One of the most usual origins of place names is found in Jordans, which comes from a possessor of the name of Jordan in the long past.

The form “The Jordans” is quite senseless, and has been dropped of recent years. It was invented by an auctioneer in 1870. The family name of Jordan was fairly common in Ardingly in the time of Elizabeth. The first record of the name in the register occurs in 1565, when Bartholomew Jordan’s daughter was baptised; two other children are recorded in the following five years.

In 1621 we get another generation under the name of Andrew Jordan. This member of the family is the first that we can place definitely as holding the land called Jordans, although it is probable that the family had been in possession in the previous century. At Sir Edward Culpeper’s death in 1630 an enquiry was held to ascertain the extent of his landed property, in which enquiry (called an Inquisition post mortem) the following entry occurs: “A parcell of land occupied by Andrew Jordan“. The same land and holder is referred to again many years later, when Sir William Culpeper sold his Wakehurst estate in 1694 to Dennis Liddell. This Andrew Jordan (whose wife’s name was Mary) died in 1639-40. His burial is recorded on March 9th as “Andrew Jordan an ancient man“.

The first time that we find the land called Jordans when no longer held by one of the name is in l664, when the death of Thomas Pilbeme is recorded in the Wakehurst Court Roll as having

held freely to himself and his heirs certain lands and tenements called Jordans late Birstyes in Ardingly containing by estimation 38 acres of land… by fealty, suit of court, heriot and relief when they should fall and a yearly rent of l8d., after whose death there fell no heriot because there was no beast. And that George Pilbeme is his eldest son and heir to the premises and of full age: who being present in Court paid the relief and did fealty to his lord. George Pilbeme was content to refer himself to the Lord about the Heriot because his Father aliened all his Cattle away but a little space before his death.

Wakehurst Court Roll

A previous entry under date of 1633 records Thos. Pilbeam as holding Birsties, but in that case the name Jordans is omitted.

The land remained in the Pilbeam family till 1747, the deaths of various holders being recorded in the Court Rolls and the heriot of an ox paid. In 1747 the Homage presented that John Pilbeam, who held freely of the Lord of this Manor by Fealty, suit of Court, Heriot and relief, and by the yearly payment of ls. 6d., certain lands called Jordans, hath aliened the same to Thomas Sanders and his heirs. Thomas Sanders did fealty.

Jordans passed in 1787 to William Robinson, through the right of his wife, daughter of Thomas Sanders. In 1816 their son William Sanders Robinson inherited it, who was amerced in 1821 as having omitted to pay his dues, and he was in possession in 1833. A blank occurs here in the history of the holding, but in the Court Roll of 1871 it is recorded that the lands and tenements had been the property of the late Joseph Esdaile (who occupied Wakehurst for a few years), and that his only daughter and heir, the Hon. Mrs. E.E. Arundell, had inherited them. She compounded for the Heriot of one chestnut gelding by favour at £25. She sold the land to B.A. Hankey, of Balcombe Place, immediately afterwards.

The acreage of the whole is always given as 38 acres, and latterly it is described as forming part of Town House Farm. The land probably included Wheelers Field, Kitfield, Kitfield Grove and Hollgrove. The name Birstye mentioned above is accounted for by George Birstye, who lived at Hollgrove, being the farmer at one time. The modern house called Knowles Mead stands in Kitfield. The small portion of the farm which now alone retains the name of Jordans seems to have been divided from the rest of the land long ago. The house was advertised for sale in 1870, with three-quarters-of-an-acre surrounding it. The old workhouse which stood right on the road at the corner very probably represented the original home of the Jordan family. It was pulled down within living memory, and some of its timbers are said to have been used in the repair of Wakehurst by the late Marchioness of Downshire.

In 1774 John Jordan is amongst the few Freeholders of Ardingly entitled to vote for the Knights of the Shire (Members of Parliament). He is described as Parish Officer of the Workhouse, and it is his freehold. In the Parish Accounts for 1789 John Jardin (note the pronunciation evidenced by the spelling) is paid £6. for one year’s rent of the Workhouse, and the same sum appears yearly for some time.

In 1798 Mr. Tilt received the same sum for it, so it had evidently changed hands. In 1805 he only received £5. 4s. He is then described as of Brighton. In 1807 the rent was £5. 12s.

Edward Dench is returned in the list of Church Marks in 1821, as responsible for one length of the Church fence on account of his occupation of the same portion, “Late Jourdans”. Two or three other small houses stood on the same ground, close to the road, in the 19th century.

The Rev. W.P. Haslewood, Rector from 1844 to 1875, owned Jordans and commenced the erection of a small cottage, but removed it to Goreshaw, where it now forms the ground floor of Goreshaw Cottage. The present house of Jordans seems to have been entirely new built by Mr. Spicer, from whom it passed in to the hands of the late Mr. J.A. Newnman.

Place Name Index