Women’s History Month: Sarah Offley
While Captain Adam Thorowgood was the first of his name to come to colonial America in 1621, he came as an indentured servant. It was not until after he married Sarah Offley that his wealth and power in Princess Anne County arose. Sarah Offley was from a well-off family in England and brought this wealth with her to their marriage, which took place at St. Anne’s Church in London in 1627. Her dowry money, in addition to money Adam inherited from his family, helped Adam pay for the passage of 105 people across the Atlantic Ocean and receive over 5,000 acres of land in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area.
While Adam is considered the founder of this area, his wife, Sarah, played a substantial role in this land acquisition. Adam passed away in 1640, about a decade before Sarah. He left behind four children: Adam II, Elizabeth, Sarah, and Anne. Sarah’s influence and well-made marriages after his death helped ensure her children's’ continued wealth and power.
Sarah remarried twice after Adam’s death, and both of these husbands were involved in her children's’ lives and prosperity. Her second marriage was to John Gookin, which only lasted a few years as he passed away in 1643. However, John did leave behind a child, Mary, who was born to Sarah in 1642.
Sarah waited a few years before her third marriage in 1647 to Francis Yeardley, who passed away in 1657. Sarah passed away later in the same year. Both Yeardley and Gookin were well to do men with land and political power in Princess Anne County. Sarah was buried in the old Lynnhaven churchyard, alongside her second husband John Gookin, after outliving all three of her husbands.