Ralph Lane

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For the footballer, see Ralph Lane (footballer).
Sir Ralph Lane
Born c.1532
Died October 1603
Nationality English
Occupation explorer

Sir Ralph Lane (c. 1532 – October 1603)[1][2] was an English explorer of the Elizabethan era. He was part of the unsuccessful attempt in 1585 to colonize Roanoke Island, North Carolina. He also served the Crown in Ireland and was knighted by the Queen in 1593.

Early life and education[edit]

Ralph's origins have not been proven. According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he was "of unknown parentage and education".[3]

It has been theorized that his parents were Sir Ralph Lane of Orlingbury, Hogshaw and Horton[disambiguation needed][4] and Maud Parr,[5] a cousin of Catherine Parr, the last queen consort of Henry VIII, however, no evidence has been found to prove this (for further information please refer to Talk:Ralph Lane).

However, The Dictionary of National Biography, written in 1909 states, "may probably be identified with Ralph, the second son of Sir Ralph Lane (d.1541) of Horton, Northamptonshire, by Maud daughter and coheiress of William lord Parr of Horton and cousin of Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's last queen. (Collins 1768 iii 164) His seal bore the arms of Lane of Horton (Cal State Papers Ireland 15 March 1598-9), and the arms assigned him by Burke quarter these with those of Maud Parr (General Armoury). In his correspondence, he speaks of nephews William and Robert Lane (Cal State Papers Ireland 26 Dec 1592, 7 June 1595), of a kinsman John Durrant (ib) and is associated with a Mr Feilding (ib 23 June 1593), all of whom appear in the Lane pedigree (Blore Hist. and Antig. of Rutlandshire p 169). William Feilding married Dorothy, a daughter of Sir Ralph Lane of Horton, and John Durrant was the husband of Catherine, her first cousin."[6]

Career[edit]

Lane began serving the Crown in 1563 as an equerry under Queen Elizabeth I of England. His duties as an officer of the royal household included law enforcement and collection of customs duties. He served against the northern rebels in 1569, was commissioner of piracy in 1571 and a captain in the Netherlands in 1572-73.

He was elected Member of Parliament for Higham Ferresr in 1558 and for Northampton in 1563.[7]

Roanoke Colony[edit]

Lane is best remembered for his attempt to establish a settlement on Roanoke Island at the request of Sir Walter Raleigh. Queen Elizabeth was looking for places to colonize and the Americas appeared ripe for English expansion. The voyage began on 9 April 1585, when Lane set sail from Plymouth with Raleigh's cousin, Sir Richard Grenville, a scientist who upon return to England wrote a book about his findings in the Chesapeake. The fleet comprised the Tiger (Grenville's), the Roebuck, the Red Lion, the Elizabeth, and the Dorothy. The voyage on the Tiger proved difficult, as Lane quarrelled with the aggressive leadership of Grenville, whom he found a person of intolerable pride and insatiable ambition ( intolerable pride and ambition unsatiable ). Unfortunately, during a severe storm off the coast of Portugal, Tiger was separated from the rest of the fleet.[8]:57 The Tiger arrived on 11 May to Baye's Muskito [9] (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico). While waiting for the other ships, Grenville established relations with the Spanish (whilst at the same time participating in privateering against their ships) [8] and also built a small fortress. The Elizabeth arrived shortly after construction of the fortress.[10]:91

Finally, Grenville tired of waiting for the remaining ships and departed on 7 June. The fort was abandoned and its location is now unknown. When the Tiger sailed through the Ocracoke Inlet on 26 June, it ran aground on a sand bank, ruining most of the food supply.[8] : 63 The expedition managed to repair the ship, and in early July met with Roebuck and Dorothy, who had come to the Outer Banks a few weeks previously. The Red Lion had accompanied them, but just landed its passengers and went to Newfoundland for privateering.[8]:64 After an initial exploration of the continental coast and its Indian settlements, the natives of one village Aquascogoc were accused of stealing a silver cup and in retaliation the village was looted and burned.[8]:72

Despite this incident and the lack of food, Lane and 107 other settlers were left on Roanoke Island, Virginia on 17 August 1585 [2][11] to establish a colony on the north end of the island. They built a small fort, probably a structure similar to Guayanilla Bay. Almost immediately, Grenville and crew set sail for England promising to return in April 1586 with more men and fresh supplies.[11] Contact was quickly made with the local Native Americans. The English treated them with suspicious harshness; on several occasions the colonists kidnapped Indians to extract supplies or information.

April 1586 passed without news of Grenville and in June the incident of the stolen cup led to an attack on the fort that the settlers were able to repel.[12] : 5. That month Sir Francis Drake arrived at Roanoke and offered Lane and his men a return voyage to England that Lane readily accepted on account of a weakened food supply and increased tensions with local tribes. Drake's fleet reached the port of Portsmouth on 28 July, after which the settlers of Roanoke introduced snuff, corn and potatoes to England.[12] : 5 The Account of Ralph Lane first appeared in Richard Hakluyt's Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation in 1589.

The Grenville relief fleet arrived shortly after Drake's departure with the settlers. Finding the colony abandoned, Grenville returned to England with the bulk of his force, leaving behind a small detachment, both to maintain a British presence to protect Raleigh's claim in Virginia.

Lane later participated in other expeditions. In January 1592 he was appointed muster-master general of Ireland and was knighted the following year by Sir William FitzWilliam, the Lord Deputy of Ireland.

Death[edit]

In a 1594, Lane was severely wounded during an Irish rebellion against the Crown. He never fully recovered and died in 1603. He was buried in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982. Lane, Ralph (c.1532-1603), of London
  2. ^ a b Sir Ralph Lane, 1530-1603, Raleigh's First Roanoke Colony, Boston: Directors of the Old South Work, 1902, Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina Library, accessed 17 Jan 2010
  3. ^ Oxford University Press. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press
  4. ^ "RALPH LANE". NC Office of Archives and History, 2006. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  5. ^ "RALPH LANE". NC Office of Archives and History, 2006. Retrieved 2012-07-15. 
  6. ^  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1892). "Lane, Ralph". Dictionary of National Biography 32. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 77. 
  7. ^ "LANE, Ralph (c.1528-1603), of London Glendon, Northants. Dublin.". History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Quinn, David B. (February 1985). Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606. UNC Press Books. ISBN 9780807841235. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "Teacher Handbook to Roanoke Revisited". Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. National Park Service. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Milton, Giles (2001-10-19). Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312420185. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  11. ^ a b Lane, Ralph. "The Account by Ralph Lane. An account of the particularities of the imployments of the English men left in Virginia by Richard Greenevill under the charge of Master Ralph Lane Generall of the Same, from the 17. of August 1585. Until the 18. of June 1586. They departed at which time the Countrey; sat and directed to Sir Walter Ralegh.". Old South Leaflets (General Series), No. 119. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  12. ^ a b Fleming, Walter Lynwood (1909). The South in the Building of the Nation: History of the States. The Southern historical society publication. Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
Preceded by
none
Governor of Roanoke Colony
1585–1586
Succeeded by
John White