Author: Mesiti, Matthew

Editor: O’Brien, Sinead

Index Name: Ralegh, Sir Walter


Sir Walter Ralegh, Raleigh, Rawleigh, or Rawley, either born in 1552, or 1554, was a captivating soldier, scholar, poet, musician, courtier, explorer, colonizer, Captain of the Queen’s Guard, member of Parliament[1], business man, and prisoner of the Elizabethan and Stuart eras.  Early in life, Ralegh volunteered in the Huguenot army in France and attended Oxford University.  In England, he was favored by Queen Elizabeth I, going from a courtier to Captain in the Queen’s Guard.  In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I granted him a royal charter to colonize in the New World. One expedition included Roanoke Island[2], or the “lost colony.”  In 1595, he and Laurence Kemy adventured to find El Dorado, where they discovered gold in Guiana[3].  Ralegh was also notorious for his involvement in a group called the “school of night,” which included Thomas Harriot, Christopher Marlowe, and George Chapman. He also famously replied to Marlowe’s poem, “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” with “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd.” James I, the first Stuart king of England, was convinced that Ralegh was conspiring against his throne and England.  As a result, Ralegh was arrested on in July, 1603, by English authority and imprisoned for thirteen years, but later released in 1616.  He was executed for treason on October 29th, 1618, at the Palace of Westminster[4].  Many believe that Ralegh was not given a fair trial.

[1] Parliament for Devonshire

[2] Today known as Dare County, North Carolina

[3] Region of Venezuela

[4] North bank of River Thames in City of Westminster, Central London




Ralegh, Sir Walter
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