Pioneers of Colonial Virginia




From the beginning, the history of the Colony of Virginia was influenced by all sorts of pioneers. From Scots-Irish Presbyterians, French Huguenots, Germans, and Quakers who struggled to establish religious tolerance to wealthy settlers who helped fuel the economy, everyone played a role. For better or worse, humanity was forever shaped by the achievements and downfalls of less well-known pioneers.

Describing everyday life in Colonial Virginia, this book uncovers several aspects of society. Portraying the efforts of the landed gentry who purchased vast amounts of land, the stories of Charles Chiswell and Nicholas Meriwether are explained in detail. Closely related to their mission to expand the economy, politicians like Sir Francis Wyatt and William Witcher's goal was to serve their community.

However, not all of the individuals documented in this work were part of the establishment. For Thomas Joyce and Thomas Stanley, they lived in a world dominated by the church-state government of the Church of England. Refusing to attend worship services within this denomination, they persisted in following their own faith, regardless of the risks. Even Michael Kelly, an Irish immigrant, struggled with this issue, but unlike Thomas Joyce and Thomas Stanley, he served in the American Revolution to fight for this cause.

The Queen of Pamunkey, a Native American Queen, is also discussed. Inheriting an unfortunate political situation, she watched as her people's lands were being taken away. But thanks to her skillful cunning she managed to regain and keep some of what her tribe had lost.

Virginia as we know it today was shaped by these brave pioneers. For some, they held supreme power and influence, while others had to struggle every day. Nevertheless, their actions have permanently made Virginia what it is today.

"The author provides a broad view of Colonial America, by presenting a good cross-section of early individuals in 18th century America. For me many history books can be too dry, but in this case I particularly enjoyed the combination of the personal side of their lives, along with the factual information provided."




"In reading about the trials and accomplishments of the Pioneers of Colonial Virginia, I have a deeper appreciation for their struggles to become successful in their endeavors. The author has presented the facts in a way that gives you a personal connection with the early pioneers. I highly recommend this book for all people who love history and genealogy. I hope to see more books written by this author."



"I have just finished reading Pioneers of Colonial Virginia. The book was a quick read packed full of interesting facts. It was well written and well researched as well. It not only introduce the reader to the male pioneers but also some women as well. There were English, Scottish, Irish, Scot-Irish and Native Americans discussed. I enjoyed learning about some of the pioneers and seeing how much they relate to members of my own family. Thank you Mr Joyce for the work you put into all of the research for this book."


-Donna Thompson

"History is full of famous people who made huge differences in the times during which they lived but few tell the stories of average folk whose everyday lives also contribute to the fabric of American life. Incredibly detailed historical and genealogical research provide the backbone of these vignettes into the lives of early settlers in Virginia and North Carolina. An interesting and compelling read."

-Patricia  A Iwanik

"A wonderful little book that documents a number of pioneers to early Virginia prior to the American Revolutionary War. The stories are very well researched and documented and even contains some genealogical information that can be very helpful to those researching the families covered in this history. This history sheds light on those who came to early Virginia all the while explaining from where they came and why they left their homelands to come to America. The format of the book is an easy to read and follow. The footnote format is especially helpful. I highly recommend Pioneers of Colonial Virginia by David C. Joyce."


Annals of our Forebearers

On November 6, 1777, Alexander Joyce, a Scots-Irish pioneer, writes to his children as he nears his death. By now, he is living in Guilford County, North Carolina, and realizes that his family knows little about his childhood in Ireland. From his experience of immigrating to colonial Virginia because of political persecution, religious persecution, and famine to his achievements in the New World, he has much to tell. And through the accounts of these documented, semi-fictional letters, one gains insight into life in eighteenth-century Virginia, North Carolina, and County Down, Ireland.

“David Joyce’s latest book gives a sprightly look at the Colonial history of one family, delivered with the immediacy of a letter from home.  As a matter of fact, his book is a slightly fictionalized collection of family letters, written by various members of the family from various places and times.  Imagine you have discovered a trunk in the attic.  Having gotten it open and cleared away the dust and cobwebs, you have made yourself comfortable and are delving into a glimpse of the family story that you had never known.”


-Editor, Journal of the Genealogical Society of Rockingham and Stokes Counties, North Carolina



 “Well done, Besides the historical backdrop, the poignant family stories bring early existence in the colonies to life.  The back and forth of a family desperately wanting to rally around their history and story, makes for interesting reading.”


-Former President of the Barrow Family Association of America


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