Keswick - Lake District
Copyright Marcus Roberts (with additional material by Dr Yaakov Wise (also with special thanks to Ian Tyler for his expertise on local mining history)


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Gaunse in America and afterwards

Sir Francis Walsingham decided it would be wise to use Gaunse's expertise in a new venture so he suggested (ordered?) him to join Sir Walter Raleigh's second expedition to found an English colony in North America in 1585. Gaunse reached America in the summer of 1585 aboard one of Raleigh's ships under the command of Sir Richard Grenville. On 26th June he arrived at the barrier islands near Cape Hatteras in what is today the State of North Carolina. On 29th June the pilot of the flagship, the Tyger, tried to get her to a safe harbour in the sound beyond the outward islands. The inlet was too shallow, however, and the ship ran aground. To set her free the crew had to jettison valuable provisions, including apparently some of Gaunse's heavy technological equipment.

Meanwhile Gaunse accompanied the English who spent most of July in smaller vessels exploring the coastal islands and the adjacent mainland of what they called Virginia in honour of Queen Elizabeth I. They traveled about 80 miles south to the Pamlico River. Finally, on 27th July, they found a passable inlet for the Tyger through the chain of islands known as the Outer Banks. Immediately they began to build a fort and settlement on Roanoke Island, which is situated within the sound about equal distance from the barrier islands and the mainland and is about 10 miles long and one to three miles wide. This settlement established Gaunse as the first observant Jew (other than Marranos in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies) to live in the 'new world.'

Gaunse set up the first scientific centre in the Americas when he constructed his surviving assaying and distilling equipment on the north eastern tip of Reonoque Island in what is today the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Here he established a centre to test the country's minerals and metals as well as to analyse the native Americans' copper products. The would-be colonists had a very bad time of it, and when the fleet of Sir Francis Drake arrived close by, the colonists accepted a lift home and Gaunse set sail for England on 18th or 19th June 1586. The expedition had lasted less than twelve months and by September 1586 Gaunse was back in England supervising operations in South Wales and the south west. He spent the next three years employed by the crown through the Society of the Mines Royal. The site of Gaunse's sojourn in America is now preserved as the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, at Manteo, North Carolina.

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