Sir Walter Raleigh signed his name many different ways. Once, in 1578, he signed it Rawleyghe. Until 1583 he signed it Rauley. From 1584 until 1618, when he was executed, he signed it Ralegh. Today, people prefer to spell it Raleigh.
He is thought to have been born around 1552 at Hayes Barton, Devonshire, England.
He fought for the Huguenots in 1596.
He privateered with his half brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Privateering is when the queen or king gives permission to seize other ships at sea and take their cargos. It was legal pirating.
Raleigh was one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite courtiers. He was also well known for his writing and poetry.
“On March 25,1584, Raleigh received a patent from the queen granting him title to any lands he might discover and claim in the name of the crown.”
In 1584, Raleigh sent an expedition from Plymouth,England, which was commanded by Phillip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe. They landed off the coast of what is now known as North Carolina, on July 13,1584.When they returned, they brought back two Native Americans named Manteo and Wanchese. As a result of this, Raleigh was knighted on January 6,1585 by Queen Elizabeth I.
Raleigh made Queen Elizabeth mad by secretly marrying Bessie Throckmorton. The queen locked them in the Tower of London. They were released by Christmas.
Raleigh was one of the leaders of a big naval force that fought the Spanish Armada at Cadiz. The English ships defeated the Spanish and won. This made Raleigh a favorite of Elizabeth again.
In 1595 he led an expedition to the Orinoco River in Guyana hoping to find gold mines. The trip was not a success, though a book he wrote about the expedition was.
Raleigh was accused of plotting against the Scottish king, James I who became king after Elizabeth I died. Raleigh was sentenced to be hanged, disemboweled, beheaded and quartered. At the last minute he was reprieved and instead was sentenced to life in the Tower.
In 1618, the King decided to enforce Raleigh's death sentence and he was beheaded. His wife was given his embalmed head and kept it for 29 years until she died. Then his head was buried with his body.