• Joyce Heritage

Allied Families: Thomas Vernon and the Arrival of Alexander and Thomas Joyce

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

Among the most important relationships maintained by Alexander and Thomas Joyce was their friendship with Thomas Vernon. From the beginning, they all probably took the dangerous journey from Pennsylvania to 18th Century Louisa County, Virginia. This crucial fact and it's supporting documentation allows us to trace the early origins of the Joyce brothers in Virginia, shedding light on an age old mystery.


A Quaker from Pennsylvania, Thomas Vernon's adventure along the Great Wagon Trail Road is a story of sadness and hope. After being disowned by the Society of Friends, Thomas joined the southward bound Caldwell migration , which offered him a new chance at life. With the foreknowledge that John Caldwell, a Scots-Irish Elder, had received permission to settle on the Virginia frontier, he eagerly joined this venture. What awaited him; however, was not what he expected.



Arriving in Buck Mountain, Louisa County, Virginia, around December 18, 1740, with John Caldwell, Thomas Vernon lived a simple life. As a new settler, he did not own any land, but rather, probably lived as part of a Scots-Irish community. On March 14, 1742, he was ordered to help clear a road "above Buck Mountain Creek." However, five years later on Jan 1, 1745, Thomas Vernon had purchased, "501" acres of land in Brunswick County, Virginia.


Like Alexander Joyce, Thomas Joyce, and John Caldwell, Thomas Vernon was considered a religious dissenter, but in Brunswick County, he had found partial religious and political freedom. Still considered an untamed land, the Presbyterian, Cub Creek settlement was granted special privileges in exchange for living on the outskirts. Enticed by cheap land, and the ability to worship as they pleased, Thomas' Vernon's journey is reflective of the story of Alexander and Thomas Joyce.


Recent research has indicated that the Joyce brothers, in all likelihood, arrived with or about the same time as Thomas Vernon in Louisa County. Probably taking the same path from Pennsylvania as Thomas Vernon, the probable brother of Alexander and Thomas Joyce appears in 1743 as witness in a deed in Buck Mountain. On July 28, 1747, Thomas Joyce is recorded in court in Fredericksville Parish in Buck Mountain, and later on August 14, 1748, Alexander Joyce is in Buck Mountain as witness within the same neighborhood.


Despite these similarities, Thomas Vernon moves to Cub Creek three years before Alexander and Thomas Joyce, but by 1748 and 1753, they all appear in William Caldwell's Tithable list in Lunenburg County, Virginia. This bond even extended into matters of business. On December 3, 1765, Thomas Vernon sells Alexander land in Charlotte County, Virginia.


In genealogy, it is not often one finds such a helpful comparison. From faded writing, long-lost documents, to illegible writing, there are often roadblocks; however, sometimes you are fortunate. Because of the information available for Thomas Vernon in 18th Century Virginia, one can easily see why and possibly how the Joyces brothers arrived in the area. It is for this reason that new information on their origins is available.


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