Sir Walter Raleigh (1552/1554-1618) was a member of the landed gentry, who also served as a soldier and Captain of the Queen’s Guard. Known for popularizing tobacco in England, Raleigh was also a scholar, poet, musician, courtier, and explorer. He was a successful business man, and served as a member of Parliament.
Raleigh volunteered in the Huguenot army in France and attended Oxford University. He was favored by Queen Elizabeth I, who appointed him a Captain in the Queen’s Guard. In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I granted him a royal charter to colonize in the New World. Raleigh was notorious for his involvement in a group called the “school of night,” which included Thomas Harriot, Christopher Marlowe, and George Chapman. James I, the first Stuart king of England, was convinced that Raleigh was conspiring against his throne and England. Raleigh was arrested in 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.