- Born: 1620, Isle of Wight, England
- Marriage (1): Sarah Clarkson
- Died: 08 Aug 1671, Somerset Co., MD
See Torrence's Old Somerset, pages 297-30, for details about Stephen Horsey.
Some items from the Miles Files:
As Stephen Horse his name appears in 1643 as a headright to a patent for land granted Obedience Robins, of Northampton Count, Virginia. Horsey settled in Northampton County, on whose records his name frequently appears during the course of the succeeding eighteen years. Prior to December, 1650, Stephen Horsey married Sarah, widow of Michael Williams, deceased, in Northampton County. Stephen Horsey is described as a "cooper" by trade; though the fact that he was a tradesman seemed in no way to affect his exercising a vigorous influence in popular affairs in Northampton County. On March 25, 1652, he signed (with 116 other persons) the "engagement tendered to ye Inhabitants of Northampton County," thereby subscribing a promise "to be true and faithful to the Commonwealth of England as it is now Established without King or House of Lords." This "engagement" was one which the strongly "royalist" Eastern Shore of Virginia was asked to subscribe to upon the surrender of Virginia to the Parliamentary Commissioners on their arrival in that colony in March, 1651/2, after the dethronement and execution of Charles I. The Parliamentary Government in England, which of course extended to the colony of Virginia, "at first found much support in Northampton County, especially among the middle class and tradesmen." However, this favor towards Parliament did not last long, owing to certain hardships which resulted to the tobacco trade from the enforcement of the Navigation Acts. Then, too, "for sometime the belief had been quite general among the inhabitants ... that Northampton County had become a separate province, the conviction being heightened by the failure of the Governor to call for Burgesses. An intense spirit of independence had therefore grown up among the people and nothing in common was felt to exist between Northampton and the Western Shore." The Royalist Party, which had become very strong, took advantage of this situation and bringing its influence to bear "appealed to the people to resist the unjust burdens imposed upon them by the Assembly at James City and to assert their independence of a government in which their sole participation was to defray its expense." There were repeated popular meetings in Northampton and the agitators were successful in their work. As the result of this agitation a committee of six citizens was "selected by vote of the people to draw up a protest against their present condition and to act in all things as the best interests of the people might demand." This committee consisted of Stephen Charlton, Levyne Denwood, John Nuthall, William Whittington, John Ellis and Stephen Horsey. This committee drew up, signed and presented to the Virginia authorities the celebrated "Northampton Protest" of March 30, 1652; a protest in fact against "taxation without representation." Thus it is that we find Stephen Horsey, in 1652, in the very thick of the fight for "popular rights" and esteemed by the people a man worthy of their confidence to represent them in presenting their grievances. In July, 1653, Stephen Horsey appears upon the records as challenging a certain decision of the Northampton Court embodied in an order relative to the reprisal of a ship. In a popular meeting held in "Doctor Hack's old field" Horsey violently assailed the members of the court, calling them "asses and villanes." In this same year, 1653, we find Stephen Horsey returned as a Burgess from Northampton County to the Virginia Assembly with Thomas Johnson and William Mellin as the two other Burgesses from that county. Ten years later Colonel Edmund Scarburgh in a bitter attack on Stephen Horsey, referring to the fact that he had been "once elected a Burgess by ye Comon Crowd & thrown out by ye Assembly for a factious and tumultuous person; A man repugnant to all Govmt." We indeed have Horsey's record as that of an agitator in behalf of the people's rights; we know that he was indeed "one of the people." It is no doubt true that Horsey was prevented from taking the seat in the Assembly to which he had been elected by "the people." But in our appreciation of the man we should not fail to throw into the scale of judgment as we weigh him, the facts that Scarburgh was always contemptuous of the "Comon Crowd" (except when he could bend them to his own will), and that the Virginia Assembly was not particularly lenient towards those who were deemed in opposition to the government. Stephen Horsey was a man who possessed an independent spirit and never once do we find him failing to exercise it. Aggressively independent in matters political, we find that Stephen Horsey was vigorously non-conformist in matters religious. His enemy, Scarburgh, referred to him in 1663 as "of all sects yet professedly none, Constant in nothing but opposing Church Gownt his children at great ages yet unchristened . . ." While this is intended as a biting item of criticism, yet underlying it is evidently the fact that Stephen Horsey was interested in the liberal movements in religion which were prominent at the time, and yet was not content to give his allegiance to any one of them. From his intimate association with the Quakers and the item relative to his children not having been baptized leads one to think that he may have affiliated with these "followers of the Inner Light." Yet there is no evidence to this effect; and Scarburgh's statement that he professed membership in no sect certainly excludes Horsey from membership in "Friends Meeting." Though we cannot "religiously denominate" Stephen Horsey, yet we do find him most intimately associated with the Quakers and we can prove beyond doubt his absolute non-conformity in relation to the Church of England. As early as November, 1658, Stephen Horsey (together with Ambrose Dixon, Levin Denwood, and Captain William Mitchell) was before Northampton Court at the suit of the Reverend Thomas Teackle, rector of Hungar's Parish, for non-payment of minister's and church dues, having been formerly ordered by the vestry to pay them. The court sustained the vestry's order. On January 28, 1661/2, several delinquents in Hungar's Parish in the payment of minister's and other parish dues belonging to the church were brought before the court and "ordered that they make present payment of what shall be due by them from the year 1654, and the following persons, still owing dues to the minister and church in Hungar's Parish, were returned non est inventus, viz: Stephen Horsey, Ambrose Dixon, Alexander Draper, Robert Hart and William Smith. Certainly these items leave no uncertainty in the mind as to Horsey's stalwart non-conformity in relation to the Established Church and of his stout resistance in the matter of meeting the law's demand for his financial support thereof.
On Mar 30 1651, Stephen Horsey took the oath of allegiance to hereby engage and promise to be true and faithful to the Commonwealth of England as it is now established without King or House of Lords in Northampton Co, VA.
Through the last item quoted from the Northampton Court records we find Horsey's point of departure from Virginia for Maryland. We find that Stephen Horsey was returned non est inventus by the authorities in Northampton County, Virginia, January, 28, 1661/2, and also we find that on February 27, 1660/1, Stephen Horsey entered a survey for 1,000 acres of land on south side Annemessex River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. In this survey headrights were named as: Stephen Horsey, Sarah Horsey, his wife; Stephen Horsey, Junior, John Horsey, Abigail Horsey, Samuel Horsey and Mary Horsey (who were children of Stephen and Sarah Horsey), Michael Williams, Thomas Williams and Sarah Williams (who were children of Mrs. Sarah Horsey by her first husband, Michael Williams, deceased), John Roche (Roach), Benjamin Summer and Thomas Whitfield. The land for which this survey was entered by Stephen Horsey was patented to him September 3, 1663, by the name of "Coulbourne," the tract containing 650 acres. This plantation consisted of splendid, fertile river side lands and was located on the south side of the great Annemessex River, beginning at the mouth of Coulbourne's Creek and running in a northeasterly direction up the river, 250 poles to the mouth of Ipsewansey Creek. The plantation had this splendid frontage on the river and extended some distance inland to the heads of both Ipsewansey and Coulbourne's Creeks. It was to this location that Stephen Horsey moved with his family when he left Northampton County, Virginia, prior to January, 1661/2. So it was that Stephen Horsey, the rebellious and tumultuous nonconformist of Northampton County, Virginia, came with his family to Maryland and settled on the south side of the Annemessex River on the "Eastern Shore." We cannot give the exact date of his arrival at Annemessex (by which name the settlement in that locality came to be officially designated); but certainly he had left Northampton County by January 28, 1661/2, and we strongly suspect that he had taken up his abode on the Eastern Shore of Maryland sometime during the Autumn of the year 1661. This is as definite as we can be in relation to the time of Horsey's settlement at Annemessex. In the province of Maryland Stephen Horsey found that freedom which his seething non-conformist spirit craved; and becoming, as we believe, the actual first settler of the newly created territorial area of "the Eastern Shore below Choptank River"; his settlement formed the nucleus from which Somerset County developed. It was not long before Horsey was joined here by other men whose non-conformist spirit made them also persona non grata in Northampton County, Virginia. Ambrose Dixon, Thomas Price, Robert Hart, and Alexander Draper, if they did not in fact arrive at Annemessex at the same time that Horsey did, certainly followed him shortly. Almost from the beginning of the Annemessex settlement on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Stephen Horsey occupied a prominent position. On February 4, 1662/3, he was named a member of the commission of the peace for this area, continuing to hold this office until August, 1666, when that part of the area south of Nanticoke River and extending to the Maryland-Virginia boundary line was erected into the county of Somerset. In the commission of the peace, named in May, 1664, Horsey was named as first, thus given priority and the de facto chief magistracy in the settlement. During the trying times which overtook the Manokin-Annemessex settlement in the Fall of 1663, when Colonel Edmund Scarburgh tried with all his power to reduce the settlers to submission to the Virginia authorities and annex the area to Accomack County in Virginia, Stephen Horsey became a valiant leader in opposition to Scarburgh's scheme and has the honor of having been described by Scarburgh as an "ignorant yet insolent officer . . . that left ye lower parts (i.e. Northampton- Accomack in Virginia) to head Rebellion at Amanessicks (i. e. Annemessex on the Eastern Shore of Maryland)." Horsey's part in opposing Scarburgh's scheme and his accompanying invasion of Manokin-Annemessex, we have fully set forth in the early chapters of this book. When Somerset County was erected, August 22, 1666, Stephen Horsey was named as first in the commission of the peace and he was directed to administer the oath to the other commissioners named "afore they act as Justices for ye County." Horsey was commissioned, and qualified, as first High Sheriff of Somerset County, retaining the office from August, 1666, to June, 1668. He was also a deputy surveyor of the province of Somerset. In 1668 he again became a member of the court, and on June 30, 1668, signed the court orders as "Stephen Horsi, chiefe Judge of ye Court." Stephen Horsey and William Stevens were the first representatives, or burgesses, elected by the people of Somerset County to the General Assembly of Maryland (under writ of February 18, 1668/9), which met April 19, 1669. Owing to the fact that the people of Somerset, after the election, refused to send but one representative to the Assembly the selection went to William Stevens by an unauthorized action of the sheriff. This action of the sheriff later brought him a reprimand from the chancellor of the province and a fine from the Assembly. It appears, however, that Horsey had written to a member of the Assembly that he "was sick & could not attend." Nevertheless, it remains a fact that Stephen Horsey was duly elected to the Lower House of Assembly as a member of Somerset's first representation in that body, and his name was duly returned by order of the chancellor."
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 Powell (mark)
Stephen married Sarah Clarkson, daughter of Thomas? Clarkson and Unknown. (Sarah Clarkson was born about 1624 and died about 1671 in Somerset Co., MD.)