Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Raleigh, Sib Walter (1552-1018), discoverer and historian, was born in Devonshire of an ancient but reduced family. In his 17th year he became one of the volunteer troop which was then sent into France, and served there for about five years, afterwards going to the Netherlands, where he also won distinction as a soldier. In 1579 he accompanied his half-brother, Humphry Gilbert, in a colonising expedition to North America, but returned very soon, as the project was not successful. We next find him in Ireland, where his bravery and success in crushing the rebellions of the south procured him the appointment of Governor of Cork and to the supreme command in Munster. Here he met Spenser, the poet, who had written some of his Fairy Queen, which Raleigh admired so much that he induced its author to go to London and publish it, which was accordingly done. In Munster, Raleigh acted with severity, but was not peculiar in that respect. About 1583 he returned to England, where he was received at court, the queen being charmed by his gallant bearing and fascinating manners. He speedily became a favourite, and was permitted to make a second expedition to North America with his half-brother, and in this journey made many discoveries, besides founding a colony in that portion of the country named by him Virginia, in honour of Elizabeth. On his return he brought with him the potato and tobacco plant, by which he is probably best known to the world. He received knighthood from the queen, some large sums of money, and various tracts of land in Ireland. In 1584 he was elected a member of Parliament, representing Dorset. When the Armada threatened England Raleigh took a prominent part in the victories obtained over the Spaniards. Appointed a gentleman of the privy chamber, he soon after fell into disgrace, through his attachment to the daughter of Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. He was imprisoned for a time, but married the lady of his choice, who was one of the queen's maids of honour. His next notable exploit was the help he rendered in the discovery of Guiana, and he also inflicted several further defeats on the Spaniards. His history of the discovery of Guiana is excellent, and was much esteemed by his contemporaries for its style. Besides his reputation as a courtier and soldier, he had slowly acquired fame as a writer. In 1596 he was one of those instrumental in the capture of Cadiz, and soon after was re-established in the queen's favour. He was made ambassador to Flanders in 1600, and was offered the viceroyaliy of Ireland, which he refused. His enemies induced James I. to believe that he was conspiring to remove him from the throne, and he was imprisoned in the Tower for more than twelve years, during which he wrote his admirable History of the World. He was released in 1616, but did not receive a pardon, and as he again attacked the Spaniards, then at peace with England, he was tried for the offence and condemned to death. He met his fate calmly, being beheaded on October 29th, 1618. Ben Jonson, perhaps not unjustly, described him as esteeming glory more than conscience.