Canada was not exempt from piracy on the high seas. Edward Jordan led a diverse lifestyle. The Irishman had been a rebel in Ireland, as well as a fisherman and pirate in Nova Scotia, on Canada’s eastern seaboard.
Jordan was only 18 when he fought in the Irish rebellion of 1797-98. While he was pardoned and tried to reform himself after moving to Nova Scotia, his attempt was short-lived. So was Jordan’s life, as it turned out. Jordan was indebted to a merchant who tried to repossess his schooner, Three Sisters. On Sept. 13, 1809, Jordan slaughtered the merchant’s crew, but the captain, John Stairs escaped overboard.
Jordan was captured by the crew of the Royal Navy schooner HMS Cuttle. He was executed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for piracy. In a gruesome process that was intended as a warning to those who would emulate his crimes, Jordan’s body was covered in tar and hanged from chains in an iron cage known as a giblet. His body would join four other men who were executed for mutiny on the HMS Columbine earlier that year. They, too, were displayed in giblets.
Jordan’s skull was recently on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax. The display was aptly named “Pirates: Myth and Reality”.