Archaeologists may have Unearthed the Nearly 400-year-old Skeleton of America’s Second Governor

Sir George Yeardley was one of Jamestown’s early leaders. Born in 1588, Yeardley left England in June 1609, bound for Virginia. In Jamestown, he served as a captain of Lt. Governor Sir Thomas Gates’ guard and helped lead an expedition to discover gold and silver mines in the interior. Playing an important role in the war of 1609-1614 against the Powhatans, he later served briefly as deputy governor in 1616 before returning to England the following year.

Yeardley was appointed lord governor of Virginia in the fall of 1618 following news of the unexpected death of the incumbent governor, Lord Delware (De La Warr), at sea on his way back to the colony. Yeardley was knighted by the king and sailed back to Virginia in early 1619.

Sir George Yeardley presided over the first assembly made up of his council and 22 burgesses drawn from English settlements along the James River Valley from July 30-August 4, 1619. He also became the first known slave owner in North America when he purchased several Africans that had been had been captured from a Spanish ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight of the Africans were living on his property on Jamestown Island in 1625.

Yeardley died in 1627. Details of his death and burial have not survived. However, as a leading citizen of the colony, Yeardly probably was buried in a place of honor inside the church, as was the English custom of the time. Last week, a group of archaeologists unearthed a skeleton from what was once the center aisle of the church at Jamestown.

The archaeologists now plan to use both genealogy and DNA to track down any living descendants of Sir George Yeardley and match their DNA to the DNA they’ve collected from the remains.

Details may be found in an article by Jessica Campisi and Brandon Griggs in the CNN web site at: https://cnn.it/2AkGc3N.

3 Comments

Why can’t we let these people rest in peace?

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You mean British America’s second governor. Spanish Florida had governors since 1565.

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Thanks for this – it’s interesting. We don’t find as many remains of our famous ancestors here as they seem to in Britain – like finding English kings under parking lots . . .

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