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Lot number: 39965
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Publisher: HOUBRAKEN, J.
Title: Sr Walter Ralegh.
Published: London, John and Paul Knapton, 1743

Size: 14.6 x 8.9 inches.
37.0 x 22.7 cm.
Colouring: Uncoloured.
Condition:  In good condition. Dark impression.
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Copper engraved portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (ca. 1554 1618) by Jacob Houbraken (1698 1780), from Thomas Birch's "The Heads of Ilustrious Persons of Great Britain".

Sir Walter Raleigh was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.
Raleigh was born to a Protestant family in Devon, the son of Walter Raleigh and Catherine Champernowne. Little is known for certain of his early life, though he spent some time in Ireland, in Killua Castle, Clonmellon, County Westmeath, taking part in the suppression of rebellions and participating in the Siege of Smerwick. Later he became a landlord of properties confiscated from the Irish rebels.
He rose rapidly in Queen Elizabeth I's favour, and was knighted in 1585. He was involved in the early English colonisation of Virginia under a royal patent. In 1591 he secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, without the Queen's permission, for which he and his wife were sent to the Tower of London. After his release, they retired to his estate at Sherborne, Dorset.

In 1594 Raleigh heard of a "City of Gold" in South America and sailed to find it, publishing an exaggerated account of his experiences in a book that contributed to the legend of "El Dorado". After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603 Raleigh was again imprisoned in the Tower, this time for allegedly being involved in the Main Plot against King James I, who was not favourably disposed toward him. In 1616 he was released to lead a second expedition in search of El Dorado. This was unsuccessful and men under his command ransacked a Spanish outpost. He returned to England and, to appease the Spanish, was arrested and executed in 1618.

Raleigh's plan in 1584 for colonisation in the "Colony and Dominion of Virginia" (which included the present-day states of North Carolina and Virginia) in North America ended in failure at Roanoke Island, but paved the way for subsequent colonies. His voyages were funded primarily by himself and his friends, and never provided the steady stream of revenue necessary to start and maintain a colony in America. (Subsequent colonisation attempts in the early 17th century were made under the joint-stock Virginia Company, which was able to collect the capital necessary to create successful colonies.)
In 1587, Raleigh attempted a second expedition, again establishing a settlement on Roanoke Island. This time, a more diverse group of settlers was sent, including some entire families, under the governance of John White. After a short while in America, White was recalled to England to find more supplies for the colony. He was unable to return the following year as planned, however, because the Queen had ordered that all vessels remain at port for potential use against the Spanish Armada. The threat of the Armada was only partially responsible for delaying White's return until 1590. After England's victory over the Spanish fleet in 1588, the ships were given permission to sail. Unfortunately for the colonists at Roanoke, the small fleet made an excursion toward Cuba. They tried to capture the treasure-laden Spanish merchant ships reported to be proliferate in those waters at that time. White is said to have objected to this unplanned foray, but was helpless to dissuade the crews.
They had been told of the enormous riches to be had by the experienced Portuguese pilot hired by Raleigh to navigate the voyage. It was not until 1590, 3 years later, that the supply vessel arrived at the colony, only to find that all colonists had disappeared.

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