Born near Budleigh Salterton in Devon, England. Raleigh's family were fundamentally protestant in religious orientation and had a number of near escapes during the reign of the catholic queen Mary I of England. During childhood, Raleigh developed a hatred of catholicism, and was quick to express it when Elizabeth I came to the throne.
By 1581, after a number of naval engagements, he had become established as a courtier and Elizabeth's favourite.
His position of influence was greatly extended as he became one of Elizabeth's spymasters, along with Thomas Walsingham, and was largely responsible for the uncovering of the Babington Conspiracy, which was a catholic plot to dethrone Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots; as a result of this Elizabeth granted him a 40,000 acre estate in Ireland. Mary was implicated in the Babington Conspiracy and was subsequently executed.
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