Categories: Members of Parliament, England | Members of Parliament, Devon | Members of Parliament, Mitchell | Members of Parliament, Dorset | Members of Parliament, Cornwall | Nine Years' War (Ireland) | English Explorers | Prisoners of the Tower of London | Famous English People | Famous People of the 16th Century | Oriel College, Oxford | Lyon's Inn | Middle Temple | Namesakes US Counties | Hayes Barton, Devon | Notables.
Shown in the Visitation of the County of Devon in 1564.
Born about 1554 at Hayes Barton in Devon, Walter Raleigh was son of Walter Raleigh of Fardel and his third wife, Katherine Champernon  formerly wife of Otho Gilbert.  He had half brothers, John, Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert and a full brother, Carew Ralegh. He has been said to have been born on 22 Jan 1552 although the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography currently favours a date of 1554.  His mother is said to have had distant connections at court for Kat Ashley, Queen Elizabeth's early governess and by this time intimate confidante had been born a Champernon though the exact relationship is not known. However Kat can have had little influence on Walter's career as she died in 1565.  He was educated locally at first and the story of his life inspired Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896).
|Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais|
Around 1572 he was sent up to Oriel College, Oxford and also studied at Lyon's Inn, before travelling in France. He was back in England at Middle Temple by 1576.  In 1578 his brother, Humphrey, secured a patent to discover new lands not possessed by any Christian prince and Walter sailed with him in command of the 100 ton "Falcon" on what turned out to be an unsuccessful adventure. Well known in London by 1580 he served time briefly in the Fleet and the Marshalsea for brawling and affray and was dispatched to Ireland with a Captain's commission to serve under Arthur, Baron Grey de Wilton. Back in London, tall and dark-haired he rose in the Queen's favour and in the favour of many of the ladies of the court. He well knew how to flatter and to turn a pretty phrase and in 1583 the Queen granted him Durham Place on the Strand. In 1584 he was returned to Parliament for the first time as member for Devon and continued to be returned for various constituencies almost to the end of Elizabeth's reign. . Walter was knighted at Greenwich on 6 January 1585 during the Christmas celebrations.
Walter's brother, Humphrey Gilbert, had died in 1583 and Walter enthusiastically took up his brother's grand design for colonising the New World for which purpose in 1584 he secured a patent with backing from such men as Richard Hackluyt, Sir Francis Walsingham, Lord Charles Howard and his cousin Sir Richard Grenville. He sent out an expedition under Grenville who established a colony on Roanoke Island. It failed within a year as did a second expedition in 1587 by which time all England was worrying about the threat from Spain. Though Walter was busy organising the defences of the west country there is little evidence that he saw active service during the Armada campaign of 1588. 
By 1590 Walter was approaching forty and without a wife and, as was his wont, he began a liason with a lady-in-waiting. Bess Throckmorton was daughter of Nicholas Throckmorton and his wife, Anne Carew. Bess became pregnant and, afraid of the Queen's wrath, they were secretly married in November 1591.  A date is sometimes suggested of 19th November but no evidence is available. The child, whom they named Damerei was born on 29 March 1592 and Bess was back at court on 27 April. The secret was not a secret for long, by June both Walter and Bess were in custody and in August they were clapped in the Tower. It was not for long. A fleet he had dispatched to the Azores returned to Plymouth laden with treasure and Walter at the request of John Hawkins with Lord Burghley's assistance was sent thither to sort out the chaos of plundering that ensued. Bess was released on the 22nd of December around the time that Damerei died. Though banned from court they were free. Their second child, Walter, was baptised at Lillington in Dorset on 1 November 1593.
In 1595 he set out for South America in search of the fabled Eldorado but while he travelled up the Orinoco river he returned home empty-handed. He was only restored to some favour in 1597 after the attack on Cadiz, and again became Captain of the Queen's Guard in which capacity he was responsible for crushing the Essex rebellion of 1601. Elizabeth died on 24 March 1603.  Unlike wiser men Walter had made no attempt to find favour with the potential new monarch, James VI of Scotland, no admirer of men like Raleigh. The king disliked him at once and others who feared him or whom he had offended were not slow to take advantage. His post as Captain of the guard was given to a Scot and the Bishop of Durham succeeded in obtaining possession of Durham House. Burghley's son, Robert Cecil, who had always been counted a friend turned against him. By the end of July Walter was back in the Tower this time accused of treason. His trial was transferred to Winchester on account of an outbreak of the plague in London. Inevitably he was found guilty and sentence to be hanged, drawn and quartered. In the end the King allowed him his life. On 19 December he was reprieved, allowed two rooms in the Bloody Tower, his books, his laboratory, and the company of his wife and his friends. Walter and Bess's third son, Carew, was baptised at St Peter ad Venicula on 15 February 1605 and Bess took a house on Tower Hill. With time on his hands he took to writing prose notably his History of the World.
He was released on 19 March 1616 with no intention of retiring. At once he set about planning another voyage to the Orinoco in search of gold. He and his son Walter sailed from Plymouth with a fleet on 12 June 1617. Yet again he found little success and lost his son in the assault on San Thomé. On his return to England he was arrested accused of compromising the peace between England and Spain by the attack on San Thomé. He was executed by a headsman on 29 October 1618 on the basis of the sentence passed in 1603. His head was placed in a red leather bag and taken away by Bess. His body was buried at St Margaret, Westminster. 
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
On 7 May 2018 at 08:06 GMT C. Mackinnon wrote:
On 24 Apr 2017 at 20:46 GMT Linda (Ortland) Larson wrote:
On 26 Dec 2016 at 18:24 GMT Darvana (Dennis) Woods wrote:
Why is there no mention of this in his biography?
On 29 May 2016 at 13:28 GMT Shelley Freestone wrote:
James I's royal warrant pardoning Raleigh in 1617. In 1617, Raleigh was pardoned by the King and granted permission to conduct a second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. During the expedition, a detachment of Raleigh's men under the command of his long-time friend Lawrence Keymis attacked the Spanish outpost of Santo Tomé de Guayana on the Orinoco River, in violation of peace treaties with Spain, and against Raleigh's orders. A condition of Raleigh's pardon was avoidance of any hostility against Spanish colonies or shipping. In the initial attack on the settlement, Raleigh's son, Walter, was fatally shot. Keymis informed Raleigh of his son's death and begged for forgiveness, but did not receive it, and at once committed suicide. On Raleigh's return to England, an outraged Count Gondomar, the Spanish ambassador, demanded that Raleigh's death sentence be reinstated by King James, who had little choice but to do so. Raleigh was brought to London from Plymouth by Sir Lewis Stukeley, where he passed up numerous opportunities to make an effective escape.
On 19 Feb 2015 at 04:06 GMT Renee Malloy Esq wrote:
On 19 Feb 2015 at 03:41 GMT Anne B wrote:
On 23 Sep 2014 at 04:40 GMT Renee Malloy Esq wrote:
Walter is 21 degrees from SJ Baty, 22 degrees from Orville Redenbacher and 13 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.