The New World Tapestry

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cene Two
    1588-90 PANEL

Though Grenville has been forbidden to take his relief fleet to Roanoke by the Privy Council in London, Governor John White is allowed special permission to take two vessels from Bideford to aid the desperate colonists there. Both of them are small ships. One, the Brave is a bark of 30 tons with Arthur Facy as Captain. Aboard her is White, Pedro Diaz, the pilot who’s been in Grenville’s custody since 1586, seven men and four women new settlers, plus stores of biscuit meal and vegetables for the colonists. The other vessel is the Roe, a pinnace of 25 tons. She too has four or five additional colonists.

The two ships leave Bideford on 22 April in reasonable time to reach Roanoke Island by mid-July. (Bideford bridge is illustrated at the top here). However, despite White’s desperate need to get back and save the colony that has among its pioneers his own daughter and infant granddaughter he has reckoned without Captain Facy, a truly domineering character whose mind is wholly set on indiscriminate prize taking piracy along the way. White is weak. Facy is a man not to be ordered about. It will prove fatal for the relief effort.

So it is not surprising that, only a few days out they board first a Scottish and then a Breton ship, stealing from them then letting them go. Next, from 26 to 29 April they chase two others before the Roe parts company to take a different course to avoid the West Indies.

The Brave sails on alone but soon it’s her turn to be attacked and boarded, this time by two French ships from Rochelle. A fierce fight follows, as shown on the panel here, with many killed or wounded including White till the English surrender. The ship is then looted and damaged beyond immediate repair which forces the survivors to abandon the voyage and limp back to Bideford to be met by the Roe which has also given up the venture. White is distraught.

The abysmal failure will seal the fate of Raleigh’s bid for a colony at Roanoke. Meanwhile England awaits the arrival of the Spanish Armada….

tapestry photo 1588-90 scene two

BRIAR ROSE  Rosa.  ‘The fruit when it is ripe maketh most pleasant meats and banqueting dishes as tarts and suchlike the making thereof I leave to the cunning cooke’. Gerard.

ELDER  Sambucus.  ‘Concerning the faculties of (these) Elders there is nothing found in any writing, neither can we set downe anything hereof of our own knowledge’. Gerard.

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