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Christopher Carleill
Christopher Carleill.

ABANDONMENT OF THE COLONY. Meanwhile, Grenville was delayed in leaving England for the supply of the Roanoke colony. This placed the colonists in a desperate predicament. Such was the state of affairs at Roanoke Island when, on June 9, 1586, Captain Stafford brought news of the fact that Sir Francis Drake was off the coast with a mighty fleet of 23 ships. Richly laden with booty from his attack on the Spanish West Indies and Florida, Drake's fleet anchored next day partly in the port near Roanoke Island (probably Port Ferdinando) and partly in a "wilde roade" at sea 2 miles from the shore. Second in command to Drake on this expedition was Capt. Christopher Carleill, Secretary Walsingham's stepson and son-in-law, who had been interested in American exploration since 1574. Lane and some of his company went on board Drake's flagship, and Drake made them a generous offer. He would give them a ship, one or two pinnaces, a number of smaller boats, and sufficient ship masters, sailors, and supplies to afford another month's stay at Roanoke and a return voyage to England, or he would give them all immediate return passage to England with his fleet. To Lane's credit it must be said that he was loath to give up the Roanoke Island project. He accepted the first offer, and the ship was turned over to him; but before the supplies could be made ready, a storm arose and the ship was blown out to sea and did not return. The fleet suffered other losses in this storm, but Drake remained open handed. He offered Lane supplies as before and another ship, but since this vessel was much too large to be kept in Lane's only harbor, its acceptance, and dependence on it, involved a great risk.

This fact, the troubled state of Europe and America, making war with Spain now practically inevitable, and the unaccountable delay in the arrival of Grenville's supply fleet caused Lane to ask for passage to England. When Drake sailed, on June 18, he carried the colonists home with him.


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