Walter Ralegh (c. 1552-1618) made colonizing and exploring voyages to North America (1584-1587) and South America in 1595, and naval attacks on Spanish ports.
He was imprisoned by James I 1603-1616 and executed on his return from an unsuccessful final expedition to South America.
Raleigh was born in Devon. He was knighted in 1584, and made several attempts 1584-1587 to establish a colony in "Virginia" (now North Carolina, USA).
In 1595 he led an expedition to South America (described in his Discovery of Guiana) and distinguished himself in expeditions against Spain in Cadiz 1596 and the Azores in 1597. After James I's accession in 1603 he was condemned to death on a charge of conspiracy, but was reprieved and imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he wrote his unfinished History of the World.
Released in 1616 to lead a gold-seeking expedition to the Orinoco River in South America, which failed disastrously, he was beheaded on his return under his former sentence.