To rescue the doomed colonists and restore order, the company chose a new leader, Thomas Gates. Nine ships left Plymouth in the summer of 1609—the largest fleet England had ever assembled—and sailed into the teeth of a storm so violent that “it beat all light from Heaven.” The inspiration for Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the hurricane separated the flagship from the fleet, driving it onto reefs off the coast of Bermuda—a lucky shipwreck (all hands survived) which proved the turning point in the colony’s fortune.
The first permanent English settlement in America was Jamestown in Virginia, first settled in 1607. Walter Raleigh was an early promoter of English colonization in Virginia but eventually encountered political problems in England was was beheaded. Roanoke Island was the site of a failed early settlement in Virginia, sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh.