On 29 October 1618 the great explorer and adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on the orders of King James I of England. Accused of treason by Elizabeth’s successor, James I, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually put to death. Sir Walter Raleigh, English adventurer and writer, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, who knighted him in 1585. Famous for being one of the first to popularize tobacco brought back from his American adventures, Raleigh left a small bag of the stuff in his cell with the words “It was my companion at that most miserable time” inscribed upon it. Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), English aristocrat, writer, soldier, politician, courtier, spy, and explorer. Learn more about Raleigh’s life in this article. Sir Walter Raleigh (/ ˈ r ɔː l i, ˈ r æ l i, ˈ r ɑː l i /; c. 1552 (or 1554) – 29 October 1618), also spelled Ralegh, was an English landed gentleman, writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer.He was a cousin of Sir Richard Grenville and younger half-brother of Sir Humphrey Gilbert.He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.