We know that Elizabeth Reynolds, daughter of Christopher Reynolds, married Richard Jordan. But was he Richard Jordan Sr. or Richard Jordan Jr.? Many genealogists believe it was the former, but the evidence clearly favors the latter.
Let’s explore the facts:
What do we know about Elizabeth Reynolds?
She was under 15 and unmarried on 1 May 1654. Her father’s will, dated 1 May 1654, charges his widow with “the ordering and bringing up [of]… Elizabeth & Jane until they be fifteen years of age.”1
She married sometime between 1654 and 1668 and had a son named Richard Jordan sometime before 1669. Her brother John Reynolds’ will, dated 1 March 1668/9, leaves “to sister Eliza. Jordan a bill of Robert Collier’s for 800 lbs. tbo… after her decease to her son Richard Jordan.”2
There is no doubt she was married to Richard Jordan. The question is whether her husband was Richard Jordan Sr. or Richard Jordan Jr. And whether her son was Richard Jordan Jr. or Richard Jordan III.
The case for Richard Jordan Sr.
We know that Richard Jordan Sr. was known to the Reynolds family, for he bought land near Christopher Reynolds in 1653. Christopher Reynolds’ will devises land “on the southerly side of the freshet swamp that Richard Jordan now liveth upon.”3 Later, he was assigned a patent by Christopher Reynolds Jr.4 Of course, by itself, this does not tell us whether he was Elizabeth Reynolds’ husband or her father-in-law.
The only records of a wife of Richard Jordan Sr. give her name as “Alice”. Alice Jordan released dower in his sale of land and in his gift to his son John Jordan, both in 1679.5 And he posted bond for maintenance of his wife Alice the same year. 6 Therefore, if he did marry Elizabeth Reynolds, she must have died in the ten years between 1669 and 1679.
Why do some researchers think he was married to Elizabeth Reynolds? Because they think his son was not old enough to have been her husband. That is, the case for Richard Jordan Sr. as the wife of Elizabeth Reynolds rests almost entirely on eliminating his son as a candidate.
A Flawed Assumption
But can we really eliminate Richard Jordan Jr. as a potential husband? Consider the probable age of Richard Reynolds Jr. If he were the son named in John Reynolds will, he would have been born no earlier than 1655. [Even if Elizabeth Reynolds married the day after her father’s will, a son would not have been born until 1655.] Yet we have a “Richard Jordan Jr.” witnessing a deed in Isle of Wight on 11 January 1661/2 for land formerly owned by Christopher Reynolds. 7 And in 1667 a “Richard Jordan Jr.” witnessed the will of a neighbor in Isle of Wight8 while Richard Jordan “Senr.” signed a petition.9 We know of no other Richard Jordans anywhere in the area. Therefore this suggests that Richard Jordan Jr. was roughly the same age as Elizabeth Reynolds.
We also have the fact that Richard Jordan Jr. was a taxpayer beginning in 1673 in Surry County. The tithables record tells us that Richard Jordan Jr. was at least 21 by 10 June 1673, meaning that he must have been born before Christopher Reynolds’ will was written. He cannot possibly be the child of Elizabeth Reynolds, but he could be her husband
Finally, we know that Richard Jordan Jr. had a tithable son of his own named Richard Jordan III in his household beginning in 1685. That son was therefore born no later than mid-1669. Clearly Richard Reynolds Jr. cannot be the child of Elizabeth and must be her husband.
The bottom line is that the theory that Elizabeth Reynolds married Richard Jordan Sr. cannot survive once we consider the records for Richard Jordan Jr. I believe this theory was formed before the Surry County records were inspected. Once we consider those, it seems clear that Richard Jordan Jr. cannot be the son of Elizabeth Reynolds.
The case for Richard Jordan Jr.
This theory rests on three pieces of evidence, the first two already covered above:
- The Surry tithables records tell us that Richard Jordan Jr. was born no later than 1652, and therefore could not have been the son of Elizabeth Reynolds, who was unmarried in 1655. The same records tell us that his son Richard Jordan III was born about the time of John Reynolds’ will in 1669. Since Richard Jordan Jr. can’t have been her son, he must have been her husband — and it was Richard Jordan III who was her son.
- Richard Jordan Jr. appears as a witness in Isle of Wight in 1662 and again in 1667, indicating he was an adult (or close to it) by 1662. That makes him even older, born 1641 or earlier. That would make him about the same age as Elizabeth Reynolds and probably older.
- While Richard Jordan Sr.’s wife was named “Alice”, we have several records that tell us Richard Jordan Jr.’s wife was named “Elizabeth”. We know she was his wife at least as early as 1677, for his will says that his son Charles Reynolds (who was born about 1677) is to live with “his mother” until he is 20.
The preponderance of evidence is strongly in favor of Richard Jordan Jr. as the husband of Elizabeth Reynolds.
- Isle of Wight County Book A, p46. [↩]
- Isle of Wight County Deed Book 2, p62. [↩]
- Isle of Wight County Deed Book A, p46. [↩]
- Virginia Patent Book 4, p243-4. [↩]
- See Jordan pages. The deed is referenced as Isle of Wight County Deed Book 1, no page given, abstracted by Boddie, p583. Boddie gives the year as 1672, but the text of the deed clearly indicates he was selling the land patented in 1679, thus indicating the date was actually 1679. [↩]
- Isle of Wight Will & Deed Book 1, no page given, abstracted by Boddie p587. [↩]
- Isle of Wight Will & Deed Book 1, abstracted in Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County Virginia, John Bennett Boddie (reprint Heritage Books, 1993), p541and again on p554. [↩]
- Boddie, p548. [↩]
- British Colonial Papers Collection, Library of Virginia. Reproduced in Boddie, pp150-157 and several other sources. [↩]