The Jordan name was everywhere in England, Wales, Ireland, and Scotland in the 1500s. The name is found in many countries in Europe in the 1600s -- from France, Germany, English Isles, to the Scandinavian countries. There were at least four major and distinct Jordan families in the Americas during the 1600s -- three in Virginia and one in New England -- apparently not related. There were at least another dozen smaller Jordan families in America in the 1600s with no relationships proven to the major groups. From the data we have seen so far at least 75 percent of Jordan ancestors are English; the others are Nordic. The name is a mid-major prominent name, but not as popular as Smith and Jones.
The major spellings of the name in 1600 England include the following:
Jordayne, Jordan, Jordon, Jurden, Jirden, Jourden, Jourdan, Jourdaine, Jordin, Jardin, Jarden, Jerdon, Geordan and Gerdan.
Genealogy history texts indicate early members of the Crusades took the name from the River Jordan during their journeys to the Holy Land. Many of the Jordan families who emigrated to Virginia in the 1600s pronounced their name Gher-den. The pronunciation stuck for many generations even though the spelling seems to have stabilized at Jordan before 1900. Many families have changed the pronunciation of the name to Jhor-dan during the past 50 years.
The Jordans attended St. Nicholas Church at Ashchurch, Gloucestershire, England. A trip by the Jordan Family Organization in 1997 found original records there, as well as identifying the Jordan Manor House in Dartmoor. Nearby are the "Hutholes", also known as Longhouses, where the Jordan ancestors lived in the 8th century. The original Jordans lived at Dartmoor around 1000 years ago, per a certified National Trust Restorer of Antiquities.
The original Jordan's name was "Deardon". William Deardon participated in the 3rd Crusade in 1100 and while in the Holy Land he slayed a Saracen foe in the Jordan River. This act was witnessed by King RIchard the Lionheart who asked that Sir WIlliam be brought to him. He dubbed Sir William as "Sir Jordan" in honor of his heroic deed. Sir William then appealed to the King for permission to change his surname to "Jordan" and also to change the name of the Hamlet where he lived to Jordan. He approved this request and according to legend and the Dartmoor Historical Society, the "Jordan" name was born.