Horsey, Jerome (DNB00)

HORSEY, Sir JEROME (fl. 1573–1627), traveller, was son of William Horsey, who was probably brother of George Horsey of Digswell in Hertfordshire, and of Sir Edward Horsey [q. v.], governor of the Isle of Wight. In 1573 Jerome Horsey set out for Moscow as a clerk in the service of the Russian company. In 1576 Sylvester, the accredited English envoy in Russia, was disabled by a stroke of lightning; no successor was appointed, and when, in 1580, the Czar (Ivan-Vasilovitch) desired to purchase munitions of war in England, he selected Horsey to undertake the business, and sent him to England with ‘a message of honor, weight, and secraecie … to the Quens Majesty of England,’ ‘perceavinge’ (Horsey explains) ‘I had ateyned to the familliar phrase of his language the Pollish and Dutch tongs.’ A journey, at the time, on such a mission, across the continent was dangerous, and Horsey took elaborate precautions to conceal his despatches and his money. After many adventures he arrived in London by way of Hamburg, and was introduced by his kinsman, Sir Edward Horsey, to the queen, who made him one of her esquires of the body. Horsey also made the acquaintance of Walsingham, and was well received by the Russia Company. In 1581 he sailed to Russia with the necessary stores ‘in company of 13 talle shipps,’ beating off on the voyage a Danish fleet near the North Cape. The Czar Ivan died in 1584. The new czar, Feodor (crowned in June 1584), was under the influence of his ambitious brother-in-law, Prince Boris Fedorovitch, who was friendly to Horsey, but was hostile to Sir Jerome Bowes [q. v.] (the ambassador from England since 1583). Bowes and Horsey had no liking for each other, but Horsey contrived to get Bowes safely out of the country. In August 1585 he was sent to England by the czar, with official despatches addressed to Elizabeth, in which complaint was made of Bowes's conduct, of the company's method of trading, and of Elizabeth's treatment of the czar's previous messenger, Beckman. On the journey, in accordance with directions from his patron, Prince Boris, Horsey betrayed Maria, niece of the late czar and widow of the Duke of Holstein, into the hands of her enemies. The lady, who was taking refuge in Riga, was persuaded by Horsey to return to Russia, and was there imprisoned, with her daughter, in the nunnery of Troitza. ‘This pece of service’ (Horsey wrote) ‘was verie acceptable; whereof I much repent me.’ On his arrival in England Horsey was welcomed by Elizabeth, despite Bowes's unprincipled efforts to injure his credit. He collected lions, bulls, and dogs, and the like, to take back with him, and set out for Russia on 5 April 1586. He had been commissioned to procure in the czarina's behalf some woman skilled in the cure of barrenness, but mistaking his instructions he took out a midwife, and Elizabeth, who understood from him that the czarina was with child, gave him a suitable letter to deliver to her. The error ‘fell out to be verie dangerous’ to Horsey. But he soon regained the favour of Prince Boris and the czar, the latter of whom ‘semed glad of my return pochivated and made me merrie.’ In February 1587 he obtained ‘under the Emperiall seale a free privaledge granted unto the company … to trade and traficque thorrow all his dominions, free from payinge any manner of customs and tolls whatsoever upon their merchandise … in as ample and large a manner as I could devis and sett down myself. Never the like opteyned by any ambassodor hertofore, though thowsands expended to procure the like.’ But a party at court, headed by the chancellor Shalkalove, was opposed to the English company's monopoly, and quickly secured enough influence to imperil Horsey's position. He hastily returned to London in 1587. In November of that year Giles Fletcher [q. v.] was sent out to obtain a confirmation of Horsey's valuable charter.

At the end of 1587 and in 1588 and 1589 the Russia company brought charges amounting to fraud against Horsey before the council and Lord Burghley (see the articles in the App. to Bond's edition of the Travels, Hakluyt Soc.) Complaint was made of his arrogance and extravagance; he had traded, it was said, on his own account, and he had falsified his accounts with his employers. To the last charge he practically made no defence, and partially made up the deficiency. In 1587 Pecok had written from Moscow to Walsingham of Horsey: ‘His state is not good; he oweth that I knowe, to the merchaunts fower thowsande rubbells, and to other twoe thowsande rubbells; and of the goods and commodities brought over wyth him he hath lyttell lefte;’ and again, ‘I might troble your honorable eares with notes of his disorderlie behavior here, but I shold enter into a sea that hath no bottome.’ At the end of 1587 the company asserted that Horsey had absconded from England; he was certainly in Russia in 1588, but was in England again in 1589. In 1589 the company wrote to Burghley that a rumour had reached them that Horsey was to be employed again on diplomatic business with Russia, and they strongly deprecated such a course. In April 1590 he travelled once more to Russia by way of Cologne and Copenhagen. But on his arrival the czar refused him an audience, and he returned discomfited in October 1591.

For the next thirty years Horsey lived in Buckinghamshire. He was knighted in 1603, and on 19 June 1604 he was made one of the receivers of the king's lands for life. He was high sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1610. Horsey was long a member of parliament for Cornish boroughs. In that summoned for 19 Feb. 1592–3 he sat for Saltash; on 4 Oct. 1597 he was returned for Camelford; on 10 Oct. 1601 for Bossiney; again for Bossiney on 12 March 1603–4. In the parliament summoned for 5 April 1614 Horsey sat for Bossiney again, and on 13 Dec. 1620 he was returned for East Looe. He must have opposed the court, as on 8 June 1622 he was committed, with William Fiennes, Lord Saye [q. v.], for opposing the grant of a benevolence. He seems to have been living in 1627. Horsey married by license, dated 5 Jan. 1591–2, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Griffith Hampden of Hampden, Buckinghamshire. She died in 1607. He then married Isabella, daughter of Edward Brocket, late of Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire; the settlement for this marriage was dated 28 Oct. 1609. He is said to have married, in 1619, a third wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir John North, eldest son of Roger, second lord North [q. v.] It is clear that Horsey had at least one son living in 1621, and as this son was then old enough to have quarrelled with his father his mother must have been Sir Jerome's first wife.

Horsey wrote an account of the ‘Coronation of Feodore,’ which was printed in ‘Hakluyt's Voyages,’ i. 525–35. A summary, called ‘Extracts out of Sir Jerome Horsey's Observations in Seventeene Yeares Travels and Experience in Russia and other Countries adjoyning,’ &c., appeared in Purchas's ‘Pilgrimage,’ v. 972–92. Horsey's account of his Russian travels, which supplies interesting accounts of contemporary Russian politics and society, was edited in 1856 for the Hakluyt Society by E. A. Bond, from Harleian MS. 1813, together with Horsey's contribution to Hakluyt. Purchas states that Horsey wrote other accounts of his foreign experiences, but the manuscripts have not been traced.

[Bond's edition of the Travels of Horsey, with Introduction, Hakluyt Soc. 1856; Purchas's Pilgrimage, 1626, pp. 972–92; Hakluyt's Voyages, ed. 1811, i. 525–35; Lipscomb's Buckinghamshire; Chester's London Marriage Licenses; Return of Members of Parliament; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1591–4 pp. 30, 41, 122, 1603–10 p. 121, 1619–23 pp. 1, 237, 404–5, 415, 1625–6 p. 67, 1627–8 p. 488; Hamel's Engl. and Russia, p. 205, &c.]

W. A. J. A.