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Sarah Yeardly (Offley)

Also Known As: "Susan Offley", "Sarah Thoroughgood", "Sarah Gookin", "Sarah Yeardley"
Birthplace: Langbourn Ward, City of London, Middlesex, England
Death: August 1657
Adam Thoroughgood House (on the Lynnhaven River), Thoroughgood, Virginia Beach, Lower Norfolk County (Present Princess Anne's County), Virginia Colony
Place of Burial: Church Point, Virginia Beach, Princess Anne's County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robert Offley and Anne Offley
Wife of Capt. Adam Thoroughgood; Capt. John Gookin and Colonel Francis Yeardley
Mother of Ann Fowke; Sarah Overzee; Elizabeth Michaels; Col. Adam Thoroughgood, Jr. and Mary Lawson
Sister of Robert Offley, III; Anne Offley; John Offley, III; Edward Offley; Hewett Offley and 7 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sarah Yeardly

The question of Sarah Offley's marriages is perplexing. If this is the same person, she was married four times altogether:

Family 1

  • Capt. Adam (1) Thorowgood b. c 1602, d. Apr 1640
  • Marriage: She married Capt. Adam (1) Thorowgood, son of William Thorowgood and Anne Edwards, on 18 July 1627 at St. Anne's Ch, Blackfriars, London.1


  • Anne (2) Thorowgood b. c 1628
  • Sarah (4) Thorowgood b. c 1632
  • Elizabeth (5) Thorowgood+ b. c 1635, d. a 5 May 1670
  • Lt. Col. Adam (3) Thorowgood II+ b. c 1638, d. Jan 1686

Family 2

  • Capt. John (5) Gookin b. c 1613, d. 1643
  • Marriage: She married Capt. John (5) Gookin in April 1641.1 No documented children.

Family 3

  • (3h|o Sarah Offley) (-----) b. c 1620, d. c 1650 [or earlier - possibly John Yeardley?]
  • Marriage: She married (3h|o Sarah Offley) (-----) circa 1645.1 No documented children.

Family 4

  • Col. Francis Yeardley b. 1623
  • Marriage: She married Col. Francis Yeardley in 1647. No children.


From Sheldon-Watson Genealogy

When she died she claimed all three husbands. Her epitaph reads:

"Here lieth ye body of Capt. John Gookin and also ye body of Mrs Sarah Yeardley, who was wife to Capt Adam Thoroughgood first, Capt John Gookin and Col Francis Yeardley who deceased Aug 1657"

(Research):Sarah Offley: Ancestress of all Tarvins

Beautiful and high-spririted, Sarah Offley Thorowgood also had a backbone of steel and an indomitable will. She was the envy of every woman in the colony and a match for any man. She was ambitious, capable, proud and self-righteous as other members of her family and her husband Adam Thorowgood. Other than the Indian Princess Pocahontas, she was the most interesting and colorful woman in Virginia until her death in 1657.

Sarah was eighteen when she came to America in 1628. (note if 18 in 1628 and died in 1657 means she was 48 when she died) During her first 12 years in her new country, she had children in rapid succession. Elizabeth was born in 1628, Anne in 1630, and by 1639 she had also given birth to Sarah and Adam Jr., and at least two children who had died. (The daughter Anne became the grandmother of Elizabeth Dent who married Richard Tarvin, thus the Tarvin-Thoroughgood connection for all Tarvin descendants). The eldest was only ten or eleven at the time of Adam's early death. During Adam's lifetime, Sarah remained in the background busily caring for her children, shouldering household responsibilities, and helping her husband establish a huge plantation in the wilderness. Adam undoubtedly recognized his wife's strength and capabilities because his will entrusted her with the guardianship of their children and their inheritances, which was a lot of property for a young woman living in a semi -wilderness with four small children to manage alone.

however, Sarah ha learned a lot from her husband about managing property and protecting the rights and good name of her family. She left as long a trail of court cases as he did. Even though Adam's bequests to her in his will seemed most generous, she was not satisfied and requested the court reserve a lot more household items for her use. The requests reveal how well Sarah's bedchamber was furnished, and the silver in her cupboard. We know she set her table with a tablecloth, napkins, knives, forks, and spoons. At that time forks were a novelty even in England, Sarah's mention of silver spoons is doubtless the first reference in America to silver as a wedding present. Any kind of silver was a rarity, both because of its price, and the fact that there was a law against the importation to America. The two overseers of Adam's estate, knew Sarah well, and were reluctant to tangle with her in any administration of the will, so she had gained command. She also firmly established her loyalty to her dead husband. at some time later the family changed the spelling of their name to Thoroughgood.

Sarah was not a woman to stay unmarried long. Within a year, she married John Gookin, a son of a wealthy landowner from Newport News. John Gookin was immediately popular, becoming captain in the militia, then a colonel, a vestryman and a justice. After their marriage, he moved inot Sarah's house, and the couple had one child, Mary. It was a happy marriage, but a short one. Within two years on 2 November 1643, John Gookin died. Sarah was again alone with 5 young children to bring up, but her spirit was not diminished. Since 1640, the court had been attempting to get an accurate accounting from Sarah, of the cattle left to his children by Adam Thorowgood. then the Commissioners of Lower Norfolk County, who were obviously afraid of Sarah, asked her politely but unsuccessfully on ten different occasions to render an account of the cattle of the children. finally they sent the under sheriff to levy a fine of 500 lbs of tobacco on her. She responded with a letter in which she flatly refused to pay a fine or to appear in court, and insisted that was unheard of for a mother to be asked to account for the property of her own children. The following year, the next sheriff lacked the nerve to press the matter further, and before anyone else dared face up to her, Francis Yeardley had married her and upon his promise to render the account, the court, with relief, repealed the 500 lb fine. Francis Yeardley was a leader of the Cromwellian party in Virginia. he lived in Northhampton County, then Lower Norfolk county, where he received a 590 acre grant, was Justice in 1651 and 1652, and a Burgess in 1653.

Sarah undoubtedly had a fine wardrobe, probably including clothes made of fine broadcloth, silk and woolens. She would have had her choice of materials traded by her brother John Offley. She loved expensive jewelry and apparently had a good bit of it. Her will directed that her best "diamond necklace and jewel" should be sent to England and be sold. She also acquired valuable fine jewelry from Mrs. Susanna Mosely, whose family had fallen on hard times and had great need for cattle. Mrs. Mosely explained in a letter, that she had rather Mrs. Yeardley would wear them than "any other gentlewoman in the country."

The original home built by Adam and Sarah by 1635 and called "The Mansion" and "The Manor House Plantation" was willed to Sarah during her lifetime. She lived there with each of her subsequent husbands, until it burned about 1650. She built another house nearby, also called "The Manor House Plantation" where she lived until her death. Col. Yeardley died in 1655. Sarah Died in August 1657 after a full and adventurous life. Her will left no doubt that of her three husbands, she loved John Gookin best. By her last will and testament,Mistress Yeardley late deceased, did order that her best diamond necklace and jewel be sent to England to purchase six diamond rings and two black tombstones to be sent to Virginia the next shipping. The tombstones were for herself and John Gookin, and she ordered that she be buried beside him; however, she claimed all three husbands on her tombstone.

  • [S624] Virginia M. Meyer & John Frederick Dorman, Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5.
  • Find A Grave Memorial# 62864079
  • The Scott/Dines/Duncan/Dickson Website
    • Sarah died 1657 in Lower Norfolk Co., VA, at 48 years of age. Sarah was 18 years old when she came to the Virginia colony. Court records show her bringing suit on several occasions: swearing out a warrant on Goody Layton for wronging her deceased husband with a "Pish;" two men for making insulting remarks to her daughter, Sarah in 1644; and just days before her death she took a tenant farmer to court for improper planting of an orchard and "ground made waste of." She was described as "beautiful and high-spirited" with a "backbone of steel and an indomitable will." (Norfolk Co. VA GenWeb, Thorowgood Family by Carol Middleton; dates-Meyer & Dorman, Adventurers of Purse & Person, Dietz Press, Richmond, VA 1987, pp.459, 607)
view all 14

Sarah Yeardly's Timeline

April 6, 1609
St. Benet's, London, England
April 16, 1609
City of London, Middlesex, England
April 16, 1609
City of London, Middlesex, England
Age 18
Came to America from England on the Hopewell as the young bride of Adam Thorowgood.
October 30, 1630
Age 21
Lower Norfolk, Virginia
Age 21
Lynnhahen, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Age 23
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony
Age 28
Lynnhaven Parish, Lower Norfolk County (Present Princess Anne County), Virginia Colony