THOMAS JORDAN (1612 ?-1685), English poet and pamphleteer, was born in London and started life as an actor at the Red Bull theatre in Clerkenwell. He published in 1637 his first volume of poems, entitled Poeticall Varieties, and in the same year appeared A Pill to Purge Melancholy. In 1639 he recited one of his poems before King Charles I., and from this time forward Jordan's output in verse and prose was continuous and prolific. He freely borrowed from other authors, and frequently re-issued his own writings under new names. During the troubles between the king and the parliament he wrote a number of Royalist pamphlets, the first of which, A Medicine for the Times, or an Antidote against Faction, appeared in 1641. Dedications, occasional verses, prologues and epilogues to plays poured from his pen. Many volumes of his poems bear no date, and they were probably written during the Commonwealth. At the Restoration he eulogized Monk, produced a masque at the entertainment of the general in the city of London and wrote pamphlets in his support. He then for some years devoted his chief attention to writing plays, in at least one of which, Money is an Ass, he himself played a part when it was produced in 1668. In 1671 he was appointed laureate to the city of London; from this date till his death in 1685 he annually composed a panegyric on the lord mayor, and arranged the pageantry of the lord mayor's shows, which he celebrated in verse under such titles as London Triumphant, or the City in Jollity and Splendour (1672), or London in Luster, Projecting many Bright Beams of Triumph (1679). Many volumes of these curious productions are preserved in the British Museum.
In addition to his numerous printed works, of which perhaps A Royal Arbour of Loyall Poesie (1664) and A Nursery of Novelties in Variety of Poetry are most deserving of mention, several volumes of his poems exist in manuscript. W. C. Hazlitt and other 19th-century critics found more merit in Jordan's writings than was allowed by his contemporaries, who for the most part scornfully referred to his voluminous productions as commonplace and dull.
See Gerard Langbaine, Account of the English Dramatic Poets (1691); David Erskine Baker, Biographia Dramatica (4 vols., 1812); W. C. Hazlitt, Handbook to the Popular, Poetical and Dramatic Literature of Great Britain (1867);; F. W. Fairholt, Lord Mayors' Pageants (Percy Society, 1843), containing a memoir of Thomas Jordan;. John Gough Nichols, London Pageants (1831).
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