Sir Walter Raleigh

2018 marks the 400th anniversary of Sir Walter Raleigh’s death in October 1618. Born in the early 1550s, Raleigh was an English mariner, explorer, Member of Parliament, entrepreneur and polymath of the Elizabeth I era.

He was granted a Royal Charter in 1584 to explore the New World. While campaigning in Ireland, Raleigh became involved in the Munster plantations, an experience that informed subsequent expeditions to the Americas. These established, amongst others, the Roanoke Colony in present-day North Carolina, and led to the pursuit of ‘El Dorado’ – the fabled city of gold – in the Orinoco basin.

Raleigh was also indirectly involved in the Plantation of Virginia in 1609, which was funded by the 56 livery companies of the City of London.

Looking back at his life, achievements and legacies from the viewpoint of this pivotal contemporary moment in UK and US history, Raleigh emerges as one of the great iconic trans-Atlantic entrepreneurial and wealth creating figures of the first Elizabethan era.