Jordan son of Essolf de Thornhill


Jordan son of Essolf de Thornhill was son of Essolf.

He was a friend and follower of Thomas Becket, of whom Jordan said

I was his man while he was in the body and his familiar friend

Becket was murdered on 29th December 1170.

A few years after the murder, a miracle is said to have taken place when one of Jordan's sons died and was brought back to life after Jordan and his wife prayed to St Thomas Becket.

This event was commemorated in a stained glass window in Canterbury Cathedral.

The monks of Canterbury, William and Benedict, who were contemporaries of the murdered Archbishop Thomas Becket, recorded accounts of the miracle.

The account of Benedict commences:

The hand of the Lord was heavy on a knight of great name, Jordan son of Essolf, and smote his household with disaster from the time of August until the Easter days. Many were sorely sick in his house and there was no one who could help.

The nurse of his son William died of a violent disease and was buried, then the son himself died. Mass was said, the body laid out, the parents were in hopeless grief.

It so happened that there arrived that day a band of twenty pilgrims from Canterbury whom Jordan hospitably lodged for love for the Martyr. When the priest came to bear the corpse to the church for burial, the father cried out

By no means shall my son be carried forth, since my heart assures me that the Martyr Thomas is unwilling that I should lose him, for I was his man while he was in the body and his familiar friend


Jordan borrowed some water containing a drop of the saint's blood from the pilgrims, and after this was poured three times into William's mouth, and he recovered. Jordan gave him four pieces of silver and promised that William would offer them to the Martyr at Mid-Lent. The vow was delayed.

The St appeared three times to a leper, Gimpe, who lived on Jordan's estates, ordering him to warn Jordan of the evils that would befall him if he did not instantly fulfil his vow. On the third occasion the leper sent his daughter to tell Jordan and his wife. But it happened that the Earl Warenne, Jordan's lord,

in whose name alone the aforesaid knight possessed his property

was visiting, and they were delayed.

On Easter Saturday

the Lord smote with a violent disease another son of the knight's, a little older, and more beloved than the one resuscitated, because his father's race was shown more perfectly in his features

This son died on the seventh day. Twenty of Jordan's household were also sick.

With a violent effort and aided by the sacred water, Jordan, his wife, and son William set off and accomplished the pilgrimage to the Temple of Cambridge.

The windows of the Trinity Chapel at Cambridge, said to have been made 1220-1240, were filled with illustrations of the Saint's various miracles.

Many were lost but in the early 20th century.

W. Paley Baildon recorded that nine medallions depicting the miracle of Jordan's son had been preserved

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:13 / 15th May 2021 / 5299

Page Ref: MMJ150

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