In recent years, the new research on Alexander Joyce (1719-1778) and Thomas Joyce (1722-1780) has been important as concerns their origins. For many years, it has been assumed they came from Galway, Ireland to 18th century Virginia. However, based on recent y-DNA and traditional genealogical evidence, their real birthplace has been revealed. On an equally importantly note, this discovery also led to the inspiration for a Joyce tartan.
In my youth, I always heard family stories that they immigrated from Ireland before arriving in Virginia and in North Carolina. These tales excited the soul, and sparked my interest in Joyce genealogy, but they were only stories until recently. It wasn't until the aid of genetic genealogy that answers would be found, and that the idea of a Joyce tartan was born.
Y-DNA evidence has proven that there are four distinct, closely related Joyce lineages: Alexander Joyce (1719-1778), Thomas Joyce (1722-1780), George Joyce (b. 1769), and George Joyce (b. abt. 1767). All four of them share a recent mutation (SNP) called R-Y7729 with two Joss y-DNA matches that have roots in Banff, Scotland. Based on the appearance of Alexander Joyce in Louisa County, Virginia, on August 15, 1748, the Joyce brothers had to arrive in Virginia early on.
Joyce, Thomas and Alexander (Personal) Tartan
While these facts do prove their lineage is actually Scottish, it isn't until you also examine the traditional genealogical evidence that one sees the whole picture. The sons of Thomas Joass (b. 1683) in Banff, Scotland, Alexander and Thomas were both born at Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland. With this new Scottish/Scots-Irish lineage made evident, the cultural identity of Alexander and Thomas Joyce descendants has changed. So much so, that a Joyce tartan design was commissioned and woven.
Accepted by the Scottish Register of Tartans, this official tartan attached to Alexander and Thomas Joyce represents not only themselves, but their descendants as well. Not only that, it also links their lineage back to their grandparents, William Joass and Beatrix Fraser, from Banff, Scotland. Now considered part of Scottish history by the Tartan authorities, Alexander and Thomas Joyce and their contributions have been formally recognized by the Scottish Government.
How you use this new information is up to you. Do you wear the Joyce, Thomas and Alexander (personal) tartan with pride? Does it change how you view your Joyce ancestral roots? or do you prefer to honor Alexander and Thomas through research? No matter what you choose, their true origins are no longer a mystery.