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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Virginia"Sir Walter Raleigh- the True and Lively." Engraving, no date. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

Virginia was the name applied to that part of the New World granted to Sir Walter Raleigh by England's Queen Elizabeth I, the "virgin queen." It appears for the first time on the seal issued to Raleigh as "Lord and Governor of Virginia" at some unspecified date prior to 25 Mar. 1585. He was entitled to discover, hold, and occupy "such remote heathen and barbarous landes . . . not actually possessed of any Christian Prynce and inhabited by Christian people." Raleigh based exploratory expeditions in and attempted to colonize the area of coastal North America that is now North Carolina. His men also ranged northward into the Chesapeake Bay. Even though Raleigh's attempts were unsuccessful, the name "Virginia" became attached to newer colonization efforts that resulted in the establishment of Jamestown in 1607. The site of the 1584-90 activity came to be called "Ould Virginia."





Philip L. Barbour, ed., The Complete Works of Captain John Smith (1580-1631), vol. 2 (1986).

David B. Quinn, ed., The Roanoke Voyages, vol. 1 (1955).

Additional Resources:

Sir Walter Raleigh Collection at UNC Chapel Hill Libraries:

North Carolina/Virginia, NC Historical Marker A-35, NC Office of Archives & History:

First English Colonies, NC Historical Marker B-1, NC Office of Archives & History:

Image Credit:

"Sir Walter Raleigh- the True and Lively." Engraving, no date. Image courtesy of Library of Congress. Available from (accessed August 21, 2012).


Origin - location: 

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