The first notable member of the de Shurland family on the island was Adam de Shurland, it is recorded that in 1188 Adam de Shurland owned a mill with more than 1,000 acres of mixed land. It was mostly marsh with a small meadow, he also owned and let a number of cottages nearby.
The next important member of the de Shurland family was Sir Geoffrey de Shurland. Sir Geoffrey, in 1225, was created High Constable of Dover Castle and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, a position of considerable importance and rank in those days.
Robert de Shurland was next in line and was also created Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, like his father Sir Geoffrey, by Edward I when he came to the throne in 1272. Edward I took Robert de Shurland to Carlaverock in Scotland to fight in a battle and was so impressed by his gallantry and dash that he knighted him in the field with Sir Fulc de Peyforer of Borstal Hall, Minster and Sir John de Northwood of Northwood Manor, Minster.
Sir Robert de Shurland obtained the right to collect floatsam and jetsam from Sheppey’s shores when he was created Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, he was only allowed to collect any floating objects from what he could touch with his lance when mounted on his horse, the Grey Dolphin. This may be why his Tomb at Minster Abbey has a horses head coming out of the waves on it! Another reason for his tomb to be decorated with the horses head is from a local legend.
The local legend states that Sir Robert de Shurland had a terrible violent temper and after a monk refused to do as he was asked by Sir Robert he jumped down from his horse and murdered him with his trusty sword “TickleToby”. After a while Sir Robert realised how much trouble he would be in once the King heard about the murder and decided the only way to solve the problem was to see the King himself and gain a pardon. The King was currently moored at The Nore just off Sheerness due to bad weather so Sir Robert jumped onto Grey Dolphin and galloped to the beach, when he got there he swam to the Kings boat and gained permission to speak with him. Sir Robert gained his pardon and swam back to shore, once on land a witch approached him and informed him that the horse, which had just saved his life taking him to the King, would be the death of him. On hearing this Sir Robert jumped from the horses back and chopped the horses head off. After a year or two while walking along the same stretch of beach Sir Robert de Shurland came across the witch again, she cackled at him and vanished as he approached her, in a fit of violence he kicked out and cut his big toe, he had kicked the skull of his trusty horse and a sharp piece of bone had gone through his boot and into his toe. Sir Robert died of blood poisoning a few days later due to his toe becoming infected, thus fulfilling the witches curse.
Sir Robert de Shurland's only heir was his daughter Margaret who married Sir William de Cheney, they had one son, Robert de Cheney.