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William and Cecily (Reynolds) Farrar

Note: Some reference use a date of June 4, 1623 and other June 14, 1623. This seems confusing to me. William Farrar was born April 25, 1583 in Lincolnshire England. He was baptized there on April 28, 1583. He died before June 11, 1637 (the date on which his son – William - received a patent in Virginia as his heir for 2000 acres in Henrico County) in Farrars Island, Henrico County, Virginia. About 1633/36 we stop seeing William as a court member, so it is believed he died around this time.

William’s father John is said to have been a relative of Nicholas Farrar Sr. who was a merchant and senior member of the Virginia Company of London which would explain any of William’s association with the company.

William came to Virginia in August of 1618 on the ship called The Neptune. Stories have ten people including two servants being killed at Mr. Farrar’s house on the Appomatuck River during the Indian massacre of March 1622, however, his patent of this was not recorded until May 1625. In the early dawn, William rowed as rapidly as he could from Farrar’s Island to Jordan’s Journey (one of only four fortified plantations not abandoned after the massacre). He stayed here as plantation manager for the next 6 years.

In 1624 William is listed as living at Jordan’s Journey and in the muster of the following year (at age 31), he is still shown there living there with Mrs. Sisley Jordan (age 24). William was appointed administrator of Sisley Jordan’s husband, Samuel Jordan, estate on November 19, 1623. Samuel is said to have died in 1623. (Note: Samuel Jordan (1578 ¬ 1623), was an early Jamestown settler in the Virginia Colony and one of the first American colonial legislators. Jordan traveled to the New World as part of the 'Third Supply' of the Virginia Company, to the first English colony at Jamestown. He was a passenger on the Sea Venture, the flagship of the fleet which became shipwrecked on Bermuda, perhaps the first example of the mythical Bermuda Triangle phenomenon). Samuel and Cecily had two daughters (Mary born 1621/1622 and Margaret born in 1623 after her father’s death) and, in fact, she was pregnant with the second at the time of Samuel’s death. Samuel had been a widower about 10-15 years when he married Cecily who had been in Jamestown for about 10 years. Most sources say Cecily was “beautiful, enchanting and mysterious” She was said to be a “notorious flirt” and the “glamour girl” of the area. She was also friendly and well-liked by women as well as men. It’s said she was friends with the governor – Sir George Yardley – wife Temperance West Lady Yardley.

William and Cecily must have been married by May 1625 when his appointment as the estate’s administrator was cancelled.

March 14, 1626 saw William appointed to the Virginia Council where he served the rest of his days. In August 1626 he was named a commissioner with authority to determine whether the court should be held at Jordan’s Journey or Shirley Hundred.

In a 1628 will, William's father, John, left him lands, annuities, and 50 pounds sterling upon his return to England. He returned there in 1631 long enough to sell -- for 200 pounds -- the properties and annuities to his brother Henry Farrar, living in Berkshire. The names of Cecily his wife and Cecily and William, two of his children, appear in the deed. Another son, John, was born in 1632.


Cecily Reynolds was born in 1601 in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England and died September 12, 1660 Farrars Island, Henrico County, Virginia. Cecily was married three times. First she was married to Thomas Bailey (Bayley), second to Samuel Jordan (in about 1619) and lastly to William Farrar.

Cecily Reynolds was the daughter of Thomas and Cecily Phippen Reynolds of Dorsetshire. Cecily Phippen was a first cousin of Samuel Jordan who would go on to be a husband to her daughter, Cecily. Cecily came to America on the Swan in August of 1610/1611. Some sources says she came alone as a 10-year-old. These sources says her parents and younger sister had come earlier between August 1609 and May 1610. Other sources say she came with William Pierce – her uncle. She was living with William Pierce at the time of her first marriage, that being to Thomas Bayley or Bailey Thomas was a member of the Governor’s Guard stationed at Jamestown. Thomas died of malaria and left his widow and a young daughter, Temperance.

Cecily’s second marriage – Samuel Jordan - was before September 1620. Thirdly, of course, was her marriage to William Farrer.

It is at this point that the story of William Farrar and Cecily Reynolds Bailey Jordan gets interesting. Their story leading to the first breach of promise lawsuit in America. The story will be explained more below, but to make a long story short, a couple days after Samuel’s death, Cecily was approached by Grivell Pooley (the minister whom officiated Samuel’s funeral) about becoming his bride. She said he would be as good as anyone, but she wanted to wait till the baby’s birth (as she was pregnant with Samuel's baby at the time of his death) and requested he keep things quiet. Grivell didn’t keep things quiet and this outraged Cecily to the end of her calling off the engagement and getting engaged to William Farrar. This didn’t sit well with Rev. Pooley. On June 14, 1623, he decided to file the first breach of promise lawsuit in America against Cecily. Eventually he dropped the suit and Cecily and William were married.

Some researchers have Cecily marrying a fourth time to Peter Montague. Peter left a wife, Cecily , in his will proved 1 July 1659 in Lancaster county, Virginia. It is felt that Peter's first wife was Cecily Mathews, the daughter of Anthony Matthews. Many researchers state that Cecily Farrar had five children by Peter Montague.

After Peter's death, researchers say she married in 1660 Thomas Parker, who also left a wife Cecily. Thomas came in the Neptune with William Farrar in 1618 and on 23 January 1625 was at "College Land."

There is another Cecily in Virginia -- she is the daughter of William and Cecily Farrar. There is no mention of her in the records of Virginia that mentions her brothers, William and John, frequently. However when William Farrar sells his inheritance from his father to his brothers in England in 1631 there is an English court record as follows: "William, his wife Cecily, daughter Cecily and son William." This document is recorded before the birth of son John, Could it be that these last two marriages attributed to Cecily, could have been this daughter Cecily, born about 1625? We do not have a death date for Cecily Reynolds(?) Baily Jordan Farrar Montague(?) Parker(?).

Breach of Promise Suit

The story as recorded in records began back on September 20, 1620 when records reflect events of November 16, 1618
"George Yardley, Knight, Governor and Captain General of Virginia with the consent of the Council gave to Samuel Jordon of Charles City in Virginia, ancient planter who hath abode here in the Colony for 10 years .... 450 acres and to Cecily his wife an ancient planter also of nine years continuance ... 100 acres more ...." This was not formally recorded until 1690.

February 16, 1623

A list of the living and dead since April 1622 was made by the Virginia Company of London. We find the first five settlers listed at Jordan's Journey are Siscly ( Cecily ) Jordan, Temperance Baylise, Mary Jordan and William Farrar.

Cecily being beautiful, flirtatious and charming seemed to be up to something. Immediately after Samuel was buried, suitors started coming around to vie for her affections. One of those men, Rev Grivell Pooley – whom had performed Samuel’s funeral, sent a friend Capt. Isaac Madison to do as John Alden had done (see John Alden/Miles Standish/Pricilla Mullens). Cecily implied that Grivell would be as good as anyone, but she wasn’t interested in marriage at this time because her husband had just passed and she was pregnant and felt she wanted to wait till the baby was born.

From all accounts, Preacher Pooley worked himself into a frenzy over Cecily, and although she did not discourage his efforts, she eventually spurned him and that hurt. She revealed to him that she was pregnant and did not want to marry right away for that reason, and also because Samuel had been dead only three days. Those around the situation said the idea of marriage seemed to be the preacher’s, not Cecily’s. Rev. Pooley came to see Cecily and proceed to recite wedding vows to her, kissed her, and shared a glass of wine with her. He even went to the extent of saying her wedding vows for her. She didn’t respond and never said “I do” at any time according to witnesses.

It was her request that the engagement be kept quiet until she delivered the baby and appropriate time had passed. Rev. Pooley consented to this. However, he was much too excited about his catch to keep it to himself. Letting it be known, Pooley would have done better if he’d kept his mouth shut. Cecily set out to make plans that didn’t involve the Reverand. She became engaged to her plantation manager, and executor of Samuel’s estate, William Farrer.

This, of course, didn’t set well with Rev. Pooley so he filed a formal “Breach Of Promise” complaint in the House of Burgesses, on June 4, 1623.

June 14, 1623

Captain Issac and Mary Maddison and the Sargeant John Harris taken before the Council of Virginia regarding the supposed contract of marriage between Mr. Greville Pooley and Mrs. Cecily Jordan a few days after the death of her husband.

Records of the Virginia Company - Vol. 4 pp. 218
The examination of Captain Issac Madason took place on 4 June 1623 regarding the supposed contract between Mr. Grivell Pooley and Mrs. Sysley Jordan. Those present were Sir Francis Wyatt, Governor, Sir George Yardley, Mr. George Sandys, Dr. John Pott, Captain Roger Smyth, Captain Raph Hamor and Mr. John Pourntis.

Quoting from the records of the Virginia Company of London by Kingsbury "Captain Isack Maddeson sworne and examined saith that (as near as he remenbeth) the first motion to him by Mr. Grivell, touching a match with Mrs. Jordan was about three or four days after the Mr. Jordan's death, who entreating this examinant to move the matter to her, he answered he was unwilling to meddle in any such business; but being urged by him he did move it. Mrs. Jordan replied that she would as willingly have him as any other, but she would not marry any man until she delivered. After this Mr. Pooley (having had some private talk with Mrs. Jordan) told this examinant that he had contracted himself unto her, and desired him and his wife to be witnesses of it, whereupon Mr. Pooley desiring a dram of Mrs, Jordan, and she bidding her servant fitch it said he would have it of her fetching or not at all. Then she went into a room, and the examinant and Mr. Pooley went to her, but whether she were privy to his intent this examinant knoweth not; when Mr. Pooley was come of her, he told her he would contract himself unto her and spake these words. I Grivell Pooley take thee Sysley to my wedded wife, to have and to hold till death us depart and there to I plight thee my troth. Then (holding her by the hand) he spake these words I Sysley take thee Grivell to my wedded husband, to have and to hold till death us depart; but this examinant heard not her say any of those words, neither doth he remember that Mr. Pooley asked her whether she did consent to those words or that she did answer ant things which he understood. then Mr. Pooley and she drank each to other and he kissed her and spake these words, I am thine and thou art mine till death us separate. Mrs. Jordan then desired that it might not be revealed that she did so soon bestow her love, after her husbands’ death; whereupon Mr. Pooley promised before God that he would not reveal it, till she thought the time fitting."

November 17, 1623

"Mary Maddeson sworne and examined saith, that she was not present at the making of the supposed contract between Mr. Pooley and Mrs. Jordan say if Mr. Pooley had not revealed it he might have fared better and saith further that her husband told her that night, that Mrs. Jordan had made her self sure to Mr. Pooley, but what words passed her husband did not particularly repeat, but spake of their drinking to the other and of Mr. Pooley saluting her."

"John Harris sworne and examined saith that he heard Mrs. Jordan say tha Mr. Pooley maught thank himself for he might fared the better but for his own words."

"This Women before Mr. Grivell Pooley called her into the Court, contracted her self to Mr. Willm Ferrar: before the Governo and Counsell disavowed the former and affirminge the latter: Wee (not knowinge how to decide so nice a difference, our devines not takinge upon them presisely to determine, whether it be a formall and legall contract desire the resolution of the Civill Lawiers, and a speedy return thereof.

November 1623

Court and General Council of Virginia issued a warrant to Mr. Farrar to bring the account of Mr. Jordan, his estate by the last day of December. Another Warrant was issued to Mrs. Jordan, that Mr. Farrar put in security for the performance of her husband’s will.

April 21, 1624

Court met to review the last documents sent to the Virginia Company of London by Governor Sir Fransis Wyatt whereof one containing certain examinations touching a difference between Mr. Pooley and Mrs. Jordan referred unto the Company here for answer, being read the Court entreated Mr. Purchas to conferr with some Civilians and advise what answer was fit to be returned in such a case.

January 21, 1625

A list of Virginia settlers shows that Jordan’s Journey had the following in habitants: "Mr. William Ferrer, 31 by Neptune August 1618, Sisley Jordan 24 by Swan August 1610 , Mary Jordan, her daughter 3 born here; Margrett Jordan 1 born here; Temperance Baley 7 born here. A list of servants follows. …”

January 1625

The Courts weren’t sure what to do with such a thing and chose to refer it to London. Time went along and Rev. Pooley wasn’t pleased with the progress, so in January 1625, he appreared before the Court saying “Mr. Farrar and Mrs. Jordan live skandeloufly together, being sayeth ye Conceveth it skandlous witness, ye produced none but Mr. Caufey ( Nathanial ) but sateth ye Conceveth it skandelous for Mr. Faffar to break the order in court which he hath done by being on ordinary diet in Mrs. Jordan's house and to frequent her company alone without some body else be to be in place according to the order of the court.”

A witness, Nathanial Causey testified that he had never seen any “unfitting or suspicious familiarities between Mr. Farrar and Mrs. Jordan.” He did admit that he had seen Mr. Farrar kiss her.

The Governor and Council repeated their position: “the determination of the business between Mr. Pooley and Mrs. Jordan till the first arrival of ship out of England. Wherein we expect a resolution and in the meantime things to remain in the state that they are and Mr. Farrar behaving himself without scandel in the meantime and ye Court do conceive his being in ordyary dyett there nor any familiarities hath been alleged not cause of scandal ......."

London authorities also declined to make a decision and returned the suit saying: “(they) knew not how to decide so nice a difference.”

It appeared fruitless, so Rev. Pooley decided to drop the suit and William Farrar was successful in defending his future wife. In the last item of the Court Session of 1625, it is recorded.

I Grevell Pooly preacher of the word do for myself freely acquit and discharge Mrs. Cycelie Jordan from all former contracts, promises and conditions made by her to me in a way of marriage and do bind myself in five hundred pounds never to have any claim right or title to her that way. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this third day of January 1624/25.

Later in the year of 1625, when the baby was now about 2 years old, Cecily and William finally married.

March 7, 1628

In court, with John Pott, Capt Smyth, Capt Matthews, Mr. Clayborune and Mr. Farrar present the following record appears: "It is thought fit that Mr. Farrar at the next meeting of the Court do bring down Mr. Pooly and Edward Auborne to answer to such things as shall be objected against them."


The confrontation never occurred as planned. Rev. Pooley married soon after the suit was settled and he and his family were killed by Indians at their home in 1629. The record states: "At this Court was held a serious consultation concerning the massacre of Mr. Pooly and four other of our men with him by the Indians. And at length it was concluded that one of the Indians now remaining with us should be sent unto the great King with a message to this effect -- that whereas by the last treaty of peace it was agreed on that none of their people should come to any of our plantations or houses nor call or ..."

The Governor and Council of the Colony were so stirred by the extraordinary incident that they issued a solemn proclamation against a woman engaging herself to more than one man at a time. There is no known record that this edict has ever been revoked.

William and Cecily continued to live at Jordan’s Journey for several years until he patented the neck of land at the former site of the city of Henricus and now known as Farrar’s Island.

Cecily seemed to continue to be haunted by the events. She told of a vision she had one night at Jordan’s Journey. In this vision she saw two hands, one pointing at her and one pointing at her youngest daughter, while she heard a voie repeat the word “Judgement” over and over. Friends told her that she must have been dreaming but she insisted that she was wide awake at the time.

References: attachment
Ancestry of William Farrar of Henrico County, Va, by Mrs Henry Cook and Mrs Louis Buckley; Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol 50, pp 350 359
General Historie, by John Smith, 1624, Vol IV; p. 149; published in "The Complete Works of Captain John Smith", edited by Philip L. Barbour; Vol II, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1986
Georgia genealogical magazine, Issues 103-110
These Jordans Were Here by Octavia Jordan Perry
Jordan’s Journey
The Farrar’s Island Family and its English Ancestry, Baltimore, MD Gateway Press
Nugent, Neil Marion, Cavaliers and Pioneers Baltimore, MD , Genealogical Publishing Company
The Complete Book of Emigrants, Peter Coleman
The Records of the Virginia Company of London
The Journals of the House of Burgess of Virginia
The Minutes of the Council and General Court of Colonial Virginia