YOUNG DAVID DIED AN EARLY DEATH IN MACAU

This first appeared in issue #1 of 'History Notes', compiled by the late Phillip Bruce. It is reproduced here on Gwulo by kind permission of Mr Bruce's family.

Manuel Teixeira records In his book, The Protestant Cemeteries of Macau, details of the tombstone of Ensign John Jordan. The reference to the memorial inscription is given on pages 82 and 119. The inscription reads:

"To the Memory of Ensign John Jordan of the Bombay Establishment who died at Macao on the 28th day of August 1786 aged 20 years."

The records concerning John Jordan are very meagre but from the few items available we are able to piece together part of his story. John Jordan was a native of Kent and was born in December 1765.
Nothing is known of his early life but it is recorded that he sailed to India on May 5, 1782, on the vessel Brilliant.

His brother, David, was a ship's officer on this vessel. It would appear that John Jordan did not serve as a cadet of the Honourable East India Company but probably sailed to India and entered the Company's service after his arrival. He is shown as having entered the service at Bombay during 1782. He became an Ensign in the Bombay Army infantry on November 21, 1782.

In 1783, Ensign John Jordan joined the troops that took part in the capture of Mangalore and Bednore during the Second Mysore War. Unfortunately, Tipu Sultan recaptured Bednore and a number of the Company's Bombay Army were made prisoner, including Ensign John Jordan, who at that time was serving with the 15th Bombay Sepoys. With the end of the war between Britain and France and the death of Haider Ali in 1784 his son Tipu Sultan negotiated a peace with the Company and John Jordan was released from captivity in March of that year.

Personnel of the 15th Bombay Sepoys were drafted to the 1st Bombay Sepoys later in 1784 and in September 1785 Ensign Jordan was transferred to the Third Bombay Sepoys.

The Honourable East India Company factory in China was provided with a defence force which, during the period 1785-86 was supplied by the Bombay Army. It is not known when Ensign Jordan arrived at Macao but he died there on August 28, 1786, aged 20 years, and was buried on Meesenberg Hill. The Protestant residents who died during the Eighteenth Century were buried just outside the old city wall or on Meesenberg Hill. The Protestant Cemetery at Macau was not opened until 1821. The hill was situated about half a mile from the old city wall and it was not until 1938 that the tombstones were recovered and brought into the cemetery when many were placed in the existing walls.

The inscription on the Jordan tombstone gives no indication as to the cause of his death but in all probability it was due to some fever. Nothing else is recorded of his life or service except that his will was administered in 1788. His tour of duty with the Bombay Army was short, a mere three years and ten months, during which time he had spent 11 months in captivity in India.

Alan Harfield.

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