However, escalating conflicts with Spain (the Spanish Armada attacked in 1588) delayed White’s return. He tried to send two pinnaces to Roanoke in 1588, but they were beset by French privateers and failed in their mission. When White finally did return to Roanoke in 1590 (as a passenger aboard Captain Abraham Cocke’s man-of-war Hopewell), the colonists had disappeared; the only trace of the settlers was the word CROATOAN inscribed on a tree. White believed the inscription signaled that at least some of the colonists had taken refuge with Manteo and his people at Croatoan. He asked that Cocke sail the 60 miles to the native settlement, but he encountered hostility from the crew. They were anxious to return to England to collect their prize money from recently captured goods and wished to leave the tempestuous seas of the Outer Banks, which had already caused several deaths by drowning.
The Hopewell suffered more damage from the weather and barely made it back to England on October 24, 1590. White could not persuade the otherwise preoccupied Raleigh to finance another venture to find the colonists, and he never returned to North Country. Although the Roanoke colonists were never heard from again, White died convinced that they had still been alive in 1590. San Juan Metro Map Based on various forms of circumstantial evidence, some scholars speculate that the colonists had established settlements near the Chesapeake but Powhatan destroyed them shortly before the settlement of Jamestown in 1607. No conclusive evidence of this has been found. Roanoke finally became known in legend as the Lost Colony, and the fate of the Roanoke colonists remains shrouded in mystery. Judkin Browning See also: Exploration; Raleigh, Sir Walter; Virginia; Virginia (Chronology). Bibliography Durant, David N. Raleigh’s Lost Colony. New York: Atheneum, 1981. Hudson, Marjorie. Searching for Virginia Dare: A Fool’s Errand. Wilmington, NC: Coastal Carolina Press, 2002. Quinn, David Beers. Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 15841606. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.