The Roanoke Colony, also known as the Lost Colony, established on Roanoke Island, in what is today's Dare County, North Carolina, United States, was a late 16th-century attempt by Queen Elizabeth I to establish a permanent English settlement. The enterprise was originally financed and organized by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who drowned in 1583 during an aborted attempt to colonize St. John's, Newfoundland. Sir Humphrey Gilbert's half-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, later gained his brother's charter from the Queen and subsequently executed the details of the charter through his delegates Ralph Lane and Richard Grenville, Raleigh's distant cousin.
The final group of colonists disappeared during the Anglo-Spanish War, three years after the last shipment of supplies from England. Their disappearance gave rise to the nickname "The Lost Colony".
To this day there has been no conclusive evidence as to what happened to the colonists.
The only clue was the word "Croatoan" carved into a post of the fence around the village and "Cro" carved into a nearby tree. All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled, which meant their departure had not been hurried. Before he left the colony, White instructed them that if anything happened to them, they should carve a Maltese cross on a tree nearby, indicating their disappearance had been forced. As there was no cross, White took this to mean they had moved to "Croatoan Island" (now known as Hatteras Island), but he was unable to conduct a search. A massive storm was forming and his men refused to go any farther; the next day they left
Five Popular Theories:
1. The people of Roanoke simply left the settlement.
This is one of the more probable theories. It is said that they have supposedly left Roanoke island and started settling in the Chesapeake Bay. And that they built rafts or a boat of some sort using materials torn apart from their houses. Close to twenty years had passed before John Smith and his group started the well-known settlement of Jamestown (where the popular story of Pocahontas takes place). This settlement was near the Chesapeake Bay. The evidence in this tale is that the ruler of the natives did indeed admit to killing the colonists. They said that they had been in their land (Chesapeake Bay area) and were then annihilated to prevent more English settlers form stealing their land.
2.The whole population of Roanoke Island was killed by a disease.
This is an absurd theory. It is true that the English had brought over some diseases. However, note, there were no bodies found and the houses had disappeared. Quite a ridiculous theory.
3. The village was destroyed by a severe storm such as a hurricane.
Another one of the incredulous theories. A hurricane could have washed away the colonists and destroyed the houses, true. But the huge problem with this theory is the fence was still standing. It is not possible for a storm to do as much damage as clearing away the whole settlement when the fence remained untouched.
4. The people of Roanoke decided to leave Roanoke Island to live with the Natives.
This theory is definitely probable. Crotoan, which was carved on the post, was the name of an island in the area. It was also the name of the group of the kind natives that inhabited it. It is possible that they colonists decided to live with the natives of Croatoan. Though there has not been a descent amount of evidence to prove this theory, there also has been no evidence against it.
5. The colonists were killed by the Native Americans
This is the most probable of all five theories. One important fact supports this theory. As one may not know, the English men had before tried to start the colony of Roanoke before. Twas a group of fifteen men. A little over a year had passed since they first started the colony, before explorers decided to check up on their hopeful progress. What these explorers found was one dead body. It was verified that it was the work of the Natives. From this past event we know that the Natives were capable of such atrocities and also capable of hiding the bodies. What’s interesting is that the Natives pulled all of that off in between less than a two year period. While the “lost colony” had been deprived of its leader for a number of three years. The “Indians” had a sufficient amount of time to tear down the buildings too. However there has still not been enough evidence to verify this theory.