Family Histories

Family Histories for the Rose and Kirkpatrick Families

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - The Mysterious Cicely Jordan

I have not kept up with this writing prompt every week, however, now that life has settled a bit, I hope to continue with it weekly.

While researching the Jordan line of my father's (Rose) family, I ran across the second wife of my 11th great-grandfather, Samuel Jordan (I am descended from the first marriage).  Samuel was born in Wiltshire, England and immigrated to the Virginia colony in June of 1609.  He was part of a fleet of nine ships, called the Third Supply, carrying 500 settlers for the colony.  The fleet was caught in a storm that sank one ship and shipwrecked the flagship, the Seaventure, off the coast of Bermuda.  Samuel was aboard this ship, along with the Governor of the Virginia Colony, Sir Thomas Gates.  The seven remaining ships arrived in Jamestown in August of 1609, bringing 300 settlers; the next several months saw the colony reduced from 500 to just 50 people, due to starvation conditions.  Finally in the spring of 1610, when the survivors were about to abandon the colony, the leaders who had been aboard the Seaventure arrived in the pinnace Deliverance.  The colonists of Jamestown  were boarded onto the Deliverance and Patience to be returned to England, when Lord Delaware's three ships arrived and met them on the James River.  The ships and their supplies allowed the colony to continue.  (Two of the victims of the Seaventure's wreck were John Rolfe's wife and child; Rolfe would later marry Chief Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas.)

Samuel was a widower with young children at the time of his immigration to Virginia.  Another young immigrant in 1610 was Cecily Reynolds, daughter of Thomas Reynolds and Cecily Phippen of London.  (Cecily Phippen was Samuel Jordan's first cousin; her mother's name was Cecily Jordan.)  Cecily came to Virginia aboard the Swan; her uncle Capt. William Pierce and his wife Joan were her chaperones.  She was born about 1601; her first marriage was in 1615, which would have made her 14 at the time, a normal age for a girl to marry then.  She must have been an attractive young woman; she is referred to as the "glamour girl" of the Jamestown Colony, was courted by many men and had friendships with both the men and women of the colony.  In 1615 she married Thomas Bailey (or Baley) in Virginia.  Their daughter, Temperance, was born in 1617.  (Temperance Bailey would later marry Col. Richard Cocke, a prominent Virginia planter whose descendants include members of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson's families, as well as George Bush.)  The marriage only lasted five years before Thomas died of malaria in 1620.

In 1621, Cecily married widower Samuel Jordan and became the stepmother to his four sons. At age 20, she was a mother to five children and mistress of a large plantation.  By this time Samuel had become a very prosperous planter, owning a plantation on the Appomattox River, and was a member of the House of Burgesses in Charles City.   The Jordans had three children together:  Mary, born 1621; Margaret, born 1623; and Richard, born 1624.  The family survived the Indian Massacre of 1622 (with the exception of Samuel's son Robert, who was killed trying to warn neighbors of the attack), having one of four fortified plantations in the area.  They brought their neighbors into their home, Beggar's Bush, on Jordan's Journey, including neighbor William Farrar, who rowed from Farrar's Island to Jordan's Journey in the dark to escape the attacking Indians.  He remained there for the next six years.  A survey in 1623 shows 42 people residing at Beggar's Bush, many of them neighbors who had taken refuge during the Indian attacks and whose homes had been destroyed.
William Farrar

In April of 1623, Samuel died at the age of 45.  Cecily's story takes an interesting turn here, as she was apparently pregnant at the time of her husband's death.  Within four days of Samuel's death, Cecily agreed to marry Rev. Greville Pooley.  Because she was pregnant, Cecily asked that the engagement be kept secret, but Rev. Pooley was so impressed with having won her hand, he couldn't help but spread the news.  Cecily was furious and refused to go through with the wedding, prompting Rev. Pooley to file the first breach of contract lawsuit in the Colonies.  In June 1623, the Virginia Council called Issac Maddeson, Pooley's go-between, to testify:  Captain Isack Maddeson sworne and examined saith that (as near as he remembreth) the first motion to him by Mr. Grivell, touching a match with Mrs. Jordan was about three or four days after the Mr. Jordan’s death, who entreating this examinant to move the matter to her, he answered he was unwilling to meddle in any such business; but being urged by him he did move it. Mrs. Jordan replied that she would as willingly have him as any other, but she would not marry any man until she delivered. After this Mr. Pooley (having had some private talk with Mrs. Jordan) told this examinant that he had contracted himself unto her, and desired him and his wife to be witnesses of it, whereupon Mr. Pooley desiring a dram of Mrs. Jordan, and she bidding her servant fitch it said he would have it of her fetching or not at all. Then she went into a room, and the examinant and Mr. Pooley went to her, but whether she were privy to his intent this examinant knoweth not; when Mr. Pooley was come of her, he told her he would contract himself unto her and spake these words. I Grivell Pooley take thee Sysley to my wedded wife, to have and to hold till death us depart and there to I plight thee my troth. Then (holding her by the hand) he spake these words I Sysley take thee Grivell to my wedded husband, to have and to hold till death us depart; but this examinant heard not her say any of those words, neither doth he remember that Mr. Pooley asked her whether she did consent to those words or that she did answer any things which he understood. then Mr. Pooley and she drank each to other and he kissed her and spake these words, I am thine and thou art mine till death us separate. Mrs. Jordan then desired that it might not be revealed that she did so soon her love, after her husbands death; whereupon Mr. Pooley promised before God that he would not reveal it, till she thought the time fitting.

The case was referred to London with this 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.

Mr. Pooley finally gave up and withdrew his claim.  Cecily is reported to have said "Mr. Pooley maught thank himself for he might fared the better but for his own words."

Cecily gave birth to Richard Jordan in 1624.  While no exact date for his birth is given, if Samuel Jordan were his father, it would have had to be very early in the year.  She is reported in a Jamestown Muster for 1624 as residing at Jordan's Journey with 37 others, including her three children.  Either her youngest child had not yet been born, or one of her older daughters with Jordan, Margaret, had already died (there are no records for her after birth and she is believed to have died in 1624).

On May 2, 1625, Cecily married William Farrar, who had been living in her home since the Indian Massacres in 1622.  Farrar had immigrated from London in 1618 aboard the Neptune, and was an investor in the Virginia Company.   Cecily and William had three children:  William, born 1627; Cecily, born 1630; and John, born 1632.  The family lived on Farrar's Island until William's death in 1637 at the age of 54.  Cecily would have been about 36 at this time.  She was a wealthy widow with a great deal of land from two of her marriages and was apparently very attractive and desirable.  Not surprisingly, she was soon married again.

Husband number four was Peter Montague, whom she married in 1639 and had a daughter, Margaret, with in 1640.  This was Cecily's longest marriage; she and Peter were married until his death in 1659.  Peter was also one of the first immigrants to the Virginia colony, having sailed from England on the Charles in 1621.  Cecily was the third of three wives and he had several children from his second marriage.  Peter was a member of the House of Burgesses and a commissioner and sheriff for Lancaster county.

Cecily's fifth and last marriage was in 1660, to Thomas Parker.   They were married for three years before he died in 1664.  Cecily apparently lived until 1677, although there are no records for her after her husband's death.  The biographer of Cecily's brother Christopher Reynolds, referred to her as the "Mysterious Cecily Jordan."  She was a mother to eight and an ancestor to many of the most prominent families in the country.  She certainly lived an interesting and eventful life during an important time in our country's history.


  1. Thanx for the read. I am hunting for the ghost of Thomas Parker.

  2. I am not sure if the previous comment posted, so I am trying again! Hi there... I think we are Cousins! I know I descend from the Rose family through the Scott family. I also am allied to the Farrar family through my Bradfield line. I am originally from Texas, but I live in Ohio, now. I would love to know the origin of the William Farrar portrait... that is how I found your page! Would you like to correspond? I have a tree up on and recently did a DNA test there. Great to find you!

  3. My grandfather was Peter Montague that died in 1659 and who married a Cecily. They had a son (also named Peter) that is also my grandfather and who was born in Nansemond (Sufforlk) in 1638.

  4. My grandfather was Peter Montague that died in 1659 and who married a Cecily. They had a son (also named Peter) that is also my grandfather and who was born in Nansemond (Sufforlk) in 1638.

  5. William Farrar was my ggggg Grandfather he had William Farrar --then he had Thomas Farrar --he had Katherine Farrar she married William Barnet they had Nancy Barnet she married William Nuckols they had Susannah Nuckols she married Edward T Nuckols and lived in Barren Ky They were 1st cousins They had Thomas Nuckols married to Margaret Griffith they had Moses Gain Knuckles married to Amy Griffith they had my Grandmother Mary Catherine Knuckles married to Benjamin Howard Bostic and lived in Avert Missouri close to Bloomfield they had my father Floyd Eugene Bostic
    Gayla Brookman

  6. Am in Marietta also and found your blog by googling Samuel Jordan. His parents, from Devon, England, were my husband's 12th great grandparents. Just wanted to say hello, and thanks for writing the facts up so well about Cecily and her life in Virginia. I've seen that Samuel died in Barbados, but do believe he died in Virginia. Have you seen the book published in 2011 which is the archeological report of Jordan's Journey? It's available on Amazon and called, "Jordan's Point Virginia" by Martha McCarthy. Lots of photos and information on the many artifacts found at the site since 1992. Sincerely, Laura Armstrong, Marietta

  7. Thanks for the information, Laura, I will look for that book.

  8. Just saw "Finding Your Roots," the episode with Doogie Houser (Neil Patrick Harris)...that aired the other night. He is a descendent of Cecily and Samuel also, and the show did an interesting segment on the drama. You can probably still catch it "On Demand" if you are comcast or xfinity.

  9. Just saw "Finding Your Roots," the episode with Doogie Houser (Neil Patrick Harris)...that aired the other night. He is a descendent of Cecily and Samuel also, and the show did an interesting segment on the drama. You can probably still catch it "On Demand" if you are comcast or xfinity.

  10. My 9th g grandfather is William Farrar. I was wondering if you could provide info on how you were able to obtain the picture of the portrait of him shown in this post. Thanks!

    1. William and Cecily are my 9th great grandparents as well, so hi cousin!

    2. They are also my 9th great grandparents.

  11. Please provide the source information for the image of William Farrar. Thank you.

  12. I would appreciate your providing the source information for your interesting piece on Cecily Jordan & also the source for the signed portrait of William Farrar. Without source citing this very nice writing is apocryphal. Won't you please help us out with these? It would be much appreciated indeed.
    Thank you Pam