Sir Walter Raleigh Timeline
Timeline Description: Sir Walter Raleigh was an English explorer, soldier, writer and aristocrat. He experienced periods of royal favor and disgrace, before eventually being executed for treason. He is also well known for popularizing tobacco in England.

Date Event
1552 Walter Raleigh is born (1552 or 1554).

Walter Raleigh is the youngest of five sons born to Catherine Champernowne at the time of her second marriage, to Walter Raleigh Senior. The well-connected family lives in a farmhouse in the Devonshire countryside, England.
1569 Raleigh serves in the French Huguenot army.

Little is known about Raleigh's early life, but he is thought to have followed his half-brother into the Huguenot army and he claims to be an eye-witness at famous battles in France.
1575 Raleigh returns to England.

Raleigh returns to England and enrolls at Oxford University, although it is unclear whether or not he completes his course.
1578 Raleigh sails to America.

Raleigh and his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert sail to America. The short trip inspires his future plans for colonization.
1579 Raleigh serves in the British army (1579-83).

Raleigh enlists in the British army and serves in Ireland. He is noted for his ruthless suppression of the Desmond Rebellions, particularly at the siege of Smerwick. He is rewarded with 40,000 acres of land, seized from the defeated Irish in Munster.
1584 Raleigh attempts colonization.

Raleigh establishes the first English colony in America on Roanoke Island. It is funded by Raleigh and his friends, but proves unsustainable. Another attempt three years later similarly fails.
1585 Raleigh is knighted.

Raleigh earns favor with fellow Protestant, Queen Elizabeth I, when fighting in Ireland. As well as receiving confiscated land, Raleigh is given trade privileges and a knighthood in 1585. He is also made captain of the Queen's Guard two years later.
1587 Raleigh names land in North America 'Virginia'.

With funding from the Queen, Raleigh explores land from North Carolina to present-day Florida. He names the region Virginia in honor of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen.
1588 Raleigh fights against the Spanish Armada.

Raleigh is involved in the English victory over the Spanish Armada after his boat is bought by the Queen and renamed the Ark Royal.
1591 Raleigh marries Elizabeth 'Bess' Throckmorton.

Raleigh meets one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, Elizabeth Throckmorton. She is eleven years his junior, but in 1591 the two marry in secret as she is pregnant. When the Queen learns of the unauthorized marriage the following year, they are imprisoned in the Tower of London.
1592 Raleigh moves to Dorset.

After his release from prison, Raleigh quickly returns to royal favor and is given the estate of Sherborne in Dorset. Raleigh writes poetry and raises his family here-the first child dies early from the plague, but the couple later have two boys, Walter and Carew, and a daughter Elizabeth who also dies in infancy.
1594 Raleigh searches for the fabled City of Gold (1594-1596).

Raleigh hears about a City of Gold in South America in 1594. The following year he explores present-day Venezuela without success. His published tales of the expedition, The Discovery of Guiana, contribute to the legend of El Dorado.
1597 Raleigh sits in parliament (1597-1603).

Raleigh is chosen as a member of parliament for Dorset and Cornwall. As Governor of the Channel Island of Jersey at the turn of the century, he modernizes its defenses.
July 19, 1603 Raleigh is imprisoned again.

Queen Elizabeth dies in 1603 and her successor, King James I, accuses Raleigh of treason. Raleigh is tried and found guilty for plotting against the King, but is spared the death sentence, instead being imprisoned for life.
1603 Raleigh writes while in prison (1603-16).

Raleigh writes the first volume of The History of the World during his time in the Tower of London. His tales of ancient Greek and Roman history are published posthumously in 1628.
1616 Raleigh is released.

Raleigh is released from prison in 1616 to lead a second expedition to Venezuela. The trip is unsuccessful and his men unlawfully attack a Spanish settlement. Raleigh's son, Walter, is fatally shot and Raleigh's death sentence is reinstated on his return to England.
October 29, 1618 Raleigh is executed.

Raleigh is beheaded at the Palace of Westminster on October 29, 1618. His head is embalmed and presented to his wife, while his body is laid to rest in St. Margaret's, Westminster.