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PinkMonkey Study Guide - American History

2. 2 The first English settlements

The first English settlement in North America was Jamestown, in Virginia. Established in 1607, it was governed by a British governor and the House of Burgesses. The House of Burgesses was an assembly of merchants and other influential men, elected by the people of the settlement.

The Lost Colony

When the first settlements began to be set up by the English, not all met with success. For instance, the ’lost colony’, an English settlement established in 1587 on Roanoke Island, (off the coast of what is now North Carolina, U.S.A.) just disappeared with no traces. Till date no one knows what happened to the people as where they went. The lost colony was England’s second colony on Roanoke Island, America. The first colony set up by Sir Walter Raleigh was supposed to serve as a base for repairing and re-supplying English Warships. The colonists discovered that seas around the island were too shallow to provide shelter to ships. Moreover, the land was not too productive to support a colony. So the colonists had to return to England in 1586. Meanwhile, a group of ships sent by Raleigh from England set sail for the Islands. When these ships with supplies and fresh colonists reached the island, the earlier colonists had already left. As a result, the second group of colonists also headed back to England. Some persons remained on the island. In May 1587, Raleigh sent another group of colonists to America to settle on the shores of Chesapeake Bay. John White led them. Instead of reaching Chesapeake Bay, the colonists were forced to land at Roanoke Islands. This group consisted of 117 people - 91 men, 17 women and 9 children.

In August, when White returned to England for fresh supplies war between Spain and England broke out. The war prevented White from returning to Roanoke Island until 1590. When he arrived at there, the colony had already been abandoned. No European ever saw the lost colonists again. Although there is no proof, some people believe that the colonists may have married into an Indian tribe and so may have gone into oblivion. This theory supported by the fact that the word: ’CROATOAN’ was carved on a tree near the settlement. The Croatoans were Indians living on the island, who were friendly with the colonists.

The pilgrims, who landed at Plymouth, set up the second settlement (Massachusetts) in 1620. The others in the group of Puritans in the New World established the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Boston in 1630.

The pilgrims had to flee their homes in Europe, because of religious persecution. They were part of a large religious group called the Puritans. The Puritans were a Christian religious group, which opposed the hierarchy and elaborate rituals of the Church. They wanted to purify the Church. Thus the name: Puritans. When Oliver Cromwell came to power in Britain (between the years 1640 to 1656), the Puritans gained ascendancy in Britain. But prior to this period, and immediately after, Puritan persecution was rampant in England.

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Table of Contents

2.0 - Chronology of Major Events in this Period
2.1 - Colonies in America
2.2 - The First English settlement
2.3 - Puritan Influence on the early American Society
2.4 - Colonies Versus Britain
2.5 - Points to Remember

Chapter 3


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