Jorden, Edward (DNB00)

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JORDEN, EDWARD, M.D. (1569–1632), physician and chemist, born in 1569 at High Halden, Kent, the younger son of a gentleman of good family, was educated at Oxford, probably at Hart Hall. Having left the university without, apparently, taking a degree, he travelled on the continent, and spent some time at Padua, where he graduated M.D. On his return he practised in London, and became licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians on 7 Nov. 1595, fellow 22 Dec. 1597 (Munk). Jorden acquired the confidence of James I, and was probably successful in practice; but after some years he removed to Bath, where he died on 7 Jan. 1632, in his sixty-third year, and was buried in the Abbey Church. He married the daughter of a Mr. Jordan, and left one daughter.

While in London Jorden was employed by James I to examine the case of a girl believed to be bewitched or possessed by an evil spirit, whom the king, interested in such matters, had caused to be brought to London. Jorden detected the imposture, and brought the girl to confess. In connection with the same subject he wrote a small but important tract, in which he had the singular boldness and enlightenment to maintain that cases of so-called demoniacal possession were really due to ‘fits of the mother,’ or, in modern language, hysteria (‘A Briefe Discourse of a Disease called the Suffocation of the Mother, written upon occasion which hath beene of late taken thereby to suspect possession of an evill spirit, or some such-like supernatural power. Wherein is declared that divers strange actions and passions of the body of man, which are imputed to the Divell, have their true natural causes, and do accompanie this disease,’ London, 1603, 4to).

Another work by Jorden of curious interest is ‘A Discourse of Natural Bathes and Mineral Waters,’ London, 1631, 4to; 2nd edit. 1632, 4to; 3rd edit. 1633, 4to; 4th (called 3rd), edited by Thomas Guidott, with some particulars of the author's life, London, 1669, 8vo (portrait, but usually wanting); 5th (called 4th) edit. London, 1673, 8vo. Jorden was also interested in the manufacture of alum, and claims to have improved the process, though his outlay thereon did not turn out profitably for himself. The knowledge of chemistry displayed in his discourse on baths is not remarkable, even for the age in which he lived. Jorden seems to have deserved Guidott's eulogy as ‘a learned, candid, and sober physician,’ who had ‘the applause of the learned, respect from the rich, prayers from the poor, and the love of all.’

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 548; Guidott's edition of the Discourse of Natural Bathes, 1669; Munk's Coll. of Phys. 1878, i. 113.]

J. F. P.