Sir Edward Horsey was a rogue and a rebel, but a staunch supporter of the Crown. In short a great Elizabethan Islander!
Captain of the Isle of Wight from 1565, Horsey is a fascinating character of English history and a courtier involved in the intrigues of the Tudor Court. A conspirator in the Throckmorton Plot under the Catholic monarch Queen Mary I, he managed to escape the fate of other plotters and became an outlaw, exiled to France. Here he met Robert Dudley, later Earl of Leicester and the long time favourite of King Henry VIII's daughter Queen Elizabeth I. They appear to have formed a lifelong friendship.
He stayed abroad when Queen Elizabeth I came to the throne but this was probably because he'd become a spy. He returned to England to report on hostile naval activities and pirates, becoming a useful soldier for Her Majesty. Formally pardoned for his past, he supervised refurbishment of the defences of the Isle of Wight against the expected invasion, which eventually became the Spanish Armada, and was given a knighthood in 1577 to add to other titles and offices. An ambassador, courtier, MP and JP, he was also Keeper of Carisbrooke, Steward of Crown Lands on the Island and a Commissioner for Piracy.
He lived at Great Haseley Manor, Arreton with a Mrs Dowsabell Mills about whom Sir John Oglander wrote: "nothinge stopped theyr maryadge, but that he had a wife alive in Fraunce".
He is said to have introduced hares to the Island and enjoyed hunting and country pursuits until his death, apparently from a bout of plague, in 1583. His tomb is made of alabaster and marble, its canopy carrying the family crest.
A jewelled ceremonial sword should be placed in the scabbard on his tomb and a photograph of it is shown nearby. It is old and thought to have been an heirloom even when Sir Edward was alive, but its value currently prevents us leaving it on this magnificent memorial.