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Jordan fitz Essulf

Male - Aft 1194


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  • Name Jordan fitz Essulf 
    Born of Thornhill, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender Male 
    Died Aft 25 Jan 1194  [1, 3, 4
    Person ID I7636  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others | Ancestor of JTS, Ancestor of TNH
    Last Modified 6 Jan 2018 

    Father Essulf,   b. of Birkin, Yorkshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Bef 1159 
    Family ID F2995  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Children 
    +1. Richard de Thornhill,   d. Bef 1209
    Last Modified 24 Feb 2020 
    Family ID F4960  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Constable of Wakefield circa 1174-78. Keats-Rohan notes that "He is known in connection with one of the miracles of St Thomas Becket, illustrated in a window of the Trinity chapel in Canterbury cathedral."

      From Baildon and the Baildons, citation details below:

      The most notable episode in Jordan's life is his connection with St. Thomas à Becket, narrated by two monks of Canterbury, William and Benedict, who were contemporaries of the murdered Archbishop; their collected accounts of the miracles are said to have been made within a few years after the murder, and the incidents are therefore probably not later than 1180. The story is given in the notes to Dean Stanley's Historical Memorials of Canterbury, with some omissions and one important misprint; the following is in the main the Dean's translation, with some corrections and additions from the Latin text.

      William the Monk begins his tale thus:

      There came to Canterbury a knight, Jordan son of Heisulf, of the town which is called by the name of Broken Bridge [nomine Fracti Pontis, i.e. Pontefract], with his wife, and a son about ten years old, who was, as he asserted, being dead, restored to life by the Blessed Martyr Thomas.

      Benedict omits the important reference to Pontefract, and begins:

      The hand of the Lord was heavy on a knight of great name, Jordan son of Eisulf, and smote his household with disaster from the time of August unto the Easter days. Many were sorely sick in his house, and there was no one who could help. The nurse of his son William, surnamed Brito [cognomine Britonis], died of a violent disease [mortuo acuta], and was buried. Then the son himself died. Mass was said -- the body laid out -- the parents were in hopeless grief. It so happened that there arrived that day a band of twenty pilgrims from Canterbury whom Jordan hospitably lodged for love of the Martyr. When the priest came to bear the corpse to the church for burial, the father cried "By no means shall my son be carried forth, since my heart assures me that the Martyr Thomas is unwilling that I should lose him; for I was his man while he was in the body, and his familiar friend."

      From the pilgrims he borrowed some water in which a drop of the Saint's blood had been mixed, and bade the priest pour it into the boy's mouth. This was done without effect. The father still delayed the burial, and the priest, while admiring his faith, thought him mad, as the boy had now been dead two days. Jordan then himself uncovered the body, raised the head, forced open the teeth with a knife, and poured in some of the water. A small sign of red showed itself on the boy's left cheek. A third draught was poured down his throat. The boy then opened one eye, and said, "Why are you weeping, father? Why are you crying, lady? Be not sad; behold the Blessed Martyr Thomas has restored me to you." He was then speechless till evening. The father put into his hands four pieces of silver, promising that the boy should offer them to the Martyr at Mid-Lent, and the parents sat and watched him. At evening he sat up, ate, talked, and was restored well to his parents.

      But the performance of the vow was neglected and delayed. And so St. Thomas appeared to a leper, Gimpe, by name, in his sleep, who lived on the knight's estate, about three miles from his house, and said "Gimpe, art thou asleep?" The leper said "I was, until you awoke me. Who art thou?" "I am Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury; knowest thou Jordan, the son of Eisulf?" And Gimpe replied "Very well, lord, as the best ot men, who has done many good things to me." He was then ordered to go and warn Jordan of the evils that would befall him unless he instantly fulfilled his vow. The leper did nothing. The Saint appeared a second time, and ordered the leper to send for his priest, who refused to convey so idle a tale to a great and powerful man. St. Thomas appeared a third time, and ordered the leper to send his daughter for the knight and his wife. They came, heard, wondered, and fixed the last week in Lent for the performance of the vow.

      But it so fell that the Earl Warenne, the knight's lord, in whose name alone the aforesaid knight possessed his property [cujus nomine res soli miles praetaxatus Dossidebat]," came to that place, and prevented them from setting out on their pilgrimage; thus they did not keep their vow. On the last day of the last week, namely, on Holy Saturday before the day of our Lord's Resurrection, the Lord smote with a violent disease another son of the knight's, a little older, and more beloved than the one resuscitated, because his father's face was shown more perfectly in his features. On the morrow the parents themselves were taken ill and confined to bed, and were despaired of. And the disease took hold of the boy, and he slept in death on the seventh day, on the sixth day [fetia] of Easter Week. Twenty of the knight's household were also sick.

      Then the knight and his wife determined at all hazard to accomplish their vow. By a violent effort -- aided by the sacred water -- they set off; their servants by a like exertion dragging themselves to the gate to see them depart. The lady fell into a swoon seven times from the fatigue of the first day, and was in despair at the long journey; but her husband said "Alive or dead she shall be brought to Canterbury." When she saw the pinnacle of the Temple of Canterbury, she dismounted from her horse, and with her husband and son, barefoot, walked the remaining three miles to the Martyr's sepulchre, and then the vow was discharged.

      Benedict adds that he received this story in a letter from the priest, who stated that the boy was undoubtedly dead and brought to life again.

  • Sources 
    1. [S428] John P. Ravilious, 20 Sep 2004, two posts to soc.genealogy.medieval.

    2. [S991] Early Yorkshire Families ed. Charles Travis Clay and Diana E. Greenway. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973.

    3. [S775] Powys-Lybbe Ancestry, by Tim Powys-Lybbe.

    4. [S1369] Baildon and the Baildons: A History of a Yorkshire Manor and Family by W. Paley Baildon. Volume II. Bradford and London: Percy Lund, Humphries & Co., Ltd., 1924., year only.