JORDAN, Nicholas (1570-1629), of the Inner Temple, London and East Street, Chichester, Suss.; formerly of Horsham, Suss.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1604-1629, ed. Andrew Thrush and John P. Ferris, 2010
Available from Cambridge University Press



Family and Education

bap. 8 Mar. 1570, yr. s. of Thomas Jordan (d.1582) of Brasted, Kent and Joan.1 educ. Lyon’s Inn; I. Temple 1589, called 1597.2 m. (1) by 1600 Mary (bur. 14 June 1608), 2s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da.;3 (2) lic. 3 Dec. 1608,4 with £1,000, Benedicta (bur. 11 Sept. 1609), da. of Stephen Barnham† of Southover, nr. Lewes, Suss., 1ch. d.v.p.;5 (3) ?by Jan. 1614,6 Margaret (d. 4 May 1619), da. of William Morley† of Glynde Place, Suss., wid. of Ninian Board of Lindfield, Suss., s.p.;7 (4) by Nov. 1623, Jane (bur. 25 Jan. 1626), da. and coh. of William Grice†, clerk of the Stables, of Great Yarmouth, Norf., wid. of Thomas Fantleroy, 1da. d.v.p. bur. 2 Aug. 1629.8

Offices Held

J.p. Suss. 1602-d.,9 Chichester 28 July-25 Oct. 1617;10 bailiff, Horsham 1603-4;11 commr. sewers, Suss. 1604, 1617-at least 1625;12 subsidy 1621-2, 1624-6,13 Forced Loan 1627,14 oyer and terminer 1627,15 martial law 1627.16

Bencher, I. Temple 1613,17 reader 1614.18


Jordan grew up in the same Kentish village as the future chief justice, Robert Heath*, who also became an Inner Temple barrister. The surname of his first wife is unknown, but she may have been a relative of John Middleton*, a prominent inhabitant of the Sussex borough of Horsham, where Jordan himself settled. In 1602 Jordan appeared for Middleton in the Court of Requests, and in the following year he joined Middleton in purchasing the Surrey manor of Merstham, later resold for £700; he was also appointed overseer of Middleton’s father’s will.19 As bailiffs of the borough, Jordan and Middleton served together as returning officers for Horsham at the 1604 election.

Appointed to the Sussex bench in 1602, Jordan became one of the most diligent of the county’s magistrates. He was also active in the Sussex land market, but, unlike Middleton, failed to acquire a parliamentary interest of his own.20 His second marriage, in 1608, was to the daughter of a wealthy Londoner who had represented Chichester in 1601.21 This union proved short-lived, and by 1614 Jordan had taken a third wife, the sister of Robert Morley*. He subsequently moved to Chichester: certainly he was resident there by 1617, when he was appointed to the city’s commission of the peace.22 In September of that year Samuel Harsnett, the bishop of Chichester, complained to the custos rotulorum of the city, Thomas Howard, earl of Arundel, that Jordan was one of two lawyers who had ‘lately crept into their commission without notice, love, or liking of their bench’. The bishop had no personal objection to Jordan, ‘a grave, staid, and temperate gentleman’, but stated he was ‘hateful to the whole incorporation’ and the following month Jordan was omitted from the commission.23

In 1624 Heath recommended Jordan to Sir Edward Conway I* to serve as his steward on the Isle of Wight, calling him ‘learned, honest and discreet, and my very friend’, and pointing out that he was already a freeholder there. He added that ‘Sir George Goring*, my worthy friend, knoweth the gentleman well’.24 Two years later the earl of Arundel, probably prompted by Heath, made diligent efforts to secure Jordan’s election to Parliament. He first tried to nominate him at Steyning, entrusting letters of nomination to Richard Gravett, the Sussex steward of the earl of Middlesex (Sir Lionel Cranfield*). However, Gravett believed the cause hopeless and returned the letter undelivered to Arundel at the epiphany quarter sessions.25 At this time Jordan denied any wish to be elected, but he subsequently changed his mind after receiving a letter from Heath and, with the assistance of Arundel’s steward, secured a seat at Arundel.26

Jordan needs to be distinguished from the merchant Ignatius Jourdain, who sat for Exeter in the second Caroline Parliament; however as the latter was the more experienced parliamentarian it is likely that most references to ‘Mr. Jordan’ in the parliamentary records refer to him. Only one speech can be definitely attributed to Jordan, on 8 Mar. 1626, when the diarist Bulstrode Whitelocke identified the speaker as ‘the lawyer’. On this occasion Jordan stated that he was ‘of the opinion that generally the House is’, that is to say, that the replies of the Council of War to the questions put to it by the Commons were inadequate, and that the inquiries made by the House were legitimate as the 1624 Subsidy Act had made the Council accountable to the Commons.27 Jordan was specifically named to two committees for private bills, concerning the estates of Richard Fust (1 June) and Richard Bulkeley* (10 June). On the latter date he was also added to the committee for another private bill, concerning the claim by the widow of Sir Thomas Dale about money owed to her late husband by the East India Company.28

Later in 1626 Jordan secured a lease of land in Selsey from the Chichester chapter, although his subsidy assessment was reduced from £20 to £6.29 There is no evidence that he sought re-election in 1628. He was buried on 2 Aug. 1629 in the parish of St. Peter the Great, Chichester. No will or grant of administration has been found and no other member of the family sat in Parliament.30

Ref Volumes: 1604-1629

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Brasted par. reg. (Soc. Gen. transcript); PROB 11/186, f. 235.
  • 2. I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 3. Par. Reg. of Horsham ed. R. Garraway Rice (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxi), 198, 204, 210, 214, 366, 369.
  • 4. Cal. of Suss. Mar. Lics. ed. E.H.W. Dunkin (Suss. Rec. Soc. i), 67.
  • 5. PROB 11/111, f. 80; Par. Reg. of Horsham, 371.
  • 6. Glynde Place Archives ed. R.F. Dell, 27.
  • 7. Vis. Suss. (Harl. Soc. lxxxix), 15; W. Berry, County Gens.: Peds. of the Fams. in Co. of Suss. 175.
  • 8. PROB 11/142, f. 231; Vis. Norf. (Harl. Soc. xxxii), 188; Add. 5699, f. 183v.
  • 9. C231/1, f. 128; ASSI 35/71/10.
  • 10. C231/4, ff. 48, 50.
  • 11. C219/35/2/83.
  • 12. C181/1, f. 81v; 181/2, f. 292v; 181/3, f. 167v.
  • 13. SP14/122/89; C212/22/21, 23; Fletcher, 204.
  • 14. C193/12/2, f. 59v.
  • 15. C181/3, f. 216v.
  • 16. CSP Dom. 1627-8, p. 461.
  • 17. I. Temple database of admiss.
  • 18. CITR, ii. 79.
  • 19. Misc. Gen. et Her. n.s. iv. 227; REQ 2/186/35; Manning and Bray, Surr. ii. 257; PROB 11/109, f. 112v.
  • 20. Fletcher, 220; VCH Suss. vi. pt. 2, p. 209; pt. 3, p. 115.
  • 21. HP Commons, 1558-1603, i. 398-9.
  • 22. Glynde Place Archives, 30.
  • 23. M.A. Tierney, Hist. and Antiqs. of Castle and Town of Arundel, 433.
  • 24. SP14/175/64.
  • 25. Procs. 1626, iv. 253.
  • 26. Arundel, Autograph Letters 1617-32, Peers to Spiller, 16 Jan. 1626.
  • 27. Procs. 1626, ii. 231, 233.
  • 28. Ibid. ii. 340, 414.
  • 29. Acts of Dean and Chapter of Cath. Church of Chichester ed. W.D. Peckham (Suss. Rec. Soc. lviii), 232; Fletcher, 204.
  • 30. Add. 5699, f. 183v.