The arms of Raleigh applied to the interior of the cover of the casket would appear to have been cut from a larger object. The fine gauge of the silver sugggests that is once formed part of the cresting of a silver-mounted toilet mirror or perhaps more probably a book-binding. A relique of Sir Walter, it could have been concealed on the interior of the cover follwing his execution in 1618.
Walter Raleigh was born into a Devon landowning family in 1554. his father, Walter Raleigh (1504/05-1581), of East Budleigh, was deputy vice-admiral of the south west under Queen Mary from 1555 until 1558. His mother, Katherine, has previously been married to Otho Gilbert (d.1547). A son by this marriage, Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1537-1583), played a great part in Raleigh's later life.
Following a spell in the Huguenot armies in France Raleigh went up to Oriel College, Oxford, in around 1572. He did not obtain a degree and entered the Middle Temple in 1575. His half-brother, Humphrey Gilbert, not only gave him his first command of a ship, The Falcon, but was also his introduction to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Raleigh entered the royal court in 1581 after returning from fighting in Ireland. He charm, looks and literary gifts quickly enamoured him to the Queen. This led to his appointment as Esquire of the Body in 1581. In 1583 he received leases on lands previously granted to All Souls College, Oxford, the lease of Durham Place on the Strand and most importantly the patent for the sale of wine and the authority to license vintners, which brought an income of some £700 per annum. Many appointments followed such as vice-admiral of the west and lord-lieutenant of Cornwall. He also stood as Knight of the Shire for Devon in 1584 and 1586. He was knighted by the Queen in 1585.
Raleigh's half brother, Humphrey Gilbert, died in 1583. However, Raleigh planned expeditions of his own. On the first in 1585 he claimed land in the Americas on behalf of the Queen, which he named Virginia in her honour. The colonists he left behind struggled to survive and were rescued by Sir Francis Drake the following year. The same difficulties were experienced by the colonist he sent with John White in the expedition of 1587. Despite Raleigh's lack of success he remained a favourite at court, advising the Queen and the Privy Council on the state of the defenses of Devon, Cornwall and East Anglia. In 1586 he received estates in Derbyshire and in the plantation lands of Munster. Later, in 1591, he succeded Sir Christopher Hatton as Captain of the Guard. However, it was in 1591 that he secretly married his pregnant lover, Bess Throckmorton, one of the Queen's Maids of Honour. Misjudging the Queen's reaction he was sent to the Tower of London where he was imprisoned for over five months. Although he continued to be banned from court he was elected as a burgess of Mitchell in Cornwall in 1601. He sailed to the Caribbean in 1595, sacking the Spanish colony of Trinidade. The governor, as Raleigh's prisoner, gave up much information on the lands around the Orinoco river. This spurred Raleigh to investigate the prospects for gold. He returned empty handed, to the disgust of the Queen and Court. In an attempt to justify the expedition he wrote The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtiful Empire of Guiana.
His bravery at the Battle of Cadiz in 1696 ensured his return to court in 1597, where he regained some of his previous influence. However, the death of Queen Elizabeth in 1603 marked the end of Raleigh's power. The new King stripped him of his offices and his London house. He was then implicated in a plot against the crown and charged with treason. His imprisonment in the Tower was to last until 1616, during which time he was to write many of his surviving works, such as his History of the World, 1614. He was released in 1616 in order to undertake another expedition to the Orinoco. Forbidden by the king to engage in acts of piracy he sailed in June 1617. The fleet was battered by storms and returned to Plymouth empty handed in 1618. This was compounded by the sacking of the Spanish colony of San Thomé, in direct contravention of the King's wishes. This act had greatly endangered the conclusion of the negotiations for peace with the Spanish. Raleigh was imprisoned again on landing and transferred to the Tower where he was executed in on 29 October 1618.