The most memorable action of Sir Joseph Jordan was in the famous battle of Solebay, when he fell with his squadron into the midst of the Dutch fleet, and threw it into the utmost confusion. The advantage was long on the side of the Dutch, as the English were overpowered by numbers; but by this action, the fortune of the day was reversed, and the English gained the victory. It should also be remembered, that in this battle he abandoned the brave and accomplished earl of Sandwich to the Dutch fireships, in order to succour the duke of York.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1779.
JORDAN, Sir Joseph.
His conduct at the battle of Solebay has laid him open to censure of a very particular kind: but as his gallantry, at the very instant when he appears to have incurred this reproach, has never been disputed, even by the person who appears to have had the best ground for condemning him, it is a piece of justice due to the memory of so brave a man, to examine, with some care, the propriety of the charge. This charge is, in few words, that he suffered the ever-to-be-lamented earl of Sandwich to fall a sacrifice to the Dutch, in consequence of his over-solicitude for the safety, and protection of the duke of York. Sir R. Haddock, who was the earl's captain, thus expresses himself in his letter to the duke after the action. "Some short time after sir Joseph Jordan past by us very unkindly to windward, and with how many followers of his division I remember not, and took no notice of us at all, which made me call to mind his saying to your royal highness, when he received his commission, that he would stand between you and danger, which I gave my lord account of." It is, however, the decided opinion of all historians, that sir Joseph, by keeping his wind, was the principal cause of the victory that followed; and however we may feel ourselves naturally impelled to lament a conduct which, in any, the most distant, degree contributed to deprive the world of so great, and good a man, yet posterity would have been much more apt to have condemned the man who had purchased the safety of his admiral at the expence of victory. There is, moreover, this farther excuse to be pleaded in defence of sir Joseph's supposed unkindness. He appears in great measure to have acted as he did, in consequence of his admiral's special command; that the misfortune which befel the earl was owing as much to other unavoidable circumstances, as to any neglect on the part of sir Joseph, for in the former part of sir R. Haddock's letter he says, "I had sent our barge, by my lord's command, a-head, to sir Joseph Jordan, to tack, and with his division to weather the Dutch that were upon us, and beat them down to the leeward of us, and come to our assistance: our pinnace I sent likewise a-stern to command our ships to come to our assistance, which never returned, but were on board several who endeavoured it, but could not effect it." So that the charge may, perhaps with some propriety, be changed from unkind neglect, into irremediable misfortune, which prevented sir Joseph from fulfilling his orders till assistance was too late. On the return of the fleet into port he was appointed vice-admiral of the red.
---Biographia navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.