Bardan was the father of Ailen Uldaren. His name may have come from Sindarin, meaning "to dwell upon."
His wife was the younger sister of King Thranduil but her fate is unknown. He raised his daughter Ailen alone, occasionally asking a neighbor, Priscilla, to look after her if he needed to ride with the scouts for signs of Orcs in their lands. On one such scouting expedition, his party was ambushed and his men killed. Bardan barely escaped with only a wound to the shoulder and rode swiftly to warn the village, and help Priscilla and his daughter. He arrived too late to stop the raid, but came in time to save his daughter from being slain. Placing Ailen on his horse's back, Bardan would have taken them to safety, but an Orc archer spotted him and shot him in the throat. Moments later, his horse was startled by an explosion and reared, tossing Ailen unconscious to the ground next to her father's body.
Gandalf, Ailen's mentor and friend later in life, rescued her from the destroyed village the following day. He also secretly recovered Bardan's sword, Hyandanar, which Galadriel would present to Ailen in Lórien twenty years later.
Bardan taught Ailen the Elven tongue, Sindarin, when she was young, and the two often spoke it together. He may also have taught her some Quenya.