Select Joyce Miscellany

Here are some Joyce stories and accounts over the years:

Thomas de Jorse and the Joyce Sept

Thomas de Jorse (or Joyes) was one of three Norman brothers who had settled in Wales and allied himself with the Welsh cause.   Some have him coming originally from a Norman de Jorz family in Nottinghamshire.  The village of Burton Joyce (formerly Burtine Jorz) was home to this de Jorz family from 1160 for about two hundred years. Geoffrey de Jorz was the keeper of Sherwood Forest around the year 1200.

When Edward I invaded Wales, Thomas was forced to flee the country.  He came to Ireland with his ships in 1283 and landed at Thurmond in Munster.  There he married Turlough O'Brien, the daughter of the local chief.  While on their voyage around Ireland, his wife gave birth to a son which he named MacMara, son of the sea.  

The family eventually landed in the western part of Connacht where Thomas acquired considerable tracts of land. Their son, later known as Edmond Joyes, who also married the daughter of a local chief, extended his father's acquisitions and, as the family numbers grew, led the basis for the Joyce sept in the region.

The sept, known in Gaelic as Seoighe and sounding like "Joyce," followed Irish practices, with their chieftain being selected from among the derbfine (the direct male descendants in the sept).

The Escapades of William Joyes

The story goes that William Joyes, a descendant of Edmond Joyes, married Agnes Morris and then set off on his travels to Italy and Greece.  However, he was taken prisoner by the Saracens and brought to Africa, from whence, after a variety of adventures and after undergoing a captivity of seven years, he escaped to Spain.

While in Spain, his exalted virtues were rewarded by heaven according to the pedigree of the family in an extraordinary manner.  As the story is told, an eagle flying over his head pointed out to him a place where he discovered vast treasures.     

When he returned to Galway, he contributed large sums towards building the walls and to the church and to other public edifices in the town.  He died leaving three sons, James, Henry and Robert, and was interred in the Franciscan friary.

The Claddagh Ring

The earliest examples of Claddagh rings that can be dated are stamped with RI, the mark of Richard Joyce, a goldsmith who worked in the small fishing village of Claddagh in Galway from 1690 to the 1730's.  The ring worn on the right hand, crown turned inward tells that your heart is yet unoccupied; worn with the crown turned outwards reveals that love is being considered.  Worn on the left hand the crown turned outward shows all, your heart is truly spoken for.  

After Joyce stopped producing the rings, interest lay dormant for a while until their production was revived by a later generation of Galway goldsmiths and jewellers.  The early versions, until around 1840, was by cuttle-bone mould casting and then by the cire perdue or "lost wax" process.  

There are two stories about the origin of the Claddagh ring.

The first story says that a Margaret Joyce married Domingo de Rona, a wealthy Spanish merchant who traded with Galway.  They proceeded to Spain where he died, leaving her a considerable fortune.  Returning to Galway she used her fortune to build bridges from Galway to Sligo.  She remarried Oliver Og French, the mayor of Galway.  She was rewarded for her good works and charity by an eagle who dropped the original Claddagh ring into her lap.

The second story is that a Richard Joyce of Galway was captured by Algerian corsairs, sold to a Moorish goldsmith who trained him in the craft.  In 1689 he was released from slavery.  The Moor offered him his only daughter in marriage and half his wealth if he would remain in Algiers.  But Joyce declined and returned home.   He brought with him the idea of the Claddagh ring. 

Early Joyces in Dorset

In Volume IV of The County Historian for Dorset by Hutchins, early Joyces in Dorset are recorded as follows:

"The Joyces though possessed of no considerable estate were one of the most ancient families in the county.  They were foresters in the forest of Gillingham as early as the reign of Henry III and seem afterwards to have been seated at Marnhull.  They occur there at about the time of the Dissolution."

H.S. Joyce and His Recollections

Henry Stanley Joyce was a writer on fishing and the countryside in the 1930's and 1940's.  He grew up in Shapwick, Dorset where his family had lived for generations.  By that time the family mill had fallen into disuse but the bakery at the back of the mill was still being used. 

He had this to say about his family history:

"The shamrock was shown to us as the emblem of Ireland, from which country we were said to have originated many ages earlier.  The family tradition was that we were directly descended from the ruling clan in west Ireland and that we had come to England with the ancestors of our own landlord and that we had assisted one of his ancestors in a historic siege against the Roundheads.  I have always preferred to let this remain as a pleasant family romance rather than make any attempt to verify it and probably destroy the illusion."

The Joyce Clockmakers of Shropshire

The Joyce clockmakers of Shropshire came from the village of Cockshutt near Wrexham and were originally farmers, landowners and proprietors of the local pub, The Golden Lion.  The family has been traced back in Cockshutt to John Joyce in late Elizabethan times. 

William Joyce moved from Cockshutt to Wrexham and became the churchwarden there at St. Giles.  His duties entailed the winding and maintaining of the church clock.  The church records of 1718 showed him paid the princely sum of two pounds eight shillings for work on the clock.  In 1723, when his uncle Arthur the owner of the Golden Lion died, William Joyce returned to Cockshutt.  

It is thought that William Joyce began making grandfather clocks around the year 1690.  His business developed as a flourishing family concern, handed down through the generations from fathers to sons.  In 1780, Williamís grandson James moved the firm from Cockshutt to new premises at 40 High Street, Whitchurch.  This building with its cast iron frontage stood opposite the present-day Civic Centre. 

In 1849 the company, known as JB Joyce & Co, copied the Big Ben escapement designed by Lord Grimthorpe and made large clocks for many public buildings and for some of the principal railway companies.  Since 1945 the company has installed over 2,000 large public clocks, a high proportion of them being installed in churches.  In 1964 Norman Joyce, the last member of the Joyce family, retired and sold the company to the Smith of Derby Group.  J&B Joyce & Co. laid claim to be the oldest independent clockmaking company in the world.

James Joyce in San Francisco

Apart from the Spanish-Mexicans, one of the first settlers at San Francisco was James Joyce, a man of much enterprise who as a contractor did much to develop certain sections of the early city. 

As a young man he had moved with his family to county Mayo in Ireland where he met and married Mary Noland.  He was then just thirteen years of age.  A year later, in 1847, they sailed from Liverpool to San Francisco.  The voyage took more than nine months and their first child, James, was born en route.  Many times during the voyage those on board gave themselves up as lost.  The provisions had actually ran out before the ship eventually landed.  

Joyce was a carpenter by trade.  From Liverpool he had brought with him two frame buildings which he set up at Monterey in California.  He soon afterward entered the sand grading business and he was the contractor who filled in what is now Kearney and Market streets in San Francisco.  His equipment consisted of a large number of the Missouri mules and the Union-forever wagons and he employed a large force of men (paying them in fifty-dollar gold slugs). 

He and his family lived in a little wooden shack on the water front.  Joyce lived in San Francisco overall for about fifteen years.  When he died he left considerable stock and money and property on the water front to his widow.

The Joyce Homestead on Quadra Island

The property at the south end of Quadra island, British Columbia was settled in 1889 by Alfred and Anna Joyce.  The Joyces set about clearing of much of the 140 acres of the claim.  They originally built a log home.  This was replaced in 1905 by the two storey frame house which still remains. 

Maple Bank, as the Joyces called their place, was to prove a successful family farm by Quadra standards. They kept beef and dairy cattle, sheep and poultry, and grew vegetables, flowers and fruit.  Anna was an avid gardener who received letters asking for cuttings, seeds and advice about horticulture indicating that she ran a bit of a nursery.  The rose gardens were in fact her special pride.

After Alfred died in 1927, Anna (Granny Joyce) continued to run Maple Bank farm for another twenty five years until her death at the age of eighty seven in 1954.  She founded the Women's Institute on the island and taught her own seven children before there was a school.  


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