Sisley Jordan Farrar—Ancient Planter

A fragment of a gold finger ring (top) and the decorated end of a silver bodkin, both from Jordan’s Journey. [1]

Sisley (NN) Jordan Farrar is our family’s earliest known arrival in America—Aug 1611, Jamestowne, Colony of Virginia.

Below is Sisley’s biography from Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635: A Biographical Dictionary [2], interspersed with additional context and discussion of the original sources for her biography.

In the original sources, Sisley’s given name is spelled several ways including Cecily, Sisley, and Sysley. We use Sisley, the variant listed in two censuses taken during her adulthood, unless quoting a source.

The gold finger ring and silver bodkin above were recovered during excavation within the palisade fortification at Jordan’s Journey—archaeological site 44PG302—Sisley’s home. The ring was found within feature F-431 indicated on the artifacts map.


On January 21, 1625, Cisley Jordan (Jordain, Jorden, Jerden), an ancient planter, reported that she had arrived in Virginia in August 1610 on the Swan. As she was 24 years old in 1625, she would have been around 9 or 10 years old when she came to the colony.

Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635

The Swan, a vessel in Sir Thomas Gates’ fleet, sailed from England in May 1611 via the West Indies, and actually arrived in Aug 1611, not Aug 1610. [3] More than 13 years later, Sisley is reporting her arrival in “Musters of the Inhabitants in Virginia, 1624/5” [4], which explains the mistake in the reported year.

“She may have been accompanied by her parents, for Gates’ ships brought some 300 men, women, and children to the colony.” [1] Her maiden name and parents are lost to us.

Gate’s fleet was the 6th group of colonists to arrive in Jamestowne. Sisley had the good fortune of not traveling in the first four groups. Of the 600–700 colonists in these four groups arriving between 1607–1609, only about 60 were still living after the Starving Time in the winter of 1609–1610. The group that included Sisley increased the population of colonists in America above 1,000 for the first time. [3]

Cisley may have wed ancient planter John Bayley and produced a daughter, Temperance, who was age 7 in January 1625 and living in her home. It is certain that Cisley married ancient planter Samuel Jordan sometime prior to December 21, 1620, when he received his first dividend of land, which also included her entitlement as an ancient planter.

The Jordans took up residence on the lower side of the James River at a plantation they called Jordan’s Journey. After the March 22, 1622, Indian attack, the Jordan plantation was strengthened and became a rallying point for the area’s survivors.

Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635

Samuel and Cecily Jordan are listed as ancient planters in a 10 Dec 1620 land grant for 450 acres. [6]

Ancient planter is a term applied by the Virginia Company of London to colonists who arrived in Virginia prior to 1616, remained three years, and paid their own passage. After 1618, these colonists received a dividend of 100 acres of land each, the first land grants in Virginia. [7]

Sisley is listed in both “A List of Names; of the Living in Virginia; february the 16 1623[/4]” [5] and “Musters of the Inhabitants in Virginia, 1624/5” [4] at Jordan’s Journey with Mary Jordan, Margery/Margrett Jordan, and Temperance Baylife/Baley. Mary and Margaret are Samuel and Sisley’s daughters. From this, it is inferred that Sisley married a Baley (Bailey, Bayley), and was widowed, before marrying Samuel Jordan. Interestingly, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635, does not mention this marriage between John Bayley and Sisley in its biographies for John Bailey and Temperance Bayley.

Cisley Jordan was widowed sometime after April 1623, and on November 19, 1623, she was authorized to settle her late husband’s estate, with the help of William Farrar. Farrar, who at the time of the Indian attack had been occupying a plantation on the east side of the Appomattox River, somewhat inland from Bermuda Hundred, may have taken refuge at Jordan’s Journey and stayed on.

On January 21, 1625, when a muster was made of Jordans Journey’s inhabitants, Cisley Jordan and William Farrar were listed as jointly heading a Jordan’s Journey household that included her daughters Mary and Margaret Jordan, Temperance Bayley, and 10 male servants.

By May 1625 Cisley and William Farrar had wed. Probate records indicate that they produced at least three children: Cecily, William, and John.

Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635

William Farrar died before 1637. Sisley is believed to have died after William, but the year is unknown.


Sisley is our Jamestowne Society Qualifying Ancestor (A9447). [8] The Jamestowne Society application lineage data is available in the membership only area.

What roles did Samuel Jordan and William Farrar play in the Colony of Virginia?

In July-August 1619 Samuel Jordan was one of two men who represented the corporation of Charles City in Virginia’s first legislative assembly.

In March 1626 William Farrar was named to the Council of State, and later in the year he was designated a commissioner of the monthly courts for the ‘Upper Parts,’ held at Jordan’s Journey and Shirley Hundred, to settle petty disputes in the communities west of Flowerdew Hundred.

Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607–1635

Sisley NN (1600–1637) is 11th great-grandmother of MKS in the Knight branch.

Samuel Jordan (1578–1623) is husband of 11th great-grandmother of MKS in the Knight branch.

William Farrar (1583–1637) is 11th great-grandfather of MKS in the Knight branch.

References:
[1] Martha W. McCartney, Jordan’s Point, Virginia, Archaeology in Perspective, Prehistoric to Modern Times (Richmond, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2011).
[2] Martha W. McCartney, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 433-434.
[3] “Jamestown supply missions,” wikipedia.org.
[4] John Camden Hotten, “Musters of the Inhabitants in Virginia, 1624/5,” The Original Lists of Persons of Quality (London: John Camden Hotten, 1874), 209-210.
[5] John Camden Hotten, “A List of Names; of the Living in Virginia; february the 16 1623[/4],” The Original Lists of Persons of Quality (London: John Camden Hotten, 1874), 171.
[6] “Virginia Land Office Patents and Grants Index,” Patents No. 8, 1689-1695, 125-127.
[7] “Ancient planter,” wikipedia.org.
[8] “Qualifying Ancestors, Sisley ( ) Jordan,” jamestowne.org.