“Baptism of Virginia Dare,” William A. Crafts, lithograph, 1876.
On August 18, 1587, Virginia Dare was the first child born to English parents in the New World, just fifteen days after the colonists had arrived. Her family was part of 120 English men and women to settle on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina.
Virginia’s mother, Eleanor White Dare, was the daughter of John White, governor of the Roanoke Island colony organized by Sir Walter Raleigh. Ananias Dare, Virginia’s father, was one of Governor White’s assistants.
The baby’s christening on August 24 was actually the second one observed in the colony. The first occurred eleven days earlier when a local Algonquian Indian named Manteo converted to Christianity and was baptized. His was the first recorded admission of a North American Indian to the Church of England.
The colony’s governor – Virginia’s grandfather – left for England soon after she was born, in an attempt to secure more financial and material resources for the settlement. At the time Governor White arrived in England, he found the country to be at war, threatened by Spain. Due to the pressing need for ships to defend against the Spanish Armada, White was unable to return until three years later. When he finally returned to Roanoke Island, there was no trace of the colony or its inhabitants.
Exactly what happened to Virginia Dare and the other settlers is a mystery. Were they kidnapped or killed by Indians? Only one clue was found: the word Croatan had been carved on one of the settlement’s posts, leading some historians to believe they went to live with the Croatan Indian tribe on what is now Hatteras Island. Another theory is that the Spanish destroyed the colony, and still others think they may have moved further inland.
Roanoke Island became known as the Lost Colony. The name Virginia Dare came to symbolize innocence and purity, promise and hope. Many places in North Carolina and elsewhere in the Southern United States have been named in her honor. Today, North Carolinians commemorate annually the birth of Virginia Dare. Residents of Roanoke Island celebrate Virginia Dare’s birthday each year with an Elizabethan Renaissance fair.
For more information, read:
Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony: Fact and Legend, by Sandra Boyd, North Carolina Museum of History.
What Happened To Virginia Dare? From Darren Smith, former About.com Guide.
New clue to mystery of lost Roanoke colony, FoxNews.com, May 7, 2012 – A 425-year-old map of Roanoke island may hold a clue to the fate of the colony.
The History of the Roanoke Colony in Colonial America – Become an expert about the history of the Colony of Roanoke by reading interesting and important facts about the Roanoke Colony and what happened to the Roanoke Colony on KidInfo.com’s Roanoke Resource Page.