The Roanoke Voyages (1584-1590), First of Five Roanoke Voyages with Emphasis on Geographic Naming – Part 2

The third segment of a guest blog post series by Roger L. Payne, author of The Outer Banks Gazetteer: The History of Place Names from Carova to Emerald Isle. Click here to view Roger Payne’s entire guest blog series.

A continuation of the incidents and information regarding the first Roanoke Voyage.

It cannot be confirmed that Amadas and Barlowe did or did not stop at Ocracoke Island on their voyage of reconnoiter as Amadas’ logs are not clear on the matter. However, reports exist that a member of the party named Richard Butler, in his deposition to the Spanish 12 years after the voyage, claimed “[W]e disembarked in central Florida at a place called Ococa, so named by the nature of the country. Twenty Leagues further on, toward the northern part we disembarked again in another place known to the English as Puerto Fernando and to the savages as Ataurras.” This leads Quinn (1971) to suggest Ococa refers to Ocracoke and Puerto Fernando to Hatarask (area just south of present Oregon Inlet) with Ataurras likely being a phonetic rendition of Hatarask. It is unclear why the generic Puerto was used by Butler since Fernandes was Portuguese and would have used Porto, but perhaps it was in deference to Fernándes’ training in Spain or because Butler was giving his deposition to the Spanish. Butler’s reference to central Florida is plausible because then the English applied the name Florida to anything Spanish in coastal North America. Twenty leagues would be approximately 60 miles, which would be almost to former Gunt Inlet (Port Ferdinando just north of Oregon Inlet). If this is so, it implies the inlet was named Port Ferdinando in 1584, during the 1st Roanoke Voyage, and it, rather than Trinety Harbor, might have been the one used by Amadas and Barlowe when encountering indigenous peoples at Roanoke Island. The inlet was named for Simon Fernándes, Portuguese pilot on the first, second, and fourth Roanoke voyages, and importantly was the first English place name given in what is now the United States (inlets for a short time used Port as the generic term because at that time it referred to anywhere that ships could ride at anchor in relative safety). However, Butler’s deposition was not given until 1596, so possibly he was citing the place (inlet) but named later, possibly referring to having been labeled on the later version of White’s map (date unknown). In fact, Port Ferdinando, is shown on White’s map (1585) and the numerous versions of De Bry’s map of 1590, but without any name. Indeed, this seems more likely, as it remains unclear if the English visited this inlet in 1584 (Port Ferdinando and referred to incorrectly by many researchers as Hatarask). The reference Hatarask appears on White’s 1585 map considerably south of the inlet’s location suggesting that the island or area was referred to (by indigenous peoples) as Hataraske and the inlet was unnamed. Further, the label Hataraske had been shifted northward on De Bry’s 1590 map accounting for many authors mistakenly using this name for the inlet that was, in fact, named Port Ferdinando. Also, Cape Kenrick (now Wimble Shoals just east of Rodanthe) was a major feature impeding closely following the coast and could have been a factor for missing the inlet. So, still not clear whether Port Ferdinando was named during the 1stRoanoke Voyage (Amadas and Barlowe, with Butler) or on the 2nd Roanoke Voyage (Grenville – 1585). Amadas’ logs are less clear on the initial entry, and unfortunately no directional references are in the logs. Butler’s deposition is vague and often contradictory, Quinn (1985) believes from Amadas and Barlowe’s log they must have encountered the inlet at the north tip of Hatarask, but the comments are vague and could have been Trinety Harbor (at what is now northern Duck; known notto have been named until the second Roanoke Voyage). Butler then indicates later from Hatarask they “moved 12 leagues to the north and found a port… which the savages call Ca-cho Peos… and these savages were enemies of those at Puerto Fernando [Hatarask].” Twelve leagues (about 35 miles) would be just beyond former Trinety Harbor (just north of Duck) from Port Ferdinando, further supporting that location possibly being the entry used by Amadas and Barlowe (1584). On the other hand, the reference to Ca-cho Peos strongly suggests mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, another 30 leagues (90 miles) from Hatarask, but known not to have been visited by Amadas and Barlowe. Amadas’ log is inconclusive regarding naming of Port Ferdinando (Gunt Inlet near present Oregon Inlet), and neither his log nor Butler’s later deposition provide the definitive location of the initial entry inlet on this first Roanoke Voyage. Further and importantly, there is an historical marker at the site (maintained by The North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program) that suggests no proof one way or the other, and indeed, indicates “Roanoke Voyages 1585–1590,” thereby discounting Amadas and Barlowe’s 1584 voyage visiting this location. The accompanying essay at the historical marker program indicates “considerable doubt exists as to the course followed by expedition scouts Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe in 1584…”  and continues indicating “Not until July 27 (1585) did (Sir Richard) Grenville anchor at Hatoraske, off the barrier island, a short distance southeast of Roanoke Island. Here at a break in the barrier reef, almost due east of the southern tip of Roanoke Island, Simon Ferdinando [sic] discovered a “port,” named Port Ferdinando in his honor and considered the best port along that stretch of coast.” So, researchers at the North Carolina Historical Marker Program seem convinced that the initial inlet of entry was not Port Ferdinando, and that the inlet was not named until the second voyage in 1585.

When Amadas and Barlowe returned to England they had “invited” two Native Americans, Manteo (Croatoan or Hatteras Indians) and Wanchese (Roanoke Tribe at Roanoke Island). While in England, Wanchese became suspicious of the English and became uncooperative and left the English upon his return to Roanoke during the second Roanoke Voyage with Captain Grenville, April 19, 1585, and later caused trouble for future colonists while Manteo remained friendly and provided assistance to colonists. Manteo was knighted for his efforts as Lord of Roanoke the first English titled granted in the New World. 

Roger L. Payne is executive secretary emeritus of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names.