Colonial Family of the Week: The Joyces of Virginia and North Carolina
Whenever one thinks about the surname Joyce, most people typically come to the conclusion that all Joyces come from around Galway, Ireland. However, due to recent genetic y-DNA research, this misconception has been broken. For the descendants of Alexander Joyce (1719-1778) and Thomas Joyce (1722-1780), this y-DNA research has shown that these two brothers were of Scots-Irish origins. Born in Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland they eventually settled in colonial Virginia and North Carolina. Today thousands of Joyce descendants from these two brothers now live across the world. But what kind of people were Alexander and Joyce, and is their story representative of a larger truth?
As described in the historical non-fiction/fiction novel, Annals of our Forebearers, they became known as important members of their communities. From farming, helping establish religious tolerance (now religious freedom), building and clearing roads, to becoming involved in colonial politics. They represent the everyday man in the eighteenth-century, and how they could make a new life for their families. Indeed, the story of Thomas and Alexander is not only about the Scots-Irish, but about the men and women who helped build America. Beginning around 1743 when they first arrived in Louisa County, Virginia, little did they know how their life would represent the birth of a nation.
The grandsons of Laird William Joass and Beatrix Fraser of Banff, Scotland, their father, Thomas, moved to County Down for better opportunities. But, like many Scots who settled in the Ulster-plantation, their dreams would eventually become smashed by famine and religious and political persecution. But if not for the courage of Thomas and Alexander Joyce to immigrate to the colonies, the future influence of this Joyce family in VA and NC would not be seen today.