Jordan Surname Genealogy
Jordan name was popularized at the time of the Crusades when soldiers
and pilgrims to the Holy Land would often return with flasks of water
from the Jordan river to use for christening purposes.
They also told stories, sometimes exaggerated, about their
exploits. Jordan itself derives from the Aramaic yarden, meaning “to descend” (in the
case of the Jordan river to the Dead Sea).
for nobility in Italy and later in France.
It also began appearing in various guises in the Spanish,
and Hungarian languages, as well as in English. Among the first
England were those of John Jorden of Cambridge in 1202 and Walter
Sussex in 1327.
Jordan Resources on
The Jordan clan in Ireland.
- Jordan Family Foundation
New England descendants of the Rev. Richard Jordan.
- Jordan DNA Project
Ireland. The Jordan name in Ireland began with Jordan
a younger brother of Sir
John De Courcy, who came with the Anglo-Norman invaders in 1170 and was
named because of his reported exploits in the Holy Land.
His line was first known as de Exeter as they were from Exeter
de Exeter, sheriff
of Connacht in the mid-13th century, was the forebear of the family in
Mayo that came to be known as MacJordan or MacSiurtain and later as
de Exeter Jordan. Jordan when anglicized sometimes came
The principal stronghold of the Jordans was Athleathan
castle in Gallen barony, built around 1180. The
castle remained with the family until the
1650’s when Cromwell confiscated their possessions. Father
Fulgenius Jordan of
the Jordan Duff line was martyred for his faith at Ballyhaunis in 1682. Jourdan,
one of Napoleon’s most successful
generals, was said to have been descended from the family through a
officer who left for France in 1691. The Jordan family in Mayo
remained Catholic during the time of the Penal Laws.
are most common in Mayo and Galway, but are to be found as well in
Down, Waterford and elsewhere
in Ireland (possibly from different lineages). Jordan’s Castle
was built in Ardglass, county Down in the md-15th century and was held
by Jordans during the 16th century. Among present-day Jordans:
- Eddie Jordan, the former F1 racing driver, grew up in county
- while Neil Jordan, the filmmaker and novelist, was born in Sligo
the Jordans in Exeter also came Jordan de Cantington, an early Norman
into Wales. These Jordans were once
prevalent in Pembrokeshire. But the male
line there seems to have ended in 1802 when Barrett Bowen Jordan of
England. Another legend from
the Holy Land gives the Jordan
name to Sir William Deardon who fought in the Crusades with Richard the
Lionhearted and lived in Devon. A Jordan
manor near Widecombe on Dartmoor is said to have been there
times. The present Jordan manor house
from the early 1600’s.
Early Jordans, sometimes
were to be found in Exeter and
along the coast in Dorset at Melcombe (Weymouth) and Lyme
Regis, as well as in
Somerset (from Jordaine near Ilminster). The Jordan name is still
present in Devon. But
there are more in London,
Kent and the southeast. Jordans of Gatwick, landed gentry in
Surrey, date from the 15th century and contributed an early emigrant to
America, Arthur Jordan. There was another gentry family of Jordans at
Cranbrook in Kent by the 16th century.
America. Jordans in America
were at first English, later Irish. There were four main Jordan
lines in America in the 1600’s, one in New England and three in
New England representative
was the Rev. Robert Jordan who arrived in 1638 and, being Episcopal
than Puritan, settled in southern Maine. There
he married Sarah Winter, the governor’s daughter, and
became a substantial
landowner in the region. His family line
was covered in Tristram Jordan’s 1882 book The
first in Virginia was Samuel Jordan from Lyme Regis in
Dorset, called “an ancient planter” due to his arrival in Virginia as
early as 1610. He established himself
near Charles City on a plantation known as Beggars Bush at Jordan’s
(later Jordan Point). There he survived the
Indian raids of 1622 but died a year later. His
son Thomas, who had arrived in Virginia in 1618,
remained, as did his young second wife. Other
early Jordans in Virginia
Jordan and Richard Jordan (unrelated), who were to be found in Surry
Later came Jordan migrations to
the South. Richard
headed to North Carolina and then onto Georgia. William
Enoch Jordan’s forebears had left
Virginia for South Carolina and he and his family then moved onto
Georgia and Alabama in the
1830’s and 40’s. Levi Jordan
and John Jordan were early settlers in Texas.
Levi Jordan stayed
a successful plantation owner. John Jordan moved onto
The first Irish presence in America – probably in the late 18th century
– came from county Down in Northern Ireland. Subsequent Jordan
arrivals came from different points in Ireland.
Jordan is a notable African
American name. Whether its Biblical and
baptismal associations appealed at the time surnames were chosen or
there were other reasons, there have been a number of prominent African
American Jordans around in recent times – Michael Jordan the basketball
player, Barbara Jordan and Vernon Jordan the civil rights campaigners,
Jordan the poet and playwright, Louis Jordan the bandleader, and the
Jordan New Orleans family of musicians.
Caribbean. The Jordan
name features in the Caribbean. Edward Jordan was an early
settler in Barbados. His descendants ran the Black Rock
plantation in St. James’s parish. Another Edward Jordan was a
controversial figure in Jamaica, the first black Mayor in the 1850’s of
Kingston. There is a statue of him in St. William Grant Park.
Australia. James Jordan
was transported to Australia in 1791 on the first convict ship, the Queen, that departed directly from
Ireland. He served out his seven year term on Norfolk
Island and his descendants settled in Tasmania.
In different circumstances came Henry Jordan, a Methodist missionary
from an old Devon family, who arrived in South Australia in the 1850’s
with the intent of converting the local Aboriginals. But his
health was poor and he ended up in politics in Queensland.
If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:
Jordan de Exeter was a 13th century Anglo-Norman knight and forebear
of the MacJordan clan in Mayo.
Dorothea Jordan was an Anglo-Irish
actress, courtesan, and companion of the future King William IV.
was a pioneering African-American musician, songwriter, and bandleader
enjoyed great popularity from the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s.
a leading figure in the civil rights movement and later a close advisor
Jordan of the Chicago Bulls is considered one of the greatest
players of all time. He was instrumental
in popularizing the game around the world in the 1980’s and 90’s.
- 34,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 69,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
- 28,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
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