Grave of Sea Venture survivor found

  • Bermuda man: archaeologists Mary Anna Hartley (left) and Bob Chartrand excavate the bones they believe belong to Sea Venture wreck survivor and early colonial Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley (Photograph courtesy Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation/Williamsburg/Yorktown Daily)

    Bermuda man: archaeologists Mary Anna Hartley (left) and Bob Chartrand excavate the bones they believe belong to Sea Venture wreck survivor and early colonial Virginia Governor Sir George Yeardley (Photograph courtesy Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation/Williamsburg/Yorktown Daily)


The grave of a survivor of the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture in Bermuda may have been discovered in Virginia, archaeologists have said.

The last resting place of Sir George Yeardley is believed to have been found in what was the main church in Bermuda’s sister colony of Jamestown.

Sir George commanded the soldiers on the flagship Sea Venture, which was part of the Third Supply Fleet sent to the starving colony in Virginia by the London Company.

But the fleet was split up by a major storm and the floundering flagship was steered on to the reefs off St George’s in July 1609.

Sea Venture survivors worked for the next ten months to salvage what they could from the wreck, and built two smaller ships, The Patience and The Deliverance to go on to their original destination.

The crew also surveyed Bermuda and two men were left behind as punishment for mutiny, which marked the start of the first permanent settlement of Bermuda.

The two new ships arrived in Jamestown in June 1610 just after a major famine and the supplies helped the colony to survive.

Sir George became governor of the Jamestown colony three times and was in charge when the first representative government assembly in British North America convened in July 1619.

Bermuda’s House of Assembly sat for the first time almost exactly a year later.

Sir George was born in Surrey, England, in 1587 and died in Virginia, aged 40, in 1627.

He was also one of the first holders of slaves in Virginia, who are thought to have arrived in 1619.

Sir George’s remains were found in a prominent spot in one of the first churches on the Jamestown site.

Archaeologists said that identification could take months as scientists have to compare mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosomes in either all-female or all-male lineages of Yeardley’s known descendants.

They explained that the collection of DNA from living people is relatively easy, but the identification of genetic markers from long-buried bodies can be difficult as the DNA may be damaged.

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Published Jul 26, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 26, 2018 at 8:07 am)

Grave of Sea Venture survivor found

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