Jourdain, Silvester (DNB00)


JOURDAIN or JOURDAN, SILVESTER (d. 1650), voyager, was son William Jourdain of Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, and cousin of John Joumain [q. v.] In 1603, according to a record in the 'Port Book of Poole,' Silvester Jordain of Lyme shipped some goods from that town (Hunter, Chorus Vatum, v. 196). In 1609 he accompanied his townsman, Sir George Summers, Sir Thomas Gates [q. v.], and Captain Newport, deputy governors of Virginia, on their voyage to America. They were wrecked on 28 July at Bermuda, then uninhabited, and took possession of it for the crown of England. On his return Jourdain wrote ‘A Discovery of the Barmudas, otherwise called the Ile of Divels,’ 4to, London, 1610 (reprinted, without acknowledgment, in 1613 in a ‘Plaine Description of the Barmudas,’ edited by W. C., and dedicated to Sir Thomas Smith). Other reprints are to be found in Hakluyt's ‘Collection of Voyages,’ 1809 and 1812, and in the Aungervyle Society's reprints, 1884. Shakespeare was well acquainted with Jourdain's ‘Discovery,’ and doubtless drew from it some hints for his ‘Tempest.’ Ariel talks of fetching dew from ‘the still-vexed Bermoothes’ (i. 2). Fletcher in ‘Women Pleased’ (i. 2) and Webster in ‘Duchess of Malfi’ (iii. 2) follow Jourdain in representing Bermudas as the home of devils and witches. Jourdain died unmarried in the parish of St. Sepulchre beyond Newgate, London, in the spring of 1650, his estate being administered on 28 May of that year by his brother John Jourdain the younger (Administration Act Book, P. C. C., 1650, f. 83 b).

Jourdain's brother, Ignatius Jourdain (1561–1640), went to Guernsey for a time, and became a prosperous merchant at Exeter. He was elected M.P. for that city in 1625, 1625–6, and 1627–8, and was also mayor. While deputy-mayor, in the great plague of 1625, he wrote letters to many towns in the western counties soliciting subscriptions for the numerous poor. He endeavoured to get passed a bill against adultery, which was brought in afterwards as Jourdain's Bill, and he was the first who promoted the bill for the observance of Sunday and against swearing (cf. Notes and Queries, 5th ser. iii. 445, 493). When the proclamation touching the rebellious practices in Scotland was read, in April 1639, in Exeter Cathedral, Jourdain exhibited such contempt that he was commanded either to apologise or appear before the council in London. He did neither (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1639, pp. 53, 160, 469). He died on 15 July 1640, leaving a widow, Elizabeth, and children.

[Hutchinson's Dorsetshire, 3rd ed. ii. 75; F. Nicholls's Life of I. Jourdain, 1653; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1627–33; will of I. Jourdain, registered in P. C. C. 130, Coventry.]

G. G.