Martin Jordan, a 16-year-old from Killala, County Mayo, Ireland, sailed on the Edward and Ann in 1811 (1) with a group of labourers bound for Lord Selkirk’s settlement. Led by Miles Macdonell, they were to prepare for the 1812 settlers. The ship’s arrival at York Factory was too late in the year for the men to make the trip to Red River, so they wintered at a camp on the Nelson River.
The work party reached the Forks on August 30, 1812. The men and the first group of settlers, who arrived in late October, continued south to Pembina for the winter, where they established Fort Daer, close to a Métis camp and the buffalo hunt. They also spent the following winter at Fort Daer, where Martin married Mary McLean, who had arrived with her family in 1812. (2) They would have two daughters and two sons.
The Jordan family was among those who fled twice to Jack River (Norway House) after the settlement was destroyed in 1815 and 1816. The settlers spent the winter of 1816-17 at Jack River, encouraged by the news that Lord Selkirk was in the country. In February, Alexander McLean and Martin Jordan made the journey on foot to Red River with Alexander McDonell. In 1817, Lord Selkirk granted Martin Lot #7.
Martin was with the HBC agent, Colin Robertson, when Fort Gibraltar (North West Company) was seized in March. This event, and the confrontation with the Métis at Seven Oaks in June, resulted in lengthy litigation in Canada between the NWC and Lord Selkirk. In 1818, Colin Robertson, Martin Jordan, and three others were tried in Montreal and acquitted of the destruction of Fort Gibraltar. However, there were delays in the trial and the men were kept in Montreal longer than anticipated. The HBC agent refused to cover Martin’s expenses and his creditors had him arrested and jailed. An agent of the NWC quickly paid Martin’s debts and had him released. Jordan, now indebted to the rival company, swore vengeance on the HBC. He testified at York on behalf of the NWC regarding the events at Seven Oaks.
Martin returned to Red River in 1818 and took his family away with him. He was employed by the NWC, as his name appears in the accounts ledger of 1819. He apparently worked in the Lake Superior area, but a further record has not been found. In 1822 Mary was in Red River as her daughter Nancy was baptized at that time. It is not known whether she was visiting her family, or was now living there. There is no record of them until 1830, when Mary and two children were included in the Red River census as part of the household of her brother Alexander McLean. In 1831 Mary married Hugh Cameron, with whom she had five children.
The two Jordan daughters died young, but the sons grew to manhood and farmed in the settlement. There is no evidence that Patrick ever married, but Hector married Janet, daughter of Alexander and Ann Matheson, settlers of 1815.
(1) HBCA C.1/323, passenger list of the Edward and Ann, outward bound 1811
(2) LAC, Selkirk Papers pp. 560-562, fo. 198-200, Owen Keveny’s list of settlers and servants on the Robert Taylor 1812: Mary does not appear by name on this list. She is simply referred to as a “sister”.