Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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Yeardley, Sir George, governor of Virginia, born in England about 1580; died there in November, 1627. He was among the early emigrants to Virginia, and on the return of Sir Thomas Dale to England in 1616, was appointed deputy governor by that official. The appointment did not please the friends of Sir Thomas Smythe, the chairman of the London company, and they succeeded in electing in his stead Samuel Argall, who had made several voyages to Virginia as Smythe's trading agent. Argall arrived in the colony in 1617, and proving himself from the first "arrogant, self-willed, and greedy of gain," he was displaced after the death of Lord Delaware, and the "mild and popular" Yeardley was re-elected governor. On 22 November the king gave Yeardley audience, knighted him, and held a long conversation with him on the religion of the natives. On 19 April, 1619, Sir George entered on his office. From the moment of his arrival dates the real life of Virginia. Commissions and instructions from the company "for the better establishinge of a commonwealth" were brought over by him, in accordance with which he made proclamation that the cruel laws by which the planters had so long been governed were now abrogated. It was also "graunted that a generall assemblie shoulde be helde yearly once." Yeardley remained in office until 1621, but, not proving as energetic as the company in London desired that he should be, he was superseded by Sir Francis Wyatt, who was the bearer of a written constitution for the colony. A year after the accession of Charles I. Wyatt retired, and Yeardley was again made governor, his appointment being considered a guarantee that representative govern-meat would be maintained as it had been introduced by him. From this time Virginia rose rapidly in public esteem ; in 1627, 1,000 emigrants arrived, and there was an increasing demand for the products of the soil. In November of that year Yeardley's career was closed by death. Posterity retains a grateful recollection of the man who first convened a representative assembly in the western hemisphere, while the colonists, in a letter to the privy council, pronounced a glowing eulogy on his character.
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