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Admiral Sir Joseph Jordan by Sir Peter Lely, painted 1665–1666, part of the Flagmen of Lowestoft series.

Sir Joseph Jordan (c. 1603–1685) was a naval officer and admiral. From a Thames shipowning family, he is initially recorded as importing tobacco from Nevis and Barbados aboard the Amity.[1]

During the English Civil War, he served in the parliamentary navy commanding the merchantman Caesar in the summer guard of 1642; later that year he was recorded taking castles around the Isle of Wight. In 1643 he served as rear-admiral in the Irish guard and the following year was active off the Channel Islands and at the relief of Lyme Regis and, in 1645, the siege of Weymouth.[1] He remained loyal to parliament during the 1648 naval revolt and in February 1649 signed remonstrance congratulating the army and the Commons for restoring liberty.[1]

Following a short period abroad, Jordan resumed his naval career in 1650, was a flag-officer in the First Anglo-Dutch War and a member of the expedition against Algiers and Tunis under Robert Blake in April 1655. He was brought into service again in 1664 and served as a flag-officer in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665–7,[2] knighted in 1665 after the Battle of Lowestoft; was rear-admiral of the Red squadron, with George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, in the inconclusive Four Days Battle, 1–4 June 1666, and vice-admiral of the Red at the victory in the St. James's Day Battle, 25 July 1666.[3]

In the Third Anglo-Dutch War, 1672–4., as vice-admiral of the Blue, he led the fleet into action in HMS Sovereign of the Seas, 100 guns, in the Battle of Solebay, 28 May 1672.[3] At the time it was alleged he had deliberately chosen to expose to danger Admiral Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, HMS Royal James, who died in the battle, in order to protect the Duke of York, later James II of England.[2]

After the war he was granted a pension and lived in retirement.[2]


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  1. ^ a b c C. S. Knighton, 'Jordan, Sir Joseph (1603/4–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004
  2. ^ a b c Latham & Matthews Companion; entry 'Jordan, Sir Joseph'
  3. ^ a b Flagmen of Lowestoft: Vice-Admiral… (BHC2812) - National Maritime Museum Archived 25 April 2007 at the Wayback Machine

Robert Latham and William Matthews ed. 'The Diary of Samuel Pepys', Volume X, (1983) Companion; entry 'Jordan, Sir Joseph'

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2 Annotations

Bill  •  Link

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.

Bill  •  Link

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.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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