Cicely Jordan Farrar

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Cicely Jordan Farrar was an early settler and Ancient Planter of colonial Jamestown. She came to the colony as a child aboard the "Swan", in 1611.[1] She was the only child of Capt. Thomas Reynolds and Jane Phippen Pierce. She married three times, and died sometime after 1631.[1]

First Marriage[edit]

Cicely Jordan Ferrar's first marriage is inferred from circumstantial evidence. In the census taken in 1623,[2] and also in the 1624/5 Muster, a child, Temperance Bailey, is shown living with Cicely Jordan and her family. The 1624 muster provides the additional information that the child was "borne in Virginia" in 1617. Temperance Bailey is mentioned as an adjacent landholder in the 1620 patent of Cicely's husband Samuel Jordan,[3] proving that the child had ownership of her land by the time she was three years old, and therefore must have been the sole heir of her (deceased) father. Since she lived with Cicely, and no guardian's record has been found, the conclusion is that Temperance was probably Cicely's daughter by a first marriage to the unknown Bailey.[4]

Second Marriage[edit]

By 1620, Cicely was married to Samuel Jordan, as shown by the wording of his patent (dated September 10, 1620): Samuel Jourdan of Charles Citty in Virga. Gent, an ancient planter who hath abode ten years Compleat in this Colony and performed all services to the Colony that might any way concern him etc and to his heirs and assignes for ever for part of his first genll. dividend to be augmented &c, 450 acs. on his personal right, etc. and ...[for] the personall claim of Cecily his wife an ancient planter also of nine years continuance, one hundred acres more and the other 250 acs. in recompence of his trans. out of England at his own charges of five servants, namely John Davies, who arrived in 1617 for whose passage the sd. Samuel hath paid to the Cape. Mercht., Thomas Matterdy bound apprentice to sd. Samuel by indenture in England dated 8 Oct 1617; Robert Marshall brought out of England by Capt. Bargrave in May 1619, at the costs of sd. Samuel; Alice Wade the same year in the George, etc., & Thomas Steed in the Faulcon in July 1620; and maketh choice in 3 several places: one house & 50 acs. called --ilies Point [Bailies Point] in Charles hundred, bordering E. upon the gr. river, W. upon the main land, S. upon John Rolfe and N. upon the land of Capt. John Wardeefe [Woodlief]; 2ndly, 1 tenement containing 12 acs., etc., encompassed on the W. by Martins Hope, now in tenure of Capt. John Martin, Master of the Ordinance; & 388 acs. in or near upon Sandys his hundred, towards land of Temperance Bailey, W. upon Capt. Woodlief, etc.[3]

On the tract of 388 acres mentioned in the patent ("...towards land of Temperance Bailey, W. upon Capt. Woodlief..."), Samuel Jordan established a plantation known as "Jordan's Journey".[5] The two censuses show that two children were born from Cicely's marriage to Samuel Jordan: Mary, born around 1621, and Margaret, born in 1623, after her father's death.

Jordan died before April 1623.[6] In November 1623, administration of his estate was granted to fellow-colonist William Farrar, a relative of Nicholas Ferrar, a leading member of the Virginia Company.

Dispute with Rev. Greville Pooley[edit]

Immediately following the death of Samuel Jordan, Greville Pooley made a proposal of marriage to the widow. His advances were apparently not welcomed by Cecily Jordan, who was then pregnant with her deceased husband's younger child. Pooley claimed however that his offer had been accepted, and complained to the court, seeking to hold her to what he claimed was her promise. The ensuing case provides an interesting insight into changing attitudes toward marriage in English law and society in the early modern period.[7]

On 4 June 1623, the Council called Isaac Maddeson, Pooley's reluctant go-between, to testify as to whether Mrs Jordan had contracted herself to Rev Pooley:

The case was referred to London, with the following note:

This Woman before Mr Grivell Pooley called her into the Court, contracted her self to Mr Willm Ferrar: before the Governor and Counsell disavowing the former and affirminge the latter: Wee (not knowinge how to decide so nice a difference, our devines not takeinge uppon them precisely to determine, whether it be a formall and legal contract desire the resolution of the Civill Lawiers, and a speedy return thereof.[8]

This note spells out very clearly the confusion as to whether marriage disputes were to be resolved under canon or civil law, and seems to confirm Stone's assertion in The Road to Divorce that "Marriage law as it operated in England from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries was a mess."[9]

Cicely Jordan's was not the only case of its kind in Virginia in this period. In June 1624 the Council in Virginia ordered that:

...the next Saboth day in the tyme of devine service Elinor Sprage shall publickly before the Congregatione, Acknowleg her offence in contractinge her selfe to two severall men at one tyme, and penetently Confessinge her falte shall ask god and the Congregationes forgiveness.

And to prevent the like offence in others it is ordered that every minister give notice in his church to all his parishioners y' wt man or woman wtsoeuer shall vse wordes Amountinge to a Contract of mariage to severall psons though not precise and legall, yet soe as may intangle and brede scrouple in their Conseyences, shall for such their offence shall vnder goe either Corporall punishment as by whippinge or otherwyse by or other temporall parishiness as by find or other wyse Accordinge to ye qualletie of ye pson offendinge.[10]

Eventually, in January 1625, Pooley withdrew his claim. Cicely Jordan then married William Farrar. She died sometime after 1631 (when she was mentioned in a deed); her exact year of death is unknown.[1]


Cicely Jordan had one child, Temperance Bailey, from her first (presumed) marriage; two children, Mary and Margaret Jordan, from her marriage to Samuel Jordan; and three children, Cicely, William and John, from her marriage to William Farrar. There are many proven descendants from Cicely's presumed daughter Temperance Bailey,[4] who married Richard Cocke and from her son William Farrar.[1] Nothing is known of her daughters Mary and Margaret Jordan after their appearance in the 1624 Muster.


  1. ^ a b c d Dorman, John Frederick, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., v1 pp926-929
  2. ^ "The Living and Dead in Virginia, Feb. 16, 1623"
  3. ^ a b Nugent, Cavaliers and Pioneers, 226
  4. ^ a b Dorman, op.cit. p120
  5. ^ Virginia: the First Seventeen Years, Charles E. Hatch Jr, U. of VA Press, 1957, p67
  6. ^ Dorman, John Frederick, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., v1 p928
  7. ^ In The Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800, Penguin, 1979, Lawrence Stone writes that "the critical change under consideration is that from distance, deference and patriarchy to what I have chosen to call Affective Individualism," -- a change Stone described as "the most important change in mentalite to have occurred in the Early Modern period, indeed possibly in the last thousand years of Western history." (Quoted in Safley, Thomas Max, untitled book review, The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 895-898)
  8. ^ a b Kingsbury, Records of the Virginia Company of London, Vol. 4, pp218-220
  9. ^ Safley, op.cit., p.895
  10. ^ "Minutes of the Council and General Court 1622-24 (Continued)", Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 19, No. 3 (July 1911), pp231-232