Sir Walter Raleigh Facts and Biography

Sir Walter Raleigh

Biography Summary: Sir Walter Raleigh (1552 - 1618) was famous as an explorer, poet, author and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I. A chivalrous man born into a chivalrous time, he was an extraordinarily charismatic man. As an explorer Sir Walter Raleigh led expeditions to the Orinoco River basin in South America in search of the golden city of El Dorado. Sir Walter Raleigh never personally visited North America, although he sponsored others to found the Roanoke Colony in Virginia, which became known as the "Lost Colony". Sir Walter Raleigh was from a family of famous men, his younger half-brother was Sir Humphrey Gilbert, cut from the same cloth as his older brother.

Sir Walter Raleigh also explored and served at her majesties pleasure and their cousin was Sir Richard Grenville, also a seaman of repute. His own full brother, Carew, was an English naval commander and Member of Parliament.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact Sheet: Who was Sir Walter Raleigh? The following short biography and fact sheet provides interesting facts about the life, times and history of Sir Walter Raleigh.


Facts about Sir Walter Raleigh


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Sir Walter Raleigh Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1552 - 1618 *** Full Name: Sir Walter Raleigh *** Occupation: English Landed Gentleman and Writer, Poet and Courtier, Soldier, Spy and Explorer *** Date of Birth: Sir Walter Raleigh was born on January 22,1552 *** Place of Birth: Sir Walter Raleigh was born in Hayes Barton, East Budleigh, Devon, England *** Family background: His father was Walter Raleigh and his mother was Catherine Champernowne. His mother married twice and had several sons, John, Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert and Carew Raleigh *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in a protestant household and would have several close calls while Mary I was Queen of England and a staunch Roman Catholic *** Education: Sir Walter Raleigh would have been educated as befitted his station. It is known he attended Oriel College in Oxford and continued his education at Inns of Court and registered at Middle Temple *** Sir Walter Raleigh died on October 29, 1618.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 1: Sir Walter Raleigh was born on January 22,1552 during the 16th century period in history when Portugal and Spain were exploring the oceans of the world and colonizing new lands.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 2: Having grown up in the reign of Queen Mary I and suffered the fear of being a protestant in a Roman Catholic country, he would develop an enormous hatred of Catholicism and would be quite outspoken about his feelings once Elizabeth I became the Protestant Queen.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 3: During 1569 he travelled to France to assist the Huguenots in the French religious civil wars.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 4: In 1579 Sir Walter Raleigh assisted with putting down the Desmond Rebellions in Ireland.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 5: He was also present at the Siege of Smerwick and would be awarded lands, which included Youghal and Lismore, making him a principle land owner in Munster.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 6: Sir Walter Raleigh would spend seventeen years as a landlord of Ireland and was mayor in Youghal between 1588 and 1589.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 7: Sir Walter Raleigh would eventually sell off all of his lands in Ireland to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 8: During 1584 he was granted a Royal Charter by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth which gave him the authority to explore, colonize and also rule any “remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries, and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian Prince, or inhabited by Christian People,” and in return he was to received one-fifth of any gold or silver that may be discovered.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 9: The charter was good for a seven year period. In that period it was hoped, by the queen and Sir Walter Raleigh, that a base could be set up from which they could operate privateers on raids against the Spanish treasure ships.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 10: Although Sir Walter Raleigh himself never went to North America he did lead expeditions to the Orinoco River basin situated in South America and went in search of the golden city called El Dorado.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 11: Such expeditions were funded by himself and his friends but never actually produced any real wealth.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 12: Sir Walter Raleigh made his return to England from Ireland in 1581. He settled into court life and would become a favorite of the Queen as a result of his successful efforts in promoting the Protestant Church in Ireland.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 13: Sir Walter Raleigh would be knighted in 1585 and appointed warden of the stannaries’, the tin mines of Devon and Cornwall, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall and also vice-Admiral of the two counties. During 1585 and also 1586 he would sit in Parliament as the member for Devonshire.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 14: At that time Sir Walter Raleigh was also granted the rights to colonize America and he sponsored others to found the Roanoke Colony.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 15: He charged R Chapman with building him a ship which he was going to call her Ark, but at the time ships were also given the names of their owners so his ship would be called Ark Raleigh but when Elizabeth purchased the ship off of him she would finally become called Ark Royal.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 16: As a favorite of the Queen, Sir Walter Raleigh received many gifts and in 1592 he was the recipient of Durham House in the Strand and an estate called Sherborne in Dorset. She appointed him Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 17: At this time no one was allowed to marry without the express pleasure of the Queen herself. Raleigh married Elizabeth Throckmorton who was one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting. Eleven years younger than Raleigh and already pregnant they married in secret. Bess gave birth to a son who was left with a wet nurse while she returned to her duties with Queen Elizabeth. The baby died in infancy.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 18: The Queen discovered the unsanctioned marriage and immediately dismissed Bess and had Sir Walter Raleigh sent to the Tower of London. As the Queen had need of his services, he was released from prison, but it would be many years before he would return to her favor.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 19: He would take part in the Capture of Cadiz and would be wounded for his part in 1596. He would also be present during the 3rd Spanish Armada in 1597 and fortunately the Armada would be dispersed due to severe weather.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 20: When Queen Elizabeth I died, her successor James I of England and VI of Scotland would have him arrested on charges of treason and he was imprisoned once more in the Tower of London.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 21: During his trial, the main evidence against Sir Walter Raleigh was from one person, his friend, the 11th Baron Cobham, Henry Brooke. Sir Walter Raleigh repeatedly requested Cobham appear in court to answer to his eye witness statement, but his requests were refused. He would be found guilty on very flimsy evidence, but King James chose to spare his life. He was however held in the Tower until such time as the King decided to free him.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 22: Sir Walter Raleigh was pardoned in 1617 on condition that he would not be hostile towards the Spanish shipping or colonies. Having been granted permission to explore Venezuela, still in search of El Dorado, Sir Walter Raleigh, together with his friend Lawrence Keymis, set out on the expedition.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 23: It would transpire that Keymis, who also had Raleigh’s son Walter aboard his ship, attacked an outpost of Santo Tome de Guayano on the Orinoco River, against Raleigh's wishes and in violation of the peace treaties. Raleigh’s son was shot and killed. When Sir Walter Raleigh was informed by Keymis of what had transpired and begged his forgiveness, Sir Walter Raleigh was not disposed to give it and Keymis committed suicide.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 24: When Sir Walter Raleigh returned home, the Spanish ambassador was outraged and demanded the King reinstate Raleigh's death sentence. King James had no choice but to comply. Although Raleigh had ample opportunity to make his escape, he chose not to.

Sir Walter Raleigh Fact 25: On October 29, 1618 Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster. It was a sad day indeed when Sir Walter Raleigh was executed. He asked to view the axe that would take his head and having examined it remarked “This is a sharp medicine, but it is a physician for all diseases and miseries.” His last words were recorded as being “Strike, man, strike!”. His embalmed head was presented to his wife Bess and his body would be laid to rest in St Margaret’s at Westminster.

Influence and Legacy of Sir Walter Raleigh: A popular historical figure from the Elizabethan era he would become well known his explorations, as a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I and for famously popularizing tobacco and potatoes in England. His great work, The History of the World was written in 1614 during his imprisonment in the Tower Of London.



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