As was the custom of the time it was an absolute necessity for the safety of the early female settlers to have a male protector. For this reason we frequently find widows marrying within a few weeks or months following the death of their husbands. As a young widow Cecily 20, this proved to be true as she had married her much older neighbor and a cousin to her mother, Samuel Jordan 42, shortly before December 1620. Cecily was a year younger than Samuel Jordan's eldest son.
Samuel and Cecily settled at "Beggar's Bush" later renamed "Jordans Journey" near the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers southside. This plantation took its name from its founder, Capt. Samuel Jordan and appears to have embraced 450 acres. At least in 1625 Jordan was credited with this amount as being "planted" by patent in "the territory of greate Weyanoke." It has been said that he established Jordan's Journey, also known as Beggar's Bush, in 1619 although in the Assembly of 1619 he represented "Charles Citty." He was one of the Assembly Committee of four appointed to examine "the first booke of the fower" of the "Greate Charter." In 1622 Jordan received a share of Company stock from Mary Tue as well as 100 acres in "Diggs his Hundred." At this time he was listed as "Samuel Jordan of Charles Hundred gentleman."
Jordan's Journey seems to have prospered. At the time there were forty-two persons in residence and eight had died within the year. In 1625 the population stood at fifty-five persons (thirty-six males and nineteen females). Corn and fish supplies were adequate and there were some cattle and hogs as well a s numerous poultry. In the matter of houses, the total was quite large-being twenty-two. The plantation boasted of three boats and substantial amounts of small arms (thirty-eight) and armor of various types (thirty-six items). Cecily was expecting a second child (Margaret) at the time of Samuel's death at Jordan's Journey in the first months of 1623. Samuel Jordan is known to have died prior to the February 16, 1623, because in the census of Virginia colonists, his name is conspicuously missing from the list of inhabitants at Jordan's Journey:
“From Persons of Quality: A List of Names; of the Living in Virginia, February the 16, 1623, Living At Jordan's Jorney” Sislye Jordan Temperance Baylife Mary Jordan Margery Jordan William Farrar" (37 more names follow the above listed.) Samuel died at Jordan's Journey sometime in early 1623, and an inventory of his estate included his widow, Cecily and her two young daughters, two plantations, five houses, two boats, ten servants, and several coats of chain-mail. The Reverend Grivell Pooley, who had conducted Samuel's funeral, proposed to the widow Cicely within days of his funeral. She apparently consented but subsequently refused to go through with the wedding and accepted a second proposal from Col. William Farrar (the attorney who administered her husband's estate).
Cecily (Reynolds) Bailey - Jordan - Farrar Cecily Reynolds was born in England about 1600, immigrated to Jamestown on the Swan in 1610, and died in Virginia, presumably in the mid- to late-1600s. As such, she was one of the first European-born women to reach the New World. It is not known with any certainly why she left England, nor with whom she traveled. She was on her own from the age of 11, and grew into the much-courted and many times married "Glamour Girl" of the Jamestown Colony. She had good friendships with women as well as men; and by the time she was 24 years old, due to the death of her husband Samuel Jordan, she owned outright a successful plantation, Jordan's Landing, one of only four to continue operation after the Indian Massacre of 1622. Both Samuel and Cecily earned the designation "Ancient Planter" by the London Company of Virginia. Her first husband, a man named Bailey, fathered Cecily's first child, Temperance Bailey, but died soon thereafter. By the time she was 20, she married Samuel Jordan. She had one child with Samuel Jordan. During the course of that second marriage, Cicely encountered two men who were soon to compete to become her third spouse.
"CECILY" was said to have introduced the art of flirting in Virginia... she was the original southern belle, and no doubt beautiful for she won the hearts of some of the colony's outstanding citizens. The fascinating Cecily earned her reputation as a heartbreaker and a place in history when she became the object of the first breach of promise suit in America. There is much myth and speculation, but few facts truly known about this often married elusive lady of whom so many today claim descendancy. There has long been a mystery surrounding the little girl who arrived in Jamestown at the tender age of ten, and received the distinction of "Ancient Planter."
Following the death of Samuel, Cecily found herself the object of male devotion. In fact, there were rivals. Mr. or Rev. Greville Pooley, often characterized as a local parson, apparently soon declared his interest in her. Mr. Pooley apparently had the ingenious idea of marrying Cecily as both groom and parson, and greatly speeding up the whole process by combining proposal with ceremony. So fervent was his courtship that he believed he had succeeded in winning Cecily’s somewhat sworn hand. Shortly thereafter, it became obvious that Cecily preferred William Farrar, and intended to choose him. During the Indian attack of 1622, the young Farrar had taken refuge at Jordan’s Journey, had somehow failed to leave, and so he was very well known to her.
It is likely that Samuel Jordan made a will, but it does not survive. William Farrar was appointed as executor and overseer of Samuel Jordan's estate several months after his death. At a Court held on November 19, 1623, and presided over by Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor, and Christopher Davison, Secretary, records indicate that a warrant was issued "to Mr. Farrar to bring in the account of Mr. Jordan his estate by the last day of December." Another warrant was issued to "Mrs. Jordan, that Mr. Farrer put in security for the performance of her husbands will." An abstract of the orders were to be delivered to Sir George Yeardley.
After Samuel Jordan’s death in early 1623, Cecily 23, was left with daughter Mary 2, her eldest daughter Temperance Bailey 6, and another child soon to be delivered. Reverend Greville Pooley, age 46, who had conducted Samuel Jordan's funeral service knew there would be a rush for the hand of a wealthy, beautiful young wife. Samuel Jordan had been in his grave only a day when Pooley sent Capt. Isaac Madison to plead his suit. Cecily replied that she would as soon take Pooley as any other, but since she was pregnant, she would not engage herself she said, "until she was delivered." But the amorous Reverend could not wait, and came a few days later with Madison, telling her "he should contract himself to her" and spake these words: "I, Greville Pooley, take thee Sysley, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold till death do us part and herto I plight thee my troth." Then, holding her by the hand, Pooley said these words, "I, Sysley, take thee Greville, to my wedded husband, to have and to hold till death do us part." Cicily said nothing, but they drank to each other. Then, showing some delicacy about her condition and the situation she found herself in, she asked that it might not be revealed that she did so soon bestow her love after her husband's death. Pooley promised, but was soon boasting of his conquest, and this so ired the young widow that she refused to go through with the wedding.
Soon afterwards Cecily accepted another proposal of marriage and became engaged to William Farrar who had been living at Jordan's Journey since the massacre. Undaunted, the enraged Rev. Pooley brought suit for breach of promise to compel Cecily to marry him. When the Parson sued on June 14, 1623, he accused the lady of having jilted him and alleged that it was nothing short of "Skandelous" for Mr. Farrar, his rival, to be "in ordinary dyett in Mrs. Jordan's house and to frequent her Company alone." This was the celebrated case of its day. William Farrar, trained for the law in England and the executor of Samuel Jordan's estate, was enlisted by Cecily to represent her.
The First Lawsuit in the New World On 14 June 1623, Rev. Pooley instituted the very first breach of promise suit in America. According to The Records of the Virginia Company of London (vol. 4, p. 218): “Captain Isack Maddeson sworne and examined saith that (as near as he remenbeth) 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 Samuel Jordan’s baby. 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 ant 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 bestow her love, after her husbands death; whereupon Mr. Pooley promised before God that he would not reveal it, till she thought the time fitting. Mary Maddeson sworne and examined saith, that she was not present at the making of the supposed contract between Mr. Pooley and Mrs. Jordan say if Mr. Pooley had not revealed it he might have fared better and saith further that her husband told her that night, that Mrs. Jordan had made her self sure to Mr. Pooley, but what words passed her husband did not particularly repeat, but spake of their drinking to the other and of Mr. Pooley saluting her. John Harris sworne and examined saith that he heard Mrs. Jordan say tha Mr. Pooley maught thank himself for he might fared the better but for his own words.”
His suit was, essentially, the New World’s first breach-of-promise suit. He continued the suit for years, but, meanwhile, Cicely married William Farrar, an attorney himself. The legal problems with Mr. Pooley ended with his death during an Indian battle in about 1629.
The Governor and Council could not bring themselves to decide the questions and continued the matter until November 27, 1623, then referred the case to the Council for Virginia in London, "desiring the resolution of the civil lawyers thereon and a speedy return thereof." But they declined to make a decision and returned it, saying they "knew not how to decide so nice a difference." Reverend Pooley was finally persuaded by the Reverend Samuel Purchase to drop the case. As a result on January 3, 1625, the Reverend Pooley signed an agreement freely acquitting Mrs. Jordan from her promises. Cecily then formally "contracted herself before the Governor and Council to Captain William Farrar."
The Governor and Council of the Colony were so stirred by the extraordinary incident that they issued a solemn proclamation against a woman engaging herself to more than one man at a time. Passage of this law for the protection of Virginia bachelors gave Cecily a place in history. And there is not in Virginia any known record that this edict has ever been revoked.
Historic marker from the Virginia Dept. Historic Resources, at the site of "Jordan's Journey", on the south shore of the James River near Hopewell, Virginia, mentioning Cicely Jordan in the closing sentence.
Cecily And William Farrar During the course of the lawsuit in which he successfully defended Cecily, William Farrar performed the duties of executor of Samuel Jordan's estate in 1623 (Jordan's will does not survive). At a Court held on November 19, 1623, and presided over by Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor, and Christopher Davison, Secretary, records indicate that a warrant was issued "to Mr. Farrar to bring in the account of Mr. Jordan his estate by the last day of December."
Within the first year of their marriage William Farrar was given a position of great responsibility when on March 4, 1625/6, Charles I appointed him a member of the King's Council, a position he probably held until just prior to his death in 1636. William and Cecily Farrar continued to reside at Jordan's Journey after their marriage.
The achievement for which Cecily's husband William Farrar is most remembered is the establishment of Farrar's Island, an estate their descendants would own for 100 years. It was located in what is now Henrico Co. Virginia on a bend in the James River at the former site of the city of Henricus, the second settlement of the colony. The estate consisted of 2000 acres, very large for its day, granted to William Farrar for the transportation of 40 settlers. It was not until after William Farrar's death in 1636, at the age of 54, that the patent for Farrar's Island was granted posthumously by King Charles I to his and Cecily's son William Farrar II on June 11, 1637. Presumably thrice widowed Cecily Farrar continued to raise her six children at Farrar's Island.
Today in Smithfield, Virginia at the location of "Jordan's Journey," there now stands a historical marker which reads: "SAMUEL JORDAN OF JORDAN'S JOURNEY Prior to 1619, Native Americans occupied this prominent peninsula along the upper James River, now called Jordan's Point. Arriving in Jamestown by 1610, Samuel Jordan served in July 1619 in Jamestown as a burgess for Charles City in the New Word's oldest legislative assembly. A year later, he patented a 450 acre-tract here known first as Beggar's Bush and later as Jordan's Journey. He survived the massive Powhatan Indian attack of March 1622 here at his plantation, a palisaded fort that enclosed 11 buildings. He remained at Jordan's Journey with his wife, Cicely, and their daughters until his death in 1623."
Samuel Jordan is also honored with his name being included on the monument at Jamestown. Today there are impressive brick entrance gates to "Jordan On The James," a high-end residential development. On the pillar is a small insert "c. 1619." In the development there is a road called "Beggars Bush" and outside is "Jordan's Point Road." Nearby one can play golf at Jordan's Point Country Club. The location of Samuel and Cecily Jordan's house, which has perished, was where the base of the Benjamin Harrison Bridge is now that connects both sides of the river. The Jordan Point Yacht Haven is now located at site next to the bridge.
A well known church in the area "St. Lukes" has several stained glass windows in memory of the Jordan Family.