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Biographical Profiles
Stephen Horsey: A Case Study of in Community Leadership
By Timothy Robinson

Seventeenth century Somerset County, Maryland spawned many interesting and adventurous individuals. Detailed records surviving from that era allow historians to recreate the lives of Somerset County’s founding citizens. One such individual is Stephen Horsey, who became one of the most influential and controversial of Somerset’s early leaders. Through an examination of the historical records, one gains a larger insight into the life of Horsey, bringing him to life again on paper, and providing a picture of what life was like during this early period.



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Stephen Horsey is believed to have been born in England around 1620.[]1 One may speculate what prompted him to leave England for the new colony of Virginia. He could have left England for economic reasons or the sense of adventure. He could have left England to escape from a land of religious intolerance for his non- conformist views. We do not know the exact date of Horsey’s arrival into Virginia, but we can begin to trace Horsey’s movement beginning in 1643 when he was in his early twenties. In that year, the first extant record for Horsey is found. Mr. Obedience Robbins, one of the prominent settlers of the Eastern Shore, went in 1643 before the court of Northampton County, Virginia, seeking his restitution in the form of head rights to cover the expenses of transporting eight colonists from England to Virginia. One of those transported for whom Robbins received compensation was Stephen Horsey.[2]

There was no mention of Horsey in the official records for a few years immediately following his arrival. The next mention of Horsey following Mr. Robbins’ head right is somewhat dubious. On November 20, 1646, it appeared that Horsey did something contrary to acceptable behavior because he was sued by the widow Hanna Mountney. There is no record as to what offense Horsey committed or if he owed the widow a debt, but what was recorded was the decision by the court in favor of the widow Mountney and the subsequent awarding to her of a payment by Horsey of “forty pounds of mercantable tobacco.”[3]

Horsey’s problem with Hanna Mountney apparently did not have any negative impact on his burgeoning community standing. The next year after the legal action, the County Court of Northampton County chose him for an assignment which bore considerable responsibility--the appraisement of the estate of the recently deceased Gabriel Searle on June 28, 1646.[4] In October 1647 a case came in front of the county court where a gun was taken from an Indian. It was not clear if the gun was stolen from the Indian or if it was confiscated, but the court decided that the gun should be returned to the Indian leader in the area and the court chose Horsey for that task.[5] Thus, it appeared that shortly after his arrival, Horsey developed a reputation as an individual who could be placed in a position of trust.

Four years after setting foot on Virginia soil, a land patent was awarded to Horsey in 1647 for four hundred acres along the Occahonack Creek on the Dawes Neck.[6] It is unknown if the burden of the land caused any financial problems for Horsey when in February 1647/8 Captain Francis Yardley had to take him to court for an unpaid debt of three hundred pounds of tobacco in payment for land. The court ruled that Horsey owed Yardley a legitimate debt. Apparently the debt was satisfied as it was never mentioned again.[7]

An important aspect of life that should not be overlooked is Horsey’s personal associations. The people with whom he interacted socially and commercially give an insight into what kind of person Horsey was. Interaction was evident in the early records as people of good character and standing were used again and again to witness commercial transactions and wills as well as to conduct inventories and provide depositions. Only trustworthy people were chosen for these tasks, and the frequency with which one appeared in the court records is the testimony to the esteem and prominence an individual probably had in that frontier environment.

Horsey soon began appearing as a witness to commercial transactions of other colonists and rapidly developed a reputation as an individual who could be trusted. In 1647 Thomas Munne engaged in a transaction for the rather substantial sum of three hundred pounds of tobacco and Horsey was chosen to witness Munne’s mark on the promissory note. In 1648 Horsey gave a deposition about John Williams’ flight across the Chesapeake Bay to the Western Shore of Virginia. Horsey had accompanied Nicholas Waddilowe when Waddilowe followed Williams to collect the four hundred pounds of tobacco that was owed to Waddilowe. Again in 1648, in this barter-driven economy, he witnessed a commercial agreement with the sale of eighty-five hides by George Collins to Mr. Stephen Charlton. Another deposition was given on behalf of Nicholas Waddilowe when Horsey confirmed that he had witnessed Waddilowe satisfy an outstanding debt to Mr. Richard Ward for three hundred pounds of tobacco.[8]

Witnessing and executing a will was an important responsibility not undertaken lightly in seventeenth century Virginia. When one was preparing for death, an individual trusted that the person selected to witness a will would make sure that the will was executed promptly and accurately as provided by the instructions of the deceased. The soon-to-be deceased individual wanted to ensure that provision was made for loved ones; and, in the event of the death of both parents, that any children would be raised properly. In the 1650s Horsey began appearing regularly in the probate records. While residing in Northampton County, Virginia, Horsey was asked to witness the will of William Moultie in 1657. After the will was probated, Horsey was assigned, along with John Ellis, to appraise the estate of Moultie and to return an inventory to the court. This apparently was also done in 1657. In Mr. Richard Vaughn’s will in 1656, Horsey is first referred to as “Mister”, an important term of respect that had to be earned. Mr. Horsey enjoyed his newly awarded social position when chosen by Vaughn to be the overseer for Vaughn’s children upon Vaughn’s death. The attachment of the title “Mr.” was not done by chance in this growing colonial community. Obviously Vaughn thought highly of Horsey, by choosing him as a guardian of his children. In 1658 Horsey was appointed the executor of John Ellis’ will. Interestingly, William Coulbourn was chosen to witness the same will which provides the first documentation of the acquaintance of Coulbourn and Horsey.[9] Coulbourn and Horsey would eventually develop what could be considered a life-long friendship while residing together in Northampton County.[10]

While Horsey would later develop the reputation as a non-conformist as far as the Anglican Church was concerned, in 1648 the young Horsey appeared to take his church responsibility seriously. In that year Horsey held the position of Churchwarden of the Upper Parish along with Richard Smith. In 1648 the two churchwardens along with their minister, Mr. Thomas Palmer, presented a case of adultery to the Northampton County Court. It seemed that Alice Robins, the wife of Sampson Robins, was “found in bed” with Thomas Gilbert. After the alleged case of adultery was presented, the court decided that the offenders were guilty and ordered the adulterous couple to publicly repent their sin. For the next three consecutive Sunday services, the pair was required to stand in front of the congregation with white sheets draped over their shoulders while holding white wands in their hands. Horsey was instructed to ensure that this sentence of public penance was completed.[11]

As Horsey aged, he began to think of his future when he married Sarah Williams, the widow of Michael Williams, sometime prior to the end of 1650.[12] There was no recording of their actual nuptials; merely an announcement in a court entry dated December 28, 1650, that the pair was married. The court record acknowledged a recording of a gift of cattle to each of the three children of Michael Williams by Horsey. Michael Williams, Jr., received a cow called “Motley,” Sarah Williams received a black cow called “Coal,” and Thomas Williams received a brown cow called “Bridgett.”[13] When Horsey married the widow Sarah Williams, he assumed guardianship over the three children of Michael Williams. Horsey had been a neighbor of Michael and Sarah Williams prior to Michael Williams’ death as they lived almost directly across Occahanock Creek from each other. Being neighbors in seventeenth century Virginia would have made the Williams family and Horsey very close.

Michael Williams had arrived in Virginia in 1635 at the age of eighteen.[14] Williams appears to have maintained a proper community standing just as Horsey had as he was called as a juror on several occasions despite being illiterate.[15] The last mention of him was in 1647 when he sat on a jury deciding on the collection of a substantial debt of over twenty-eight thousand pounds of tobacco. [16] Lacking any probate record for him, we do not have an exact date of Williams’ death, only that it occurred sometime between his last mention in 1647 and the announcement in 1650 of the marriage of his widow to Horsey.

On January 9, 1649/50, Horsey was chosen to sit on a jury of a case involving the ultimate crime--homicide. James Hughes stood accused of shooting a child by the name of Elizabeth Pope at the residence of Mr. Stephen Charlton. Testimony was given that the killing was accidental when James Hughes, seventeen years of age, stopped at Mr. Charlton’s residence. While there, he began admiring a gun that was in the kitchen leaning against the chimney and picked the gun up for a closer examination. Unfortunately, Hughes did not know that the gun was loaded and accidentally discharged a shot which struck Elizabeth Pope and killed her. Horsey and his fellow jurors believed that the killing was merely a sad accident after hearing the testimony and found Hughes guilty of manslaughter instead of murder.[17] This accident substantiated that death caused by the accidental discharge of a firearm was not just a modern concern.

Shortly after Hughes’ trial, Horsey’s financial situation was greatly improved when he and Nicholas Waddilowe financially backed an expedition to bring a ship with African slaves into Northampton County.[18] Not only does this transaction show that Horsey must have obtained some degree of wealth by this point, it also demonstrated that he accepted the practice of human slavery.

Along with fellow Northampton County resident, William Coulborne, Horsey signed the Tricesimo die Marty 1651. In this document, the signers pledged loyalty to England and the House of Commons and their leader Oliver Cromwell as it stood without the King and the House of Lords. This signing gave a considerable insight into the political attitude of Horsey as it was signed during the English Civil War after the Parliamentarians had seized control of England and executed King Charles. In effect, the document was tantamount to treason against the King and the House of Lords,[19] and this document illustrated his sympathy for the Parliamentarian concerns.

Two years later Horsey was involved in the investigation of another death, but this case was a personal one in which Horsey was potentially a suspect. In 1651 a servant of Horsey’s, Joan Dreson, was found dead. A jury of inquest, the equivalent of the modern-day grand jury, was empanelled and they ruled that Dreson hanged herself and that her death was a suicide, not a homicide.[20]

What appeared to be an ever-improving situation for Horsey took a turn for the worse when he ran afoul of the law in Northampton County at a turning point in his personal history in 1652. The Governor of Virginia, Richard Bennett, imposed a substantial tax on the residents of Northampton County, yet did not call for a representative from Northampton County to sit in the Virginia House of Burgesses in James City. Although they had no representation in the legislature, the residents of Northampton County were still required to pay a tax of forty-six pounds of tobacco per person. The payment of these taxes, required by the Assembly, apparently caused some consternation for Horsey and his fellow citizens. It is evident through examining the court records that Horsey was set on not paying these required taxes for himself and his family. The residents of Northampton County were so upset at this apparent taxation without representation that they formed their own “People’s Committee” to address the issue. Six prominent individuals were selected by their fellow citizens to serve on this committee which included Horsey. As Horsey believed that the required taxes were not legal for the residents of Northampton County, he appeared to be a suitable choice for membership on the committee, whose main function was to deliver a protest to Governor Bennett.[21]

On March 30, 1652, the members of the new committee gathered together to draft their letter of protest. The letter informed the governor that the Northampton County residents had a history of being loyal and always paying their required taxes, but did not understand why they had been denied representation since 1647. The committee informed the governor that Northampton County felt sequestered from the rest of Virginia and that the imposed taxes were illegal. They justified this reasoning because the governor declined to allow Northampton County adequate representation in the legislature and a voice in electing their governor. Horsey and his comrades actually informed Governor Bennett that they believed resistance to the tax was lawful and that a majority of Eastern Shore residents held the same view.[22] With their election by their peers and subsequent actions, Horsey and his compatriots served as de facto self-proclaimed burgesses, and brought the concerns of their constituents to their governor.

Horsey and his fellow tax opponents backed up their statements with action because they stopped paying their taxes after the posting of the letter. In 1652 Mr. John James, the appointed tax collector for Northampton County, filed a complaint with the county court. In his complaint, James requested that the court order Stephen Horsey and Nicholas Waddilowe to pay their overdue taxes.[23] The impending intervention by the county court was an additional, unexpected problem for Horsey. During the month of July 1653, the county court heard testimony concerning Horsey’s failure to pay his required taxes. Horsey’s fellow residents testified about the negative ramblings spouted by Horsey against the county court and its efforts to collect the overdue taxes. On July 27, 1653, Thomas Harmanson recounted that Horsey called the court “wrong” and made up of “a company of villains.” On the same day John Severn testified that Horsey said Northampton County “would be ruined by a company of asses and villains.” Both Harmanson and Severn testified that they were at a meeting held on June 11, 1653, when Horsey made these statements.[24]

Horsey had now become the leader of the anti-tax movement and a vocal critic of both the colonial government and the local Northampton Court for what Horsey believed was their blind following of the governor. As a result of his leadership, he was branded a troublemaker for his fight against what he saw as unfair taxation. On July 27, 1653, the court in their official finding declared that Horsey “had been very mutinous and repugnant to the government.” The court scoffed at Horsey’s election to the “People’s Committee” and stated that he should be “incapable of any office or public employment” because of his poor demeanor. As a result of the testimony, the court ruled that Horsey should be imprisoned and fined three hundred pounds of tobacco.[25] Also ordered arrested and fined were William Johnson Taylor and John Dolling. The county magistrates complained to Governor Richard Bennett that they were scandalized by the words of Horsey. They told the governor that they believed that Horsey’s intent was to create an insurrection against the government with resistance against the required taxes as its base.[26]

Horsey’s aversion to paying taxes continued when he opted not to pay his required tithes to the Anglican Church. The official religion of Virginia was the Anglican Church of England and all parishioners were legally bound to financially support both the church and its minister. To add teeth to this requirement, the secular legal authorities enforced this obligation and heard complaints about noncompliance. After the tax protest, problems continued for Horsey when in December 1658 the Anglican minister of Hungers Parish, Rev. Mr. Thomas Teackle, went after Horsey for the nonpayment of church dues. Rev. Teackle demanded that the county court order Horsey and eleven others to pay their back dues of fifty-three pounds of tobacco each.[27] The court sided with Rev. Teackle and ordered Horsey to make good on the overdue tithes or face the “attachments” of his person and estate. The Sheriff of Northampton County was given the task of serving these attachments. Horsey must have had an intuition about what was awaiting him because he left Virginia sometime after the attachments were ordered. Horsey probably relocated to Maryland as of January 27, 1660/61, because the Northampton Sheriff was unable to find him. On that date, the sheriff returned the Northampton court order non est inventus, which meant that the order could not be served. Ambrose Dixon also fled presumably at the same time as Horsey to avoid prosecution, as his order was also returned non est inventus.[28] At the same session of court when the order against Horsey was returned, Rev. Teackle initiated prosecution against seventeen others for non -payment of church dues, and included among number was William Coulbourn. [29] Coulbourn and Horsey, both members of Hungers Parish, obviously were of the same thought when it came to the payment of the church taxes. The religious affiliation of Horsey is unclear at this point, and there is no record of fraternization with the Quakers. Coulbourn’s affections for the Quakers became public record with his arrest for entertaining Quakers, a serious violation of Virginian law at the time. William Coulbourn would soon follow Horsey north into Maryland, presumably also to avoid any further legal entanglements over his religious affiliations and beliefs.[30]

After wearing out his welcome with the Virginian authorities, Horsey moved north with his large family into Maryland, the expanding province of the Calvert family. However, the Virginian leadership was not content in letting Horsey and some of his compatriots relocate peacefully to Maryland. In October 1663 Colonel Edmund Scarborough mounted an expedition into the Annamessex area of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the area where Horsey had now settled. Scarborough intended to arrest Horsey and bring him back to Virginia. Horsey, at this point, was seen by the Virginian authorities as the leader of the rebellious movement against their authority. Colonel Scarborough and his force of forty mounted men arrived at Horsey’s new residence on October 11, 1663, whereupon the Commands of the Assembly of Virginia against Horsey were presented. Horsey was “arrested” by Scarborough, but Horsey refused to accompany the party back to Virginia, instead declaring that he was going to remain in Maryland and maintain allegiance to the King and Lord Baltimore.[31]

In Colonel Scarborough’s official report, he labeled Horsey as an “ignorant, yet insolent officer” who could not get along with others. The colonel recounted to the Virginia Court that Horsey, who had been elected as a burgess, was evicted by the Assembly of Virginia for “factious and tumultuous” behavior. It appears that the official opinion of Horsey by this time was that he was a serious non-conformist, especially in the area of religion. After all the documentation of his resistance to the support of the Anglican Church was provided, it was mentioned that none of his children had ever been baptized into any church, a grievous sin in the eyes of pious Anglicans.[32]

By this point, the Horsey family was sizeable with eight children, three of which were the children of Sarah Horsey by her first marriage. Sarah had borne Stephen Horsey five children in Virginia—Stephen, Jr., John, Samuel, Mary and Abigail. Coming with the family were John Roche, Benjamin Sumner and Thomas Whitfield. An application for land was made to the Governor of Maryland, Charles Calvert; and a patent for 650 acres was awarded to Horsey on September 3, 1663, for bringing his family to Maryland. The same day the patent was recorded, John Elzey’s survey was finalized. Horsey’s new estate, Coleborne, was bounded on one side by the Annamessex River, the other side by Colborne Creek and on the remaining sides by a marked tree and a beaver dam. Horsey settled next door to William Coulbourn, situating themselves just across Colbourne Creek from each other.[33] Two more sons, Nathaniel and Isaac, were born once the Horseys settled in Annamessex. Nathaniel was born in 1664 and Isaac in 1665.[34]

Arriving in Calvert’s Maryland on the Lower Eastern Shore, the new settlers had to go about establishing a government for their newly formed county. Horsey was immediately recognized as a leader when he was selected to sit on the first county court which was given the job of running the new county. Charles Calvert appointed Horsey on December 11, 1665, along with Captain William Thorne, Mr. William Stevens, Mr. George Johnson, Mr. John Winder, Mr. James Jones and Mr. Henry Boston. Horsey was able to count himself among the “Who’s Who” list of the founding fathers of Somerset County. To add to this prestigious leadership role, Horsey found himself ensconced with the title of “Mister”.[35] Horsey sat as a regular member of the Somerset County Court through the winter and spring of 1666. It is not known how many times Horsey traveled across the Chesapeake Bay, but it is a fact that he traveled there in 1665 along with Captain Thorne and met with Charles Calvert, who personally swore in the two new county commissioners.[36]

Charles Calvert recognized the need to prevent lawlessness from existing in the new county so Calvert bestowed a grand honor on Mr. Horsey. Calvert selected Horsey to serve as the first Sheriff of Somerset County on August 22, 1666. In the proclamation appointing Horsey as the sheriff, Calvert proclaimed that he had “special confidence and trust in you, Stephen Horsey, gentleman,” when Calvert decided to “ordain and appoint you Sheriff of the County of Somerset.” The new sheriff was instructed to treat everyone fairly regardless of whether they were rich or poor and to be a just arbitrator. The term of office for Sheriff Horsey was for one year. [37] The sheriff was not left on his own to enforce justice; he was assisted by four appointed constables and authorized to activate the posse comitatus if necessary. The posse comitatus gave the sheriff the legal authority to commandeer all men able to help, along with their firearms, horses and boats.[38]

Sheriff Horsey’s first order of business was to act as the county tax collector after he was sworn in on September 4, 1666. [39] Charles Calvert ordered the sheriff to compile a list of “all the tithables within your county.” On the list the sheriff was to record all taxable persons by their names and location. The list was to be sent to the governor at St. Mary’s and also posted at the Somerset County Court.[40] Even though the governor ordered that law and order be maintained, Governor Calvert told the new sheriff that “first things were first” and made the collection of taxes a priority. This action helped foster the notion that the primary reasons behind the establishment of the colony were the desires to garner wealth and to maintain law and order.

Horsey’s task of policing Somerset County turned out to be fairly uneventful by modern standards. Criminal cases involving assault and battery, theft, slander and fornication comprised most of Sheriff Horsey’s law enforcement activities. After examining the court records of Somerset County during 1666-67, it appears the sheriff was not primarily involved in the apprehension of criminals. Most victims of crimes presented their own cases to the county court, and the justices instructed that certain offenders be either arrested by warrant or merely summoned before the court. At that point Sheriff Horsey would take over. Once the case was presented, it became his responsibility to ensure the attendance of offenders at the following session of court. A large part of the sheriff’s duties involved the enforcement of civil judgments in regard to debts or the levying of writs. Civil cases actually comprised the majority of the records in colonial Somerset County. The sheriff also at times seemed to be primarily a county jailer rather than a police officer. Horsey was also responsible for the publication of any proclamations by the King or the governor.[41]

The execution of any sentence imposed on a defendant by the court was the responsibility of the sheriff. On March 26, 1667, the county court heard a case involving fornication and the subsequent birth of a bastard child. A servant by the name of Susanna Brayfield was accused of having had an illicit relationship with John Griffiths. Brayfield’s master, John Cooper, brought the case before the court because Brayfield’s pregnancy made Cooper lose the use of Brayfield’s labor for several months. The court found both Brayfield and Griffiths guilty of fornication, and, as part of the sentence, ordered that Brayfield be “publickly whipped.” The whipping would have been the task of Sheriff Horsey.[42]

One of the best-documented cases for Sheriff Horsey involved the sizable theft of some corn. On March 11, 1667, a complaint of the theft led to the issuance of arrest warrants for three Somerset County residents--John Johnson, John Richards and Alexander King. According to the records the three were arrested and the warrants were executed by Thomas Gillis. There is no record of Gillis’ official position, but it is notable that the sheriff did not make the arrest. It was not until after the trio’s apprehension that Sheriff Horsey became involved when he took custody of them and incarcerated them pending their court appearance.[43] In the early days of Somerset County the incarceration of prisoners tended to be a hardship on the sheriff as the first county jail was not built until Sheriff William Coulbourn's tenure in 1674. The lack of a jail required the sheriff to quarter the prisoners in the Sheriff’s private residence.[44]

In the spring of 1667 the first term of Sheriff Horsey was nearing an end, and it came time for the selection of a new sheriff. Calvert, following an old English tradition, asked the county leaders of Somerset to nominate three individuals from which Calvert would then select the new sheriff. Sheriff Horsey was renominated along with William Coulborn and William Thorne. Horsey was supposed to have been limited to serving one term as Somerset County’s sheriff, but Calvert overlooked that rule and selected Horsey to serve a second one-year term beginning April 23, 1667. Horsey would serve another year as the sheriff until replaced by George Johnson.[45] After that Horsey reverted to his role as a commissioner for Somerset County.[46]

Horsey continued his climb to prominence in Somerset County when he began using the title “Chief Judge of the Court” in 1668.[47] It is notable to compare the success Horsey achieved in Maryland with the lack of favor in which he found himself in Virginia in the late 1650s. Horsey was never shown to be a Quaker or to have any inclinations toward the Quaker beliefs held by his friend William Coulbourn, but he was definitely a non-conformist as far as the Anglican Church was concerned. Had Horsey been associated with the Quakers, he would never have found the prominence and success in Virginia or even back in England that he enjoyed in Maryland. In England, the ruling class believed that “the Quakers were the ultimate threat to both church and state”. All over England during the seventeenth century, the government jailed Quakers and threw them out of the country. King Charles II actually believed that England would be better off if there were no Quakers.[48] Thus it was quite remarkable that the man who was once arrested and fined after being labeled a mutinous troublemaker rose to the positions--of county commissioner, sheriff and ultimately that of a judge.

The last achievement of Horsey occurred in February 1668/69 when his fellow residents elected him to represent their county in Somerset’s first delegation to the Assembly in St. Mary’s. Horsey was elected with William Stevens to this honorable position, but he did not claim his seat in the Assembly, citing poor health as the reason he could not attend.[49]

In April 1671 Horsey found himself near death with the onset of illness. Wanting to provide for his offspring’s continued enrichment, Horsey wrote a will leaving his entire estate to his children. An interesting fact in the will is that his wife Sarah is not mentioned anywhere in the document, which leads to speculation that she must already have been dead. No record of her death has been located. The land itself, Coleborne, was bequeathed to his three youngest sons--Samuel, Nathaniel and Isaac. Nathaniel and Isaac, the youngest children, were only seven and six years old respectively at their father’s death. Provisions were made in the will for the entire tract of land to be kept together, and then to be equally divided between Samuel, Nathaniel and Isaac when Isaac turned twenty-one years old. As for the rest of the estate, all was to be equally divided between the children when Isaac turned twenty-one. The only immediate bequest was to Horsey’s oldest sons, Stephen, Jr., and John, who received all of their father’s clothes.[50] After residing in Maryland only ten years, Stephen Horsey, Sr., died on August 8, 1671 at about the age of fifty-one years and was buried at his plantation, Coleborne.[51]

A search has been made for the inventory of Stephen Horsey, but it was either never recorded or it was lost. Because of that we can only speculate about the wealth and importance of Horsey since an exact record to substantiate any true account of his wealth cannot be produced. One can only speculate that Horsey would have been a man fairly well off by seventeenth century standards, especially when it is taken into account that his close associates all ranked among the richest residents of Somerset County.[52] We do have the taxable sheep list of 1660 from Northampton County which listed him as having fifteen sheep, a larger-than-average number. [53]

There are some things that can be determined about Stephen Horsey. We know he died at about the age of fifty-one and left behind a large family, and that he was probably a widower. Besides his record of being a political agitator in the 1650s, what did he do for a living? There are two references that described Horsey as having the profession of a “cooper”, or a barrel maker, in addition to a planter.[54] One has to assume that is how he continued to make his livelihood when he came to Maryland; however, it would have been supplemented by the income that he received from his civil service. There is no specific mention of his membership in the Virginia militia, but in the 1650s Horsey periodically appears in the court records with the title of some military rank. Captain Richard Vaughn referred to Horsey as Lieutenant Stephen Horsey in Vaughn’s will in 1656. In 1658 he is referred to as “Captain” Horsey when listed in the account of Bridgett and Elizabeth Charlton. He is again referred to as “Captain” Horsey in the court records which detailed the Teackle controversy in 1658.[55] These references tend to lend credibility to the notion that Horsey was a member of the Virginia militia; however, no mention is made of Horsey possessing either any military rank or any membership in the militia once he relocated to Maryland. It is also evident that Horsey was literate due to the fact that he did not have to make his mark on a document; he was capable of signing his name.

Two of Horsey’s sons married the daughters of his longtime friend, Randall Revell. We know there were many associations between Horsey and the other prominent residents of Somerset County, but we actually have the court records which provide documentation that Horsey described Randall Revell as a “friend.” [56] Stephen Horsey, Jr., married Hannah Revell and Nathaniel Horsey married Sarah Revell. Stephen Horsey, Sr. did not live to see any grandchildren as his first grandchild John Horsey, the son of Stephen, Jr., was born in 1681. His name continued with the birth of Stephen Horsey, III, another son of Stephen, Jr., in 1688.

Stephen Horsey left behind sons and daughters who continued the Horsey family line in America. He had also raised the three children of Michael Williams as his own. Horsey’s oldest son, Stephen, Jr., and his wife Hannah Revell had six children, including Stephen, III. Nathaniel Horsey and his wife Sarah had three sons; their first named Revell Horsey. Sadly, two of Stephen Horsey, Sr.’s, children, John and Mary, both died in 1678 within a month of each other. They were buried with their father on the Coleborne Plantation.[57]

Even though Horsey only resided on Maryland’s Eastern Shore for about ten years and died five years after the founding of Somerset County, Horsey left an indelible imprint as one of Somerset County’s founding fathers. The leadership which he experienced during the tax protest in Virginia propelled him into the significant position of leadership he enjoyed in Charles Calvert’s domain. Obviously respected by Calvert, he championed the causes of the ordinary people and won their support as their sheriff, judge and legislative member. Stephen Horsey was clearly both an architect of the new county as well as one of its most prominent early examples of leadership.





Footnotes:

1 Somerset County Judicial Records 1670-1671, Archives of Maryland, CR 44,861; On August 10, 1670, Stephen Horsey was recorded as giving a deposition about the surveying of a tract of land and Horsey was described as “aged 50 years or thereabouts,” which would place 1620 as an approximation of the year of Horsey’s birth.




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2 George C. Greer, Early Virginia Records 1623-1666, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1982) p. 167. Ames, Susie M., ed., County Court Records of Accomac Northampton County Virginia, 1640-1645, (Charlottesville, VA: The University of Virginia Press, 1973.) p. 222. In 1643, Northampton County included all of what would become Virginia’s Eastern Shore, including Accomac County. A total of seven others came over with Horsey: John Coleman, Henry Edwards, Arthur Whitehead, Nicolas Everie, John Ellis, Henry Boston and Thomas Chapman.

3 NCR3 Northampton County Records, Northampton County Courthouse, Eastville, VA , Vol. 3, No. 3(microfilm Reel3, Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 47. (hereinafter referred to as NCR3 Northampton County Records)

4 Ibid., fol. 142. Also ordered to join Horsey on the appraisal were John Hinman, Christopher Kirke and Nicholas Waddeloe. The inventory of Searle was presented to the court almost two years later on July 31, 1648. The completed inventory can be found in folio 170, NCR Northampton County Records Book 1645-1651.

5 Ibid., p. 121.

6 Ralph T. Whitelaw, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, (Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1989), p. 507

7 NCR3 Northampton County Records, Reel 3, Vol. 3 No.3 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 131.

8 Ibid., fol. 73, fol. 169, p. 158, fol. 203.

9 Dr. Howard Mackey and Marlene A. Groves, et al, eds., Northampton County Records; Vol. 5, 1654-1655, pp. 191-3 Vol. 6-8 1655-1657, p.8. Vol. 7 1657-1666, pp. 36, 50-2.

10 Stephen Horsey and William Coulbourn would apparently become close friends as they moved to Somerset County together and patented tracts of land next to one another.

11 NCR3 Northamton County Records, Vol. 3 No. 3,(microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 149.

12 NCR3 Northampton County Records, 1651-1654 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 193. In the court record, Stephen Horsey is mentioned as married to the widow of Michael Williams when he presented the children of Michael Williams with the gift of cattle.

13 NCR3 Northampton County Court Records Vol. 4. No. 4 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 193.

14 John C. Hotten, Original Lists of Persons of Quality 1600-1700, (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1986), p. 124; Whitelaw, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, p. 460.

15 When Michael Williams appeared in official documents, he had to make his mark instead of signing his name.

16 Mackey, Northampton County Records, Vol. 3 . p. 187. This is the last mention of Michael Williams in any of the historical records. There is no mention of his death, his will or his inventory; just the announcement that his widow was married to Stephen Horsey by 1650. When Williams obtained his patent (Northampton County Orders Deeds Wills, p. 42) Williams had to make his mark instead of signing his name.

17 NCR3 Northampton County Records Vol. 3 No. 3 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 197, fol. 197, Horsey served on the jury with eleven of his fellow citizens including Nicholas Waddelowe, Walter Irbye, Henry Field, Alex Adison and Randall Revell.

18 NCR3 Northampton County Record Book, Vol. 3 No.3 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) fol. 204.

19 Stephen Horsey, Loyalty Oath 1651, NCR3 Northampton County Records Vol.3 No. 3(microfilm) p. 188-89

20 Mackey, Northampton Co Records 1651-1654 p. 46

21 Jennings Cropper Wise, Ye Kingdome of Accawmacke or the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, Richmond, VA: The Bell Book and Stationary Company, 1911., pp. 137-9.

22 Mackey, Northampton County Records Book IV .. p. 53. The letter was signed by Stephen Horsey, Stephen Charlton, William Whittington, Leayne Denwood, John Ellis and John Nuthall. A full copy of the letter can be found in the Appendix.

23 NCR3 Northampton County Records 1651-1654, (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) fol. 67, fol. 91.

24 NCR3 Northampton County Orders Deeds Wills 1651-1654. (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University )fol. 183.

25 NCR3 Northampton County Orders Deeds Wills 1651-1654 (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University )p. 179, fol. 179. Also fined were Thomas Johnson (500 lbs.), William Johnson Taylor (300 lbs.) and John Dolling (300 lbs.)

26 Mackey, Northampton County Records 1651-1654, p. 157.

27 NCO2 Northampton County Court Orders 1657-1664, Reel 2, Vol. 8 N0. 8. (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) fol.10-11-36, included in the list with Horsey were Mr. Levin Denwood, Captain William Mitchell and Ambrose Dixon.

28 Ibid., p. 123, fol. 123.

29 Ibid. p. 123.

30 “March 1659-60 – 11th Commonwealth,” transcribed by William Waller Henry, The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Vol. 1 New York, R.W.G. Barlow, 1823, p.532; “March 1661-2 14th Charles II,” transcribed by William Waller Henry, The Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Vol. II, New York, R.W.G. Barlow, 1823. p. 180; NCO2 Northampton County Court Orders Reel 2, Vol.8 1657-1664, (microfilm Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 88, fol. 88, fol. 89. It is debatable about whether Horsey was a Quaker or not. While there are definitive court records that seem to prove Coulbourn’s association with the Quakers, they are not as clear with Horsey. In the Northampton Court record, Horsey testified that Coulbourn intended to continue to associate with the Quakers.

31 Report of Colonel Edmund Scarborough to the Governor and Council of Virginia on his expedition into Maryland in October, 1663, found in Whitelaw, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, pp. 1414-1418.

32 Ibid.

33 Patent of Colborne, found in Maryland Land Office Patent Record 1663-1664, (microfilm SR 7348 Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University), p.440.

34 Somerset IKL Births, Deaths and Marriages 1649-1720 (microfilm CR 50,078 Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University), Powell, Jody, Somerset County Maryland Liber IKL, 1992, pp. 57-58

35 J. Hall Pleasants, ed. Somerset County Court Proceedings 1665-1668 Archives of Maryland LIV, Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, p. 610. (hereinafter referred to as Archives of Maryland LIV)

36 Ibid., p. 637.

37 Ibid, pp. 631-3, p, 643

38 Ibid., Karraker, Seventeenth Century Sheriff, pp. 147-8.

39 Archives of Maryland LIV, Somerset County Court, p. 637

40 Ibid., p.633

41 Ibid., pp. 610-708; Karraker, Seventeenth Century Sheriff, p. 152.

42 Archives of Maryland, LIV, pp. 642-3, p. 659.

43 Ibid., p. 707, p. 712.

44 Archives of Maryland, II, pp. 413-4.

45 Somerset County Court Records, microfilm, Liber O1, (Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University) p. 54

46 Archives of Maryland LIV, p. 710

47 Ibid, p. 714

48 Reich, Jerome R. Colonial America, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1989) p. 54, p. 93

49 Clayton Torrence, Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Baltimore, MD: Regional Publishing Company, p. 302

50 Will of Stephen Horsey, Sr., Prerogative Court Record 1635- 1674, (microfilm, Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University, SR 4396) pp. 458-9.

51 Somerset IKL Births, Deaths and Marriages 1649-1720 (microfilm CR 50,078 Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University)

52 Inventories of William Coulbourn (255 pounds sterling) and Ambrose Dixon (326 pounds Sterling)

53 Northampton County Court Orders, Vol 8, No. 8 (microfilm) fol. 89. The average sheep ownership was fifteen sheep. Compare the figure with that of William Coulbourn who only has two sheep on the list.

54 NCR3, Northampton County Records, Reel 3, (microfilm)Vol 4. No. 4, fol. 183; p. 253; Horsey is described as a “cooper” in a letter to Governor Bennett and there is a second listing in the court record where he is described as a “cooper.” The Boston book listed “cooper” as Horsey’s occupation.

55 Mackey, Northampton County Record , Vol 8. No. 8, p. 42, p.101, p.108

56 Somerset County Judicial Record 1670-1671, Archives of Maryland, CR 44,861, p. 9

57 Powell, Jody, Somerset County Maryland Liber IKL, 1992, pp. 57-58. The orginal record was examined but the pages that document the Horsey family were too faint to be read.

Sources Used

Somerset Judicial Records (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD.

Births, Deaths and Marriages IKL 1649-1720 (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Prerogative Court Inventories and Accounts (microfilm), Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD. Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Somerset County Inventories (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Somerset Deeds (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Northampton County Court Records (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Maryland Land Office, Land Patent and Survey, (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Northampton County Court Orders (microfilm), Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD

Ames, Susie M, ed., County Court Records of Accomack – Northampton Virginia 1640-1645. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1973.

Browne, William H, et al., eds. Archives of Maryland, 1-72 Vols. Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, 1883- 1972

Coldham, Peter Wilson The King’s Passenger to Maryland and Virginia, Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1997.

Coldham, Peter Wilson. The Complete Book of Emmigrants 1607-1660, Baltimore, MD Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1987.

Dozer, Donald M. Portrait of the Free State – A History of Maryland., Cambridge, MD Tidewater Publishers, 1976.

Dyden, Ruth T. Land Records of Somerset County, 1992.

Greer, George Cabell Early Virginia Immigrants 1623-1666, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1982

Filby, P. William and Meyer, Mary K., ed., Passenger and Immigrant Lists Index, Detroit, MI: Gale Research Company, 1981-1986

Hening, William Waller, ed. The Statutes at Large – Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Volumes One and Two, New York, NY: R.W.G. Barlow, 1823.

Hotton, John C., ed., The Original Lists of Persons of Quality 1600-1700. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc.,1986.

Karraker, Cyrus H. The Seventeenth Century Sheriff. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1930.

Mackey, Dr. Howard, ed., et al, Northampton County Virginia Record Books, Volumes 5-8, Rockport, ME: Picton Press: 1999-2002.

Teppa, Michael, ed. New World Immigrants, Vol.1 and Vol. 2, Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1980.

Torrence, Clayton. Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Baltimore, MD: Regional Publishing Company, 1979.

Whitelaw, Ralph T. Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Camden, ME: Picton Press, 1989

Wise, Jennings Cropper, Ye Kingdome of Accawmacke or the Eastern Shore of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, Richmond, VA: The Bell Book and Stationary Company, 1911.

Wise, Matthew M. The Boston Family of Maryland, Charlotte, NC: The Demar Company, 1986.


Appendix 1
Will of Stephen Horsey

Will of Stephen Horsey Sr., Prerogative Court Record 1635- 1674, (microfilm, Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture at Salisbury University, SR 4396) pp. 458-9

In the name of God amen, I Stephen Horsey Sr. do now make my last will and testament being weak in body but in perfect memory. First I bequeath my soul to the almighty God and my body to the Earth.
In the land which I now live on, called by the name Coleborne, I give and bequeath to my three youngest sons, Samuel, Nathaniel and Isaac Horsey to be equally divided and shared between them when as Isaac my youngest son comes of the age of one and twenty years.
As for the rest of my estate moveable and unmovable within doors and without to be kept together till my youngest son is of the age here mentioned, then to be equally divided amongst them all that is to say to Stephen Horsey, John Horsey, Samuel, Nathaniel, Isaac, Mary and Abigail Horsey. Moreover I do constitute , ordain and appoint my two eldest sons Stephen and John Horsey to be my true and lawful Executors andAdministrators and into whose charge next unto God I leave my small children to look after and to keep the estate together till that time here within mentioned, but if either of them should leave my plantation to start their own then the other to take the care upon him to look after my estate till my youngest is of age and if the other executor should likewise go, that then my next oldest son and Michael Williams to look after the estate till my youngest son is of age.
I do appoint Michael Williams, Alexander Draper and Benjamin Sumner to look after my estate if my two executors leaves them care of my children and the improvement of the estate till my youngest son is one and twenty years, but if either of my executors shall think fit towards the starting or founding of an orchard upon their own land that they may take the servants from my plantation in the wintertime to do it.
Furthermore if either of them shall think to employ a servant or more with an overseer upon their land provided that the produce of the labor be amongst the rest of my children. My wearing clothes I give between my two eldest sons Stephen Horsey and John Horsey.
This is my last will and testament unto which I set my hand and seal April 10, 1671.
----- Stephen Horsey (signature)

This above written and declared by Stephen Horsey to be his last will and testament and subscribed in the presence of us.

----- John Wallop (signature)
----- Henry Dowell (mark)


Appendix 2
Letter to Governor Bennett of Virginia

The XXX day of March anno 1652

We (whose names are underwritten) this day made choice of by the inhabitants of Northampton County in Virginia to give information and instructions to gent. Elected burgesses for this present grand assembly (in relation to such matters as conduce to our peace and safety) and for the recording of those agreements which (at present) we are capable and sensible of in our said county of Northampton.

We the inhabitants of Northampton County do complain that from time to time (particular years past) we have submitted and been obedient unto the payment of public taxation, but after the years 1647 since that time we concern and have found that the taxes were very weighty, but in a more special manner (under favor) we are very sensible of the taxation of forty-six pounds of tobacco per person (this present year) and desire that the sum may be taken off the charge of the county. Further we allege that after 1647 we did understand and suppose our county of Northampton to be disjoined and sequestered from the rest of Virginia, therefore that law which requireth and enjoyeth taxation from us to be arbitrary and illegal for as much as we had neither summons for election of burgesses nor voice in the assembly (during this time aforesaid) but only the singular burgesses in September anno 1651. We conclude that we may lawfully do protest against the proceedings in the acts of assembly for public taxation (which have relation to Northampton County since the year 1647.)

The gent. Who are (at present) to speak in our behalf sufficiently declare what is necessary to be expressed to their effect (which we refer to them) our desire is that there may be an annual choice of magistrates in Northampton County and if our county may not have the privilege of a particular government and propriety (at present) granted with in our precincts that then you request and plead that all causes, suits or trials of what nature so ever may be commenced and for further time determined in our said county of Northampton.

If there be a free and general vote for a governor where in they shall elect Mr. Richard Bennett we the inhabitants of Northampton County with unanimous consent and preliminary approbation render our voices for the said Esq. Bennett. The people do further desire that the taxation for forty six pounds of tobacco a head may not be collected by the sheriff (until answer of the question from the grand assemblt no summoned.

Witness our names subscribed the day and year aforesaid.

Stephen Charlton, William Whittington, Levin Denwood, John Ellis, John Nuthall
Stephen Horsey


Appendix 3
Oath of Office of the Sheriff

Archives of Maryland LIV, Somerset County Court Proceedings 1665-1668, p. 633
The oath of the Office of the Sheriff, as administered in St. Mary’s by Charles Calvert

You shall well and truly serve the Right Honorable the Lord Proprietary in the office of a sheriff of the County of Somerset and do his Lordship’s profits in all things that belongs unto you by way of office as far forth as you can or may you shall truly and rightfully treat the people of your Sheriffwick and do right to the poor as well as to the rich in all that belongs to your office you shall do no wrong to any man for any gift, favor. Hate or other affection you shall duly execute so far as you may all such writs and warrants as shall be to you by lawful authority and thereof you shall make a true return according to the tenor of the writ. So help you God.




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