The one hundred seventeen men, women and children were not the first white people to try to live on the island. A group of more than one hundred Englishmen had arrived two years earlier, in fifteen eighty-five. But they arrived too late in the year to plant crops, and their supplies nearly ran out. They also fought with Indians. The Englishmen returned home the following year.
Then came the families of what would become the Lost Colony.

Is it okay to say the bold sentence in this way:
Then the families which would become the Lost Colony came.
Then the families of becoming the Lost Colony came.

And I really don't understand 'of what' before 'would become the Lost Colony.
please let me know about that in detail.

Thanks a million.
Original Post
I'm afraid those two renditions don't work, Jey. In fact, there's really no easy way to paraphrase this sentence and keep it from becoming very awkward.

Perhaps it can be done this way (even though I'm not crazy about it):

Then the families came who would become part of what is known as the Lost Colony.

The part that says of what means that the families that arrived were part of the thing (what) that would become known as the Lost Colony.
Jey:

'What would become the Lost Colony' is a noun clause. You can paraphrase this to:

  • Then came the families of this (the Lost Colony).

    It's possible to substitute your first sentence to -- Then the families which would become the Lost Colony came -- but this style seems awkward.

    We do, though, sometimes use an adverbial, such as 'then.' + an inversion of a non-action verb, as in these examples from the New York Times:

  • Then came 17 consecutive pars and a respectable 73. And on Friday, Sturgeon, a 31-year-old from Kentucky, was among the few players who handled the blustery ...

  • Whereas when he emerged on the University streets, there stood the broad walls of the colleges, set shoulder to shoulder, their domes, ...

  • So now here stands Minaya, unofficially at war with one of the main papers that covers his team, which is hardly in the Mets' interest. ...

    This type of inversion is more literary than conversational.
  • quote:
    Then the families which would become the Lost Colony came.

    Then the families of becoming the Lost Colony came.


    Both aren't OK, but the 2nd is much worse than the 1st. It doesn't sound good English at all, which the 1st does to an extent.

    Possible paraphrases:

    Then came the families of the future Lost Colony.

    Then came the families of the Lost Colony to be.

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