Here is a rough time line of events leading up to the colonists landing on Roanoke Island:
- 1584 – First British exploration of the area (Manteo and Wanchese go to England)
- 1585 – Sir Richard Grenville leads expedition to colonize the island. Grenville attacks a neighboring Indian village (Aquascogoc) over the supposed theft of a silver cup. He then leaves 107 men, under the leadership of Ralph Lane, to establish the colony while he goes back to England for more supplies.
- 1586 – Grenville is delayed getting back to the colony, which is in bad shape due to lack of food and antagonizing the local Indians.
June – Sir Frances Drake comes by the colony and offers to take the surviving colonists back to England. They all go, but 15 of Drake’s men stay.
July – Grenville arrives with the resupply fleet. He finds no one on the island, just one skeleton. He returns to England but a few (13?) hardy souls stay. Wanchese stays and abandons the colonists.
July 22 – White leads expedition that is supposed to establish colony in Chesapeke Bay, only stopping by Roanoke Isle to pick up the men left behind by Grenville. Once he gets there Capt. Simon Fernandez refused to take them any further. Left with no other choice, White lands on the island with 117 colonists. Again they find no one here and see signs that the fort was burned.
Sept/Oct – White heads back to England for more supplies arriving in late Oct. after a perilous journey.
- 1588 – Spanish Armada attacks England. All shipping diverted to help in the defense. White does find 2 small ships (considered unnecessary for the defense of England) and starts back but is captured when the captains try to plunder some Spanish vessels along the way and they lose.
August – White finally returns to Roanoke and finds everyone gone. Only the word Croatoan carved in a tree is found. Storm comes up and forces the fleet to leave, never to return.
??? – The Spanish also find the abandoned colony but don’t pay it much attention as they assumed it was just an outpost of the (non-existent) main colony in Chesapeake Bay.