Temperance Flowerdew was the daughter of Anthony Flowerdew of Hethersett County, Norfolk, England and Martha Stanley of Scottow, Norfolk, England. In 1609, she traveled to the New World aboard the Falcon in a convoy of ships destined for Jamestown. Her birth year is uncertain and she may have been anywhere her mid to late teens at the time of her journey, and may have traveled with her parents.
Nearly two months into the trip, the fleet encountered a horrific storm, that many called a hurricane. The flagship, the Sea Venture, with the new leaders for Jamestown was separated and lost from the rest of the convoy of ships. Among those leaders was a young lieutenant, named George Yeardley. While the Sea Venture was grounded on the island of Bermuda, the Falcon with Temperance Flowerdew onboard, limped into Jamestown a few weeks later.
Fearing all were lost on the Sea Venture, the new colonists faced so much death from sickness, disease, hunger, and Indian attacks that over eighty percent of the new settlers did not survive. However, Temperance Flowerdew survived the dreadful Starving Time. She was there to welcome the hardy souls, feared lost at sea, when they finally arrived ten months later in two small ships made from the wreckage of the Sea Venture. George Yeardly was among them. Temperance Flowerdew, however, was soon to return to England.
Three years later in 1613, Temperance married George Yeardley and over the course of the next few years had three children, a daughter Elizabeth (1614-15), and two sons, Argoll (1618) and Francis (1623).
In 1616, Deputy Governor George Yeardly secured a peace with the Chickahominy Indians that enabled the colonists to trade for food and live in peace for two years. His term ended in 1617.
Traveling to England, George Yeardley was knighted in 1618, and given a commission as Governor of Virginia.
In 1619, Governor Yeardley initiated the first legislative assembly by ordering representatives from all parts of the colony to convene at the Jamestown church on July 3), 1619 to determine the laws that would govern them. This later became known as the House of Burgesses.
Governor Yeardley named his patent grant of 1,000 acres of land in honor of his wife: Flowerdew Hundred. Sir Yeardly commissioned the building of America’s first windmill on the plantation in 1621. Notably fifteen of the first twenty Africans brought to the Jamestown colony resided at the plantation. Whether they were there in slavery or indentured servitude, it is not clear. Indentured servitude was common in the early days of the colony. The colony had no institutionalized slavery enacted into law until 1662 when the need for labor in the tobacco-dependent economy intensified.
Temperance survived another harrowing event that occurred in the early morning hours of March 22, 1622, when a carefully orchestrated attack by the Powhatan Indians wiped out twenty-five percent of the colonists. Records note that Flowerdew Hundred lost six of the thirty or so people who lived and worked there.
In 1627, Temperance’s husband died and she remarried his successor, Governor Francis West on March 31, 1628. Unfortunately Temperance died just nine months later in December 1628.