In the past couple of weeks I have been finding lots of information about my 8th great grandfather – that is my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. That’s a lot of great’s!
His name was Robert Jordan. Born in England in 1611, five years before the King James version of the Bible was printed. He was baptized in St Swithun’s Church, Worcester, England on January 12, 1611. This church still stands (having been renovated several times) and the church tower dates from the time of Robert Jordan. He was well educated, graduating from Oxford university in 1632. I am not really sure if he actually graduated since he was only 19 but he is listed on the Oxford University Alumni list in that year. When both his parents died of plague in 1637 he cashed in his inheritance and set out for North America, landing on the coast of what now is Maine. Somehow in all of this he also became a priest with the Church of England although there is some speculation about whether he was really qualified for this.
He ended up at Richmond Island, not far north from what is now Portland Maine. There he quickly became the local Church of England cleric. He soon married Sarah Winter. Now Sarah was the only daughter of John Winter, a businessman who managed the shipping business of a local landowner. It seems that Mr. Winter was anxious to marry his daughter off to someone respectable and when the previous minister set his amorous sites on another woman, Winter basically had him fired. When Robert Jordan arrived he was fair game.
But it would also seem that Robert had some ambition to become better financially connected so Sarah was a prize all around.
Soon after Robert Jordan was named executor of Winter’s will, the businessman died. Jordan wasted not time in scooping up property and an inheritance that left him well off for the rest of his days. It is intriguing to see my 8th great grandfather’s signature on a court document from 1663.
He was also no stranger to controversy. Despite being warned by the local Puritan community not to “practice” his Church of England clerical role, he continued to baptize and marry people using the Book of Common Prayer. For these actions he was charged and jailed twice, in 1654 and 1663. The baptismal font that he brought with him from England in 1637 is currently on display at the Portland museum.
He saved a woman from being killed as being a witch sometime before the Salem witch trials of 1992. It seems that the Puritans of the district were pretty much convinced of the evil acts of some women they labeled as witches
Robert and Sarah had a eight children, one of whom was Dominicus Jordan, my 7th great grandfather. He, too, has an interesting history, ending up being scalped by Indians and his family kidnapped to Quebec. Another story.
The district where Robert ended up owning a large plantation was overwhelmed by Indians (they had not come up with the Native American term yet) and Robert and Sarah had to move to New Hampshire for safety. The home where he and Sarah lived (39 Wentworth Road, New Castle, New Hampshire) still stands. He died there in 1679 at age 68 (the age I am now).
There are now hundreds of descendants of Robert and Sarah living around the world. There is even a Family Trust set up in their name by their very extended family. Story has it that the Jordan name originated when Richard the Lion-hearted awarded the name to Sir William Deardon, a 12th Century knight, for bravery during the Crusades (and at the Jordan River). He was apparently knocked off his horse but bounced up to overcome his opponent. Hence the Latin Motto on the Jordan Coat of Arms – Percussa resurgo – Struck down, I arise. Reminds me of Corey Hart’s Never Surrender. Not a bad motto.
Enjoyed your article and found it interesting. We are distant cousins as Rev. Robert Jordan was also my 8th grandfather. The Jordan family played a very prominent role in New England history thanks for your story.
Thanks for your comment, Jeffrey. I am a long way from being a Jordan but this history intrigued me. There are a lot of Jordan’s (and others) throughout the US and Canada who are descendants of this guy.
The house in New Castle has undergone changes this week, the addition and garage removed, the yard is being dug up for more construction, appears to be full of broken up ticks. The house was saved, I have photos of what is left today.
I could believe the land that the current house sits on could be Jordan land, but not the house itself. Houses in the mid 1600’s were not constructed in this manner. I also am a direct descendant of Rev. Jordan and still live in New Castle, NH.
I am sure that it is not the original house. Although the design of the front part of the old house bears resemblance and there may be a few pieces of the original structure that remain. Thanks for the comment, cuz!