D'Oyley was a Parliamentarian who served in the New Model Army in Wiltshire and in Ireland. In 1654 he sailed to the West Indies as a lieutenant-colonel in General Robert Venables' regiment. Venables had been ordered to the West Indies to advance the Parliamentarian cause and to repel Spanish advances. Once there, Venables raised a local regiment and appointed D'Oyley as its colonel.
After the death of Major-General Richard Fortescue, D'Oyley was elected commander-in-chief of all the Jamaican forces. Although temporarily displaced by the Cromwellian protegés Robert Sedgwick and William Brayne, command of the Jamaican forces ultimately devolved completely upon D'Oyley in September 1657.
As military commander he successfully beat off Spanish attempts to take control of the Caribbean in 1657 and 1658. At the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, King Charles II confirmed him in his position as the first Governor of Jamaica, a position he held until 1662, when he was replaced by the Royalist Thomas Hickman-Windsor, 1st Earl of Plymouth.
A lot of D'Oyley's time was taken up fighting the Maroons in the mountainous interior of Jamaica. These Maroons were runaway slaves who secured their freedom from their Spanish masters when the English took the island. In about 1660, he persuaded the leader of one of the Maroon bands, Juan de Bolas, to switch sides and join the English. However, D'Oyley was unable to persuade Juan de Serras, the leader of the Karmahaly Maroons, to follow suit, and this group of Maroons continue to fight against the English.
- Luscombe, Stephen. "Jamaica Colony: Edward D'Oyley". www.britishempire.co.uk. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- "D'Oyley, Edward (1617-1675), founder of English Jamaica". American National Biography. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001/anb-9780198606697-e-0101175.
- Mavis Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica 1655-1796: a History of Resistance, Collaboration & Betrayal (Massachusetts: Bergin & Garvey, 1988), pp. 17-20.
- C.V. Black, History of Jamaica (London: Collins, 1975), p. 54.
- Campbell, The Maroons of Jamaica, pp. 25-27.