How did Virginia Dare get her name?

Detail of the engraving "Baptism of Virginia Dare" (1880) by Henry Howe.
Baptism of Virginia Dare

In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I of England granted Sir Walter Raleigh a charter for the colonization of a section of North America. In honor of the “Virgin Queen,” the settlement would be called the Colony of Virginia.

Raleigh sent several expeditions to the New World over the next few years. One of the expeditions, which arrived at Roanoke Island on July 22, 1587, included a group of 120 English settlers. Among these settlers were married couple Ananias and Eleanor Dare, who were expecting a baby at the time.

Their baby was born less than a month later, on August 18. She was the first child born to English parents in North America.

The following Sunday she was baptized “Virginia” in honor of the Colony of Virginia.

No one knows what became of Virginia Dare or the rest of the English settlers of Roanoke Island, as the site was found to be mysteriously deserted in 1590. But Virginia Dare is well-remembered today thanks to the many places and products that have since been named after her, such Dare County, North Carolina — the present-day location of Roanoke Island.


  • Virginia Dare – Wikipedia
  • Williams, Henry Smith. The Historians’ History of the World. vol. XXII. London: Hooper and Jackson, Ltd., 1908.

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