Cicely Jordan Farrar

Cicely Jordan Farrar

Cicely Jordan Farrar

Cicely Jordan Ferrar  was an early settler and Ancient Planter of colonial Jamestown. She came to the colony as a child, in 1611.[1] Nothing is known of her origins, or who she traveled with. She married three times, and died sometime after 1631.[1]


First Marriage

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 Baley, 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 Baley 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 Baley.[4]

Second Marriage

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 Baley, W. upon Capt. Woodlief, etc.[3]

On the tract of 388 acres mentioned in the patent ("...towards land of Temperance Baley, 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.[1] 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

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.[6]

On 4 June 1633, the Council called Isaac Maddeson, Pooley's reluctant go-between, to testify as to whether Mrs Jordan had contracted herself to Rev Pooley:

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.[7]

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.[7]

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."[8]

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.[9]

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

It has been suggested that Cicely Farrar might have outlived her third husband and gone on to marry as a fourth husband Isaac Hutchins (whose will of 1658 mentioned his wife Cicely), and as a fifth husband Henry Sherman (who is proved to have married Isaac Hutchins's widow Cicely.)[10] [1] However, the evidence appears to make this unlikely. Sherman and his wife Cicely, who married after 1658, had at least four children; yet by 1658 Cicely Farrar, if still alive, would have been in her late 50s and unlikely to be still bearing children.

Alternatively, it has been suggested that Cicely Farrar might have married, as her fourth husband and his second wife,[11] Peter Montague of Lancaster County, VA, whose 1659 will mentioned a wife named Cicely.[12] No evidence has emerged to substantiate this theory. John Frederick Dorman suggests it is "More likely, but unproved, that ... [Cicely Montague] was Cicely, widow of Robert Jadwin, who later married Nicholas Jernew and left will dated 30 Jan. 1667/8 (Westmoreland Co. Deeds, Patents &c 1665-77,pp.32-32a) naming her Jadwin children, including son John [who married Peter Montague's daughter Anne] and grandson Bartholomew Jadwin [son of John Jadwin and Anne Montague]."[13]


Cicely Jordan had one child, Temperance Baley, 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 Baley,[4] 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 e f 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. ^ 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)
  7. ^ a b Kingsbury, Records of the Virginia Company of London, Vol. 4, pp218-220]
  8. ^ Safley, op.cit., p.895
  9. ^ "Minutes of the Council and General Court 1622-24 (Continued)", Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Jul., 1911),pp231-232
  10. ^ Henrico Co. Minute Book 1710-14, p51
  11. ^ A court record of Sep 12 1660 mentions "Cicily Montague, widdow, & Peter Montague, her sonne in law [stepson], both Executors of the Last Will & Testamt. of Mr. Peter Montague, dec'd". Lancaster Co., VA Ct. Orders 1656-1666, p. 12.
  12. ^ Dorman, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., v.2, p.653
  13. ^ Dorman, John Frederick, Adventurers of Purse and Person, 4th ed., v.2, p.653, n.15.

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