Raleigh, Walter, Sir (1552 -1618)
Walter Raleigh was the younger son of Walter Raleigh of Fardell near Plymouth and Hayes Barton in Devon, and his third wife, Katherine, daughter of Sir Philip Champernowne of Modbury, and widow of Otho Gilbert. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and was in residence in 1572, but his date of matriculation is not known. In 1569 he was in France as a volunteer in the Huguenot army, and was probably in the South of France at the time of the massacre of St Bartholomew. In 1577 he was in Islington, and seems to have been a hanger on at court. After a period with the English forces in Ireland he returned to the Court, and in 1581 attracted the attention of Queen Elizabeth, and at once became a favourite. He received many grants from the royal hand, including the monopoly on sweet wines, and was knighted in 1584. In 1586 he was appointed Captain of the Queen's Guard. He obtained a patent for discovery and settlement in America, and made several attempts to found a colony at Virginia, all of which ultimately failed, though one result was the introduction of potatoes and tobacco into England. He was not allowed to accompany any of the expeditions, for as Captain of the Queen's Guard, he was refused leave of absence. In 1592 he was imprisoned in the Tower for his intrigue with Elizabeth Frogmorton, one of the Queen's Maids of Honour. They married in the autumn of that year, and were forbidden to return to Court. They retired to Sherborne, where he bought and restored the castle and built a magnificent house nearby. In 1595 he sailed from Plymouth with five ships, with the intention of finding the town of Manoa in “Guiana” i.e. on the River Orinoco in modern Venezuala. He penetrated some way up the river, but finding no city, returned empty handed. Being doubted on his return to London, he wrote his Discoverie of Guiana, which was published in London in 1596. In June 1596 he commanded the van in the expedition against Cadiz. In September 1600 he was appointed Governor of Jersey. Raleigh however had powerful enemies, and when James I, to whom Raleigh had been maligned, came to the throne, he was removed from his post as Captain of the Guard, and all his other royal employments, ordered to vacate Durham House, and shortly afterwards sent to the Tower on suspicion of High Treason. He was tried, and condemned to death but not executed. An account of his library during his imprisonment is given in an article by Walter Oakeshott. His imprisonment lasted until 1616, when he was released on his request to lead another expedition to the Orinoco. This expedition, too, was unsuccessful, and as a consequence, the former sentence was carried out after a summary enquiry. In 1603 Sir Walter Raleigh gave £50 to the Bodleian Library in Oxford. He is described in the Benefactors' Register as Governor of Jersey, an office to which he had been appointed in September 1600, but of which he was deprived in 1603. His gift must therefore have been made early in 1603. It was used to buy some seventy two works, and on these the Library had stamps 1, 2 or 3 impressed in gold or silver. Stamp 4 was apparently used by Sir Walter himself.