveland, Dennis B. Blanton, Matthew D. Therrell, and David, “The Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts.” Science, New Series, Vol. 280, No., 5363 (24 April 1998), 564-567.

Stephenson, James.  Herring Fishermen: Images of an Eastern North Carolina Tradition.  Charleston: History Press, 2007.

Stick, David.  Roanoke Island: The Beginnings of English America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.

Strachey, William. Historie of Travaile into Virginia Britannia, London: Hakluyt Society, 1849.

Sugden, John.  Sir Francis Drake.  New York: Random House, 1990.

Taylor, E. G. R., ed., The Original Writings and Correspondence of the Two Richard Hakluyts, 2 vols. London: Hakluyt Society, 1935).

Townshend, Camilla. Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma, New York: Hill and Wang, 2005.

VanDerwarker, Amber M. “An Archaeological Study of Late Woodland Fauna in the Roanoke River Basin,” North Carolina Historical Review, 50 (January 2001), 1-46.

Vaughan, Alden T. Transatlantic Encounters: American Indians in Britain, 1500-1776,  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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One Ring to Rule Them All: Roanoke and that Signet Ring

Recently Smithsonian Magazine published a piece by Andrew Lawler on the signet ring found on Hatteras Island by archaeologist David Sutton Phelps. Phelps, who taught at East Carolina University, died in 2009.

As Lawler correctly points out,

The 1998 discovery electrified archaeologists and historians. The artifact seemed a rare remnant of the first English attempt to settle the New World that might also shed light on what happened to 115 men, women, and children who settled the coast, only to vanish in what became known as the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

One Ring to Rule Them All

Now it turns out that researchers had it wrong from the start.

That’s for sure, and we have known that for a while. Phelps was convinced that the ring was gold, but recent research at ECU indicates that it was made from brass.  Not a bit of gold in it at all.  And that is disappointing news, for many people.  Why?  After Phelps’ original discovery of the ring, Lawler notes,

A senior member of London’s College of Arms subsequently noted that the seal on the signet ring was of a lion passant, and suggested that it might relate to the Kendall family of Devon and Cornwall. A Master Kendall was part of the first colonization attempt in 1585, while another Kendall visited Croatoan when a fleet led by Sir Francis Drake stopped by in 1586. Though this link was never confirmed, the object was nicknamed the Kendall ring.

Since Phelps thought the ring was made of a precious material and likely belonged to the Elizabethan era, he argued it was an important clue. “That doesn’t mean the Lost Colony was here,” he told a reporter at the dig site after the ring’s discovery. “But this begins to authenticate that.”

When the artist and governor John White returned to Roanoke in 1590 after three years away, he found no colonists but he did find the word “Croatoan” etched into a post set by the English.  Historians have long thought that for a variety of reasons, some of the colonists may have relocated to Croatoan, today’s Hatteras, even though the evidence in White’s account shows that he thought the colonists had moved up the Albemarle Sound.  The only native peoples willing to talk to the English lived there–Manteo, baptized and named “Lord of Roanoke” by Ralegh, was from Croatoan, even though his people begged the English colonists not to hurt them and steal their food. Croatoan, morever, might have served as a workable lookout for English ships arriving through the southern route.  Phelps, as a result, felt that he had found something of significance, proof that the colonists had gone to Croatoan.

Still, archaeologists were skeptical from the beginning.  Phelps was slow in letting investigators see the ring, or his field notes.  When those were made available to researchers, the problems with linking it to the Roanoke colonists were obvious.  The ring, for instance, was found in the wrong archaeological context, deposited with items from a century after the Roanoke colonies.  The ring may have been traded from native person to native person.  There need not have been any English outpost for the ring to arrive at Hatteras.  As Charles Heath, an archaeologist who was present when Phelps discovered the ring and who Lawler interviewed pointed out, “a stray 16th-century artifact found here and there on the Outer Banks will not make for a Lost Colony found.”

This has been a tough truth for many of those who are determined to find the men, women, and children who settled on Roanoke in 1587. The fate of the Lost Colonists is one of those great American historical mysteries, even though the sands and shores of the “New World,” according to surviving European accounts, were littered with the remains of many, many Lost Colonists.  This fascination, which continues, is thus an example of American Exceptionalism, and it is one that students of Native American history ought to try to counter.  My book on Roanoke, published a decade ago, was one effort, but there is still much work to do.

A hundred or so colonists, who left Roanoke Island sometime between late 1587 and the summer of 1590, never to be seen again.  That is the story.  You can see it acted out in the “Lost Colony” drama, staged every year at the Fort Raleigh Historic Site. You can read about it in book after book.  And here is my problem with all that.  Rather than casting Roanoke and the fate of the colonists as an English story, it is more fruitful, I would argue, to recognize that the men and women sent by Sir Walter Ralegh to America intruded into a world dominated by Algonquian peoples.  The English planted their first outpost on Roanoke Island in 1585, after all, only because native peoples allowed them to.  When they returned in 1587, we know that they found themselves under attack, and that many of those same native peoples had little interest in assisting the newcomers.  Whatever happened to the colonists, in other words, was determined by native peoples. Whether they blended in with Indians on Croatoan, or in the interior, or were wiped out by Wahunsonacock and his warriors from the Powhatan Paramount Chiefdom, native peoples determined the fate of the Lost Colonists.  Yet native peoples in these stories are largely invisible, their motives and their perceptions of the English (and, yes, these perceptions can be unearthed through a careful reading of the surviving documents) not a factor.  Roanoke is an English story, when all the evidence suggests that this is a story of indigenous peoples dealing with a small group of outsiders who likely never learned how to play by Algonquian rules.

We historians who study the Native American past need to counter American Exceptionalism wherever it presents itself. We need to move native peoples into the heart of our national story: American history cannot be told accurately without Indians, and in the era before the Civil War especially, native peoples were far more dominant and powerful and sovereign than white American narratives allow.  These exceptionalist, settler-state narratives, then, are not only historically incorrect, but dishonest at a fundamental level, in that they erase native peoples from an American story that they helped to create and shape and make their defeat and marginalization and dispossession of these communities seem inevitable, foreordained and thus forgiveable.

Though Smithsonian is increasingly looking like a travel magazine for old people, like Modern Maturity with less stuff about heart health and diet, it has the resources to do a better job on these issues.  David Sutton Phelps thought the ring he found could prove the location and fate of the Lost Colonists.  He thought it was made from gold.  It wasn’t. The ring was, like his interpretation, brass, something much less than he thought.  The story of the Lost Colonists will not be complete until the native peoples with whom they interacted are placed at the center of the story.