The New World Tapestry

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cene Four
         1586 PANEL


This scene shows the panic that sets in when relief supplies arrive late at Roanoke for it must be remembered that not all the 107 men in the colony are there as dedicated settlers. Too many of the company are adventurers seeking to make their fortune when gold or silver sources are discovered or filched from the natives, as in the case of the Spanish in South America. So, as they are of a ‘get rich quick or get out’ mentality, and the days go by without sight of a single English sail on the horizon, doubts about the prospects for the infant settlement grow and grow.

The reason is not that they have been forgotten but with a hold-up in the despatch of ships. Raleigh sends one of his own, a 100-tonner but it doesn’t set  off till late Spring. Grenville’s fleet of three vessels also fails to quit England’s shores until after Easter. The delay is long enough for Lane’s men at Roanoke to lose heart and despair that any supplies will ever be forthcoming, so they are forced to settle down and knuckle down to sowing and planting “and set such things as are necessarie for their reliefe in so plentifull in manner, as might have sufficed them two yeares without any further labor”

But everything changes when on June 10 a number of English ships do arrive. Not Raleigh’s however nor Grenville’s but Drake’s, who has come up from his prosperous sacking of St Domingo, Cartagena and St Augustine’s to see how his countrymen are faring.

“Not good” they tell him “so can you leave us three ships in case we don’t hear from England again. At least we’ll have a chance to escape from the Colony!” Drake agrees but fate intervenes in the shape of a tremendous storm which drives most of his fleet from their anchorages and out to sea.

That does it. The colonists have had enough, it must be a sign from God. They have to get away. Abandoning everything they hasten to the three ships they’ve been allocated and, as is pictured here Drake watches them as they are hauled aboard, counting them in. However three of them can’t be accounted for. They will have to be left behind to fend for themselves…hard luck.

The date is June 10.


tapestry photo 1586 scene four

GOOD KING HENRY   Chenopodium bonus-henricus.  The leaves and young shoots used to be boiled and eaten as a green vegetable. Can still be found on medieval sites.

HAZEL   Corylus avellana.  A hazel-nut in an Irish pocket wards off rheumatism or lumbago, which is an elf-shot disease.

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