Jordan Select Miscellany


Here are some Jordan stories
accounts over the years:


Jordan de Courcy in the Holy Land


The name Jordan came about, it was said, because Jordan De Courcy, who originally had a different name, went as standard-bearer with the English Crusaders to the Holy Land.
In a great battle that took place
between the Christians and the Saracens on the banks of the river
Jordan, he was
so vigorously attacked by the Saracen host that on three or four
occasions his
standard, which was the Banner of the Cross, almost disappeared from
the view
of the Christians.  They, feared for his
safety; but because of his extraordinary strength and the help he
received from
his followers, De Courcy re-appeared with his standard, as if
miraculously, and
dealt destruction to the enemy.
Hence the
adoption of the personal name Jordan in memory of his remarkable
prowess on
that day.


Jordan Manor on Dartmoor

a medieval village near Widecombe on Dartmoor.
There were apparently turf buildings on the site before stone
ones were
built.  One building was a manor farm
mentioned in the Domesday Book as being held in 1066 by a wealthy
Englishman named
Alric.  Ownership had passed to William
de la Falaise by 1086. 
is believed
that this was the original Deardon or Jordan manor house before it was
in the early 1600’s one kilometer away along the West Webburn river.


Jordans in Devon and Dorset

Jordan, sometimes spelt Jourdain, came from a
Lyme Regis family in Dorset.  Known as
the “Arch Puritan,” he was an uncompromising figure in Elizabethan and
Stuart Exeter.

Jordan dated his conversion
to Puritanism to his visit to the Channel Islands in 1576.
By the turn of the century he was taking a
leading part in Exeter’s municipal affairs, as Bailiff in 1599, Sheriff
1601, Mayor in 1617, and MP in 1625.  His
final political demonstration took place in 1638 when he refused to
the King’s message denouncing the religious revolt in Scotland.  Meanwhile Ignatius’s brother Silvester became
a prosperous merchant in Exeter and also served as Mayor of the town.

There followed in the next generation Captain
John Jourdain of the East India Company, Chief Factor in Bataam.  This captain was buried in Lyme Regis in
1620, almost a year after he was reported to have been killed in battle
in India
against the Dutch.  Could it have taken a
year to bring his body home pickled in brine?

There are likely tie-ins with Samuel Jordan, the “ancient planter” in
Virginia who died in 1623, and Vice Admiral Sir Joseph Jordan, who died
1685, but none have been proven.


Jordan’s Castle in
County Down

line in County Down may have begun in the late 12th century when Sir
Jordan de Sackville arrived with
John de Courcy and was given land in Ardglass near Downpatrick.
In the mid-15th century, an unknown merchant built
Jordan’s Castle, one of the tower houses used for the defense of
Thomas Jordan was using it as a warehouse in 1528.  During
Tyrone’s Rebellion in 1598
Simon Jordan held out for three years against a siege on the
castle by O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone.

castle had many owners over the
centuries, but by the mid-1850s it had deteriorated and was no longer
inhabited.  It was later restored by a private owner who
bequeathed it to the state
in 1926.


Reader Feedback – Jordans and
Sheridans in Ireland

browsing Jordan genealogies I have found
considerable confusion arising from the Anglicisation of Irish Gaelic
names at
the end of the 17th century.  As the Jordan d’Exeters of Gallen
(Athleathan) in the west of Ireland became Gallicized they adopted the
MacJordan and MacSiurtain.

the British drive to anglicize all Gaelic
names in the 18th century the latter name was mistranslated into
Sheridan.  Hence west of Ireland Sheridans are virtually all
Jordans and
have no connection with the O’Sheridans of Ulster, to which family
Richard Brinsley Sheridan and General Philip Sheridan.  My
family belongs
to the MacSiurtains of Gallen but – like all of the name in
the west
of Ireland – have been erroneously called Sheridan for
over 200

Vivian MacSiurtain (


Jordans in America by Country of Origin

Country Numbers Percent
Ireland   1,011    44
England     861    38
Germany     350    16
Scotland      55     2
Total   2,277   100


Levi Jordan in Brazoria, Texas

was born in Georgia in 1793.  According
to family stories, he was an orphan and ran away from a cruel guardian
at an
early age. When he was twelve years old he applied for a land grant in
the 1805
Georgia lottery.  At nineteen he joined
the army and served for six months.  He
then worked as an overseer on Jesse Stone’s plantation and eloped with

owned adjoining plantations on the
Louisiana-Arkansas border with his son-in-law, James Campbell McNeill.  In 1848 both families decided to uproot
themselves to Texas.  They traveled there
in wagons with their slaves walking alongside. After killing a mountain
lion at
his first campsite, Jordan established his sugar and cotton plantation
near the
Four Forks area on the San Bernard river, not too far from Brazoria.

quickly became a rich man.  He lived
frugally.  When he decided to build a
house – often a flamboyant expression of a planter’s grandiosity –
settled for a respectable structure that
functional and simple to the point of
built in 1854 from oak
timber, with some of the timber being brought down the San Bernard
river by
schooner.  In addition to the house,
there was a smokehouse, a sugar house, stables, and brick slave
quarters.  The sugar house was supposed to
have the
largest sugar-making machinery in the county. The house and slave
quarters have
recently been restored.  An account of
life on the plantation can be found in Sallie McNeill’s diaries of
recently published.

Levi was reputed, in
family stories, to have owned 365 slaves at one point – one for every
day of
the year. But only 146 were on the tax
rolls at one time.  After 1865 Jordan
shifted to a farming system which employed many of his former slaves
and their
descendants in a system of sharecropping and tenancy.

Levi died aboard a steamer going to Galveston
in 1873.  He was buried in the Cedar Lake
cemetery near his plantation.


John Jordan’s Crossing of America

John Jordan was born and grew up in Illinois.
In 1833 he and his wife Eliza Jane decided to
migrate to Texas while it was still part of Mexico.
John was a Texas Ranger during the war.  Texas
gained independence in 1836 and, later
in 1848, when Van Zandt county was created, John was elected its County

However, California came calling.
In March 1850 the Jordans left on a wagon train of which John
the captain.  The train comprised sixty
and two hundred pioneers.  They took the
southern route and arrived in San Diego five months later.

John and Eliza Jane eventually had twelve children. The first was born
in Illinois, the next eight in Texas, and the remaining three in
California.  After staying in San Diego
for several months, they moved to San Juan Bautista where they built a
and store.  By 1857 they had moved to the
Jordan homestead near Exeter in Tulare county.
Here John raised hogs and took up mining.


James Jordan, An Irish Convict to Australia

Dublin court records have been lost.  So
there is no account of the crime for which
James Jordan was tried and convicted there in 1789.
All that is known is that he was given the sentence
of seven years transportation.

It was
three years before he was to arrive at the place where he was to
serve his
sentence.  He was first dispatched to
Newfoundland; but then brought back and put on the Queen
in Cork in 1791, the first Irish transport to leave Ireland
and embark directly for Australia.  He
must have been very strong to survive the terrible hardships that
he experienced
on these voyages.  On the Queen
it transpired that the second mate
had deliberately reduced the convict meat rations by half during the
voyage.  They arrived in Australia in a
state.  Less than half the convicts who
were on board the ship were alive a year later.

Fortunately Norfolk Island, where James ended up,
was not then the hell-hole for convicts that it was later to become.  He met Mary Butler, a convict also from
and they co-habited, she in time coming to call herself Mrs. Jordan.  Their eldest son Richard was born in 1794 and
other children were to follow.  James received his conditional pardon in 1797.
He looked after Government boats and had
a farm of his own and they lived a normal family life with apparent
prosperity and
happiness for about twenty years.

Mary Jordan died in 1813, shortly before the people of Norfolk Island
were evacuated and
resettled in a place called Norfolk Plains, later Longford, in
Tasmania.  James lived on in Tasmania until
1840.  His descendants are still there.  They held a bicentennial celebration of his
in 1991.

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