Sir Richard Grenville, naval commander, coloniser and treasure seeker, brought a Native American to Bideford in 1588.

Sir Richard Grenville, naval commander and coloniser, brought the man to Bideford after a raid in America in 1586. He was perhaps the first ‘Native American Indian’ to come to Britain. He was baptized in Bideford in March 1588, with his name recorded as ‘Raleigh, a Wynganditoian’.   

Little is known about ‘Raleigh’, or why Grenville brought him to Bideford with him. It has been suggested that Grenville may have intended to use him for interpretation or as a knowledgeable local guide during future planned trips to Roanoke. 

Raleigh’s death, from influenza, is recorded in the parish register in April 1589.  This is commemorated by a clay plaque in the collection held by the Burton at Bideford (see above) and a commemorative plaque outside St Mary’s Church Bideford.