Yardley, George, deputy governor of Virginia, from May, 1616, to May, 1617 and governor and captain-general of Virginia from April, 1619 to November 18, 1621, and from May 17, 1626 to November 13, 1627, was son of Ralph Yardley, citizen and merchant tailor of Bionshaw Lane, London, who married (1) Agnes Abbot and (2) Rhoda ———. He was one of four brothers: Ralph; George, the subject of the present sketch; John and Thomas; and a sister Anne, who married Edward Irby. He served like many other of the early settlers as a soldier in the Low Countries, that "university of war." He sailed to Virginia in 1609, with Sir Thomas Gates, as captain of his company; was wrecked with his superior officer on the Bermuda Islands, but finally arrived in Virginia in May, 1610. When Gates embarked the colonists to return to England, the company, commanded by Captain Yardley, was the last to get aboard, thereby preventing the town from being burned. When Lord Delaware turned the departing settlers back and resumed the work of colonization, Yardley was made commandant of Forts Charles and Henry, at the mouth of Hampton river. Subsequently under orders he abandoned these forts in order to lead an expedition to discover a gold mine beyond the Falls of James river. The Queen of Appomattox invited some of his companions to a feast, and while they were eating, treacherously massacred fourteen of them, including "all the chief men skillful in finding out mines." The colonists retorted by burning her town and killing some of her people. The expedition got no farther than the falls of the river, where they built a fort and remained six months. When Sir Thomas Dale began to build at Bermuda City, Yardley was commandant of the town. When Dale left Virginia in 1616, Yardley, who acted as deputy-governor resided at Bermuda City for the most part. He encouraged the planting of tobacco, with the result that emigration, which had almost entirely ceased, set in again with strong force. Private stock companies were formed, which sent colonies on their own account to Virginia. Yardley also taught the Indians a punitive lesson. The Chickahominy tribe declined to pay the corn tax, which they had promised Sir Thomas Dale, and about Christmas, 1616, Yardley with 84 men promptly attacked them and in a very short time brought them to terms. In May, 1617, Captain Argall came in, with a commission as deputy governor, and with orders to portion out lands, as the joint stock period of the charter had expired. This he did not do, and he is charged not only with continuing the common slavery, but plundering the "common garden" belonging to the company. Then the company tried to send back the Lord Governor Delaware, but he died on the way, and in January, 1619, Captain Yardley was commissioned as governor and captain-general under an order abolishing martial law and establishing a free government. Yardley arrived at Jamestown April 10, and immediately called the first legislative assembly that ever convened in America. Other events render the year memorable such as the introduction in August of the first negro slaves, and the arrival from England of a ship with twenty young maidens "pure and undefiled" to furnish wives to the tenants of the public lands. Despite the terrible mortality of the climate the colony increased in population and property. Dale in 1616 left 351 persons in the colony, but there were about 1200 at the close of Yardley's administration in 1621, all of them "seasoned" settlers. Sir Francis Wyatt came in as governor in November of that year, and Yardley was then a member of the council until May, 1626. He was very efficient in punishing the Indians after the massacre of 1622. When Wyatt wished to leave Virginia for a time on business, the king commissioned Yardley to be governor of Virginia a second time. He entered into that office in May, 1626, but did not serve much more than a year. He died November 13, 1627, and was interred in the church at Jamestown.
He married, about 1618, Temperance West [sic], and had issue two sons, Argall and Francis, the first of whom has numerous descendants in the United States.
Yardley made a great deal of money out of tobacco, and was as popular with the Indians as with the whites. The Indian King of Weyanoke gave him a fertile tract of land in Charles City county between Mapsico creek and Queen's creek, known as Weyanoke. This good man was one of the greatest benefactors of Virginia, and with Sir Edwyn Sandys deserves a monument at the hands of the people of the United States. If Sandys instituted the move which freed the people of Virginia from martial law and gave them representative government, Yardley executed the orders and proved himself always the sympathetic friend of liberty.