• Joyce Heritage

The Early Years: Alexander Joyce (1718-1778) and the Church of England

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

Since the arrival of Alexander Joyce and Thomas Joyce (1722-1780) in Louisa County, Virginia, the Joyces have always had a complicated relationship with the English authorities. Born under the yoke of the Church of England in County Down, Ireland, they left for colonial Virginia for new opportunities. However, their lives in central Virginia would still be dominated by the British Government. Like her sister county, Hanover County, Louisa County was a center for religious dissenters. From Quakers, independent nonconformists, and Presbyterians, they all experienced political and religious persecution.


When Alexander Joyce first appears in Louisa County on August 15, 1748, he is not a landowner, but rather, is likely living as part of a Scots-Irish community. It is not known if he and Thomas were land squatters, but by May 10, 1748, he had moved to Lunenburg County, Virginia, as part of a Scots-Irish migration. Like his Scottish kin, he had to take an oath of allegiance to the King before he could worship at an approved Presbyterian meeting house. If they did not, they could be fined or jailed.


As part of the Scots-Irish, Cub Creek Settlement in Lunenburg County, he was given special privileges to worship as he pleased. Under the leadership of the Presbyterian Elder, John Caldwell, they still had to pay tithes to their local parish, but it was managed by the Caldwell family. Living on the southern most frontier, Alexander Joyce was no longer living in the more civilized County of Louisa, and had more freedoms. As a result, he and Thomas Joyce, both landowners, could now fully create a life for themselves and their families.


A person of influence in the County, Alexander Joyce was known as a major contributor to his community. From serving as a Presbyterian elder, lawyer, and surveyor, he was now participating in the local, Cumberland Parish. Free from persecution, he was now overseeing the building of roads in various parts of the County. From "the Bridge over Cub Creek" to "Alexander Joyces Road," he helped his community expand and grow.


By the time Alexander Joyce moved to North Carolina, he had achieved what he could not in Louisa County, Virginia. No longer bound by the strict policies of the authorities of central Virginia, he was free to claim his right to success. Despite his love-hate relationship with the Established Church of England, he successfully used the system to his advantage. Years later, as one travels this same road system in Lunenburg County, one can still see and feel how he laid a successful foundation for future generations.

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