Frederick Richard Jordan was born in London on 13 October 1881. His education began at the Gladstone Park State School, Balmain and he matriculated from Sydney High School in 1897.
His family could not afford to send him to university so, having bookish tastes, he was well pleased with his first employment in the Public Library of NSW. By 1901 he was able to pay his way as an evening student in Arts at the University of Sydney. He graduated BA in 1904 with Honours in Latin and French.
The Principal Librarian of NSW encouraged Jordan to undertake legal studies. Winning two scholarships, he graduated LLB with second-class honours in 1907. He was admitted to the Bar on 19 August 1907 and practised at old Selborne Chambers. He went on to become a King's Counsel in 1928. In the same year he married Bertha Maud, daughter of Dr Rudolph Clay.
At the Law School of the University of Sydney he was a part time lecturer between 1911 and 1921, his fields including Equity, Company Law, Bankruptcy, Probate, and Divorce.
On the retirement of Sir Philip Street, Jordan was invited to become the State's ninth Chief Justice. His appointment took effect on 1 February 1934.
Sir Frederick Jordan, appointed KCMG in 1936, became Lieutenant-Governor on the death of Sir Philip Street in 1938. He administered the government almost continuously for 12 months from June 1945. He became seriously ill in 1949 and died at his Vaucluse home on 4 November 1949.
Frederick Jordan was gifted in the mastery of law and applied his talent to the extraction and application of principles to solve complex legal issues. With his colleagues, he carried a heavy responsibility in administering justice at a time of inadequate manpower and resources, and in interpreting and enforcing emergency laws and regulations during World War II. Despite the difficulties, Jordan maintained the composure and dignity of the Court and according to Sir Kenneth Street, his successor, his pronouncements were 'unfaltering in the exact dispensation of the law'.