previous next

Lane, Sir Ralph 1530-1604

Colonial governor: born in Northamptonshire, England, about 1530; was son of Sir Ralph Lane, and Maud, daughter of Lord Parr, uncle of Catharine Parr, one of the queens of Henry VIII. He was equerry in the Court of Queen Elizabeth; commanded troops in Ireland, first in 1569, and again in 1583-84; and was sent from England with Sir Richard Granville, by Sir Walter Raleigh, to be governor of Virginia, in 1585. After his return from Virginia he was colonel in the expedition of Norris and Drake against Portugal in 1589, and in 1591 was mustermaster-general in Ireland. He was knighted by the lord-deputy in 1593. Lane's administration as governor of Virginia was fruitless of any good. By following the example of Grenville he exasperated the Indians. Had he been kind and wise the colony might have prospered; but he and his followers were greedy for gold, and only Harriott, the historian, acted like a sensible Christian. Lane had the gold fever severely, and all trusted more to fire-arms than to friendship to secure the good — will of the Indians. Sometimes the latter were treated with cruelty, and a flame of vengeance was kindled and kept alive. The Indians deceived the English with tales of gold-bearing regions near, and that the source of the Roanoke River was among rocks near the Pacific Ocean, where the houses were lined with pearls. Lane explored, found himself deceived, and returned. The Indians, who wanted to have the English dispersed in the forest, so as to exterminate them in detail, were discomfited. They looked with awe upon the English with fire-arms, and, believing more were coming to take their lands away from them, they determined to slay them. Lane, satisfied that there was a wide-spread conspiracy against the colony, struck the first blow. He invited King Wingina and his principal chiefs to a friendly conference. They came, confidingly, without weapons. At a preconcerted signal Lane and his followers fell upon and murdered the king and his companions. Thenceforth both parties stood on the defensive. The condition of the English became desperate. Their supplies became exhausted, and none could be got from the natives; only from the woods and waters could food be obtained. The colony was on the verge of starvation and despair, when Sir Francis Drake, returning from a raid upon Spanish towns, came to Roanoke Island. In his ship the colonists gladly embarked for England. Sir Ralph died in Ireland, in 1604.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1604 AD (2)
1530 AD (2)
1593 AD (1)
1591 AD (1)
1589 AD (1)
1585 AD (1)
1584 AD (1)
1583 AD (1)
1569 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: