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Biography of Sir Walter Raleigh by Christopher Smith

S I R      W A L T E R
 R A L E I G H
Part 1: Family Background

East Budleigh (Devon)

Sir Walter Raleigh, a son of East Devon, was born at Hayes Barton in East Budleigh, probably in 1554. Unfortunately, the parish register begins in April 1555. The Raleighs were leading Protestants who used the new English Prayer Book. They saw the Vicar of St Thomas's in Exeter hanged from his church tower and had visited Agnes Prest before she was burned to death in Exeter during 'Bloody' Queen Mary's reign. Raleigh's father, Walter Senior, had moved east from Fardell, on the edge of Dartmoor, upon his marriage to Joan Drake, a distant relative of the famous sailor, Sir Francis. Joan came from Exmouth, south of Exeter, near where Walter owned the manors of Collaton Raleigh and Wythecombe Raleigh. He leased Hayes Barton, a large house and estate nearby and set up as a gentleman farmer. From here he ran his growing business and the Raleighs soon owned the grazing rights on both Lympstone and Woodbury Commons. Sadly, in 1530, Joan died and was buried in East Budleigh Church. Walter Senior entered into a short-lived marriage to the daughter of a Genoese merchant, but was later joined with a third wife named Katherine Champernowne. Katherine had previously been married to Otto Gilbert of Compton Castle (near Paignton in Devon) and was the mother of John, Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert. Her brother was Vice-Admiral of Devon and her aunt had held the robe for Princess Elizabeth at her christening and later became her tutor. Katherine bore her new husband a daughter and two more sons: Carew and their youngest, Walter.

Part 2: Study & Youthful Experiences    Copyright ©1999, LLC
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