William Edward Fitch – Raleigh’s Colony Was Not Lost

Walter Edward Fitch wrote a book in 1913 titled “The First Founders in America, With Facts To Prove That Sir Water Raleigh’s Lost Colony Was Not Lost.”

Fitch believed that the Lost Colony was not lost, but had become the Croatan Indians of that time, today known as the Lumbee.

He sets forth as evidence:

  • Lawson’s 1709 writings about the local Indians saying that their ancestors were white people and could talk in a book.
  • Lawson’s indication that the local Indians had grey eyes where no others did.
  • Nelson’s 1608 Virginia map indicating “11 men clothed that came from Roanoke to Ocanahawan.”
  • Several passages in Smiths’ True Relations where the Jamestown people are provided with information that suggests that the colonist, or at least a few of them, are still alive in various locations.
  • The universal tradition among the Indians in Robeson and Harnet counties that they are the descendants of English people and the Cherokee Indians and that they have always been friendly with the white man, and that they dwelt together along the Neuse River.
  • Hamilton McMillan’s 1888 interview of an aged woman of 90 years (or so) who indicated that her “fathers came from Roanoke in Virginia” and that the colonists were carried to a settlement on the Neuse by a chief named Wyonoke.  The English then      gradually moved westward.
  • Lederer’s reports of “bearded men” in 1669-1670 in the region south of the Roanoke River.
  • Reverend Morgan Jones letter indicating that he was kidnapped in 1686 and found some of the Indians spoke Welsh.
  • Reverend John St. Clair who reports in the Albemarle settlement in 1704 that there is a powerful tribe of no less than 100,000, many of which live amongst the English….a very civilized people.”
  • Scotchmen about 1730 find a large tribe of Indians located on the Lumber River in Robeson County who were tilling the soil, owning slaves and speaking English.
  • That the Croatan Indians believe themselves to be descended from the colonists.
  • That during the Civil War, George Lowrie addressed the people in Robeson County saying that the Indians took the English to live with them and adopted their ways, but were then being treated very poorly.
  • That the language of the Croatan Indians (Lumbee) includes old English words.
  • That the surnames of the Croatan Indians include some of the colonist surnames.

In him summary, Fitch states:

“Smith and Strachey heard that the colonists of 1587 were in the region of the Chowan and Roanoke Rivers about 1607.  The explorers sent out by Raleigh in 1608 and 1610 found that the colony had joined the Croatan Indians and removed first to the Roanoke and then to the interior.  John Lederer heard of them in 1670 and remarked on their beads, which were never worn by a full-blooded Indian.  Rev. John St. Clair heard of them in 1704.  John Lawson met some of the Croatoan Indians about 1709 and was told that their ancestors were white men.  White settlers came into the middle section of North Carolina as early as 1715 and found the ancestors of the present tribe of Croatan Indians tilling the soil, holding slaves and speaking English.  The Croatans of today claim descent from the lost colony.  Their habits, dispositions and mental characteristics show traces both of savage and civilized ancestry.  Their language is the English of 325 years ago and their names are in many cases the same as those borne by the original colonists.  No other theory of their origin has been advanced and it is confidently believed that the one here proposed is logically and historically the best, supported as it is both by external and internal evidence.  If this summing up of the case is rejected, then the Judge and Jury must explain in some other way the origin of an Indian tribe, which after the lapse of 325 years shows the characteristics, speaks the language and possesses the family names of the second English colony planted in the western world.”

Please note that this was written in 1915 when the present day Lumbee Tribe was called the Croatan tribe.

You can download this book for free at:


About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
This entry was posted in Croatan (Later Lumbee), Lost Colony, Lumbee. Bookmark the permalink.

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