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  • Clan Joyce of Ulster

Introduction to the Joyces of Ballydugan, County Armagh

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

Located in County Armagh, Ireland lays the heartland of the Ulster-Scot Joyces. Beginning around the year 1750 with Samuel Joyce, the founder of the sept of the Joyces of Ballydugan, County Armagh, this location is historically important to Clan Joyce of Ulster. Considered a sub-sept of the Joyces of Ballynahinich, County Down, Samuel Joyce was the son of George Joyce (b. 1721) of Ballynahinich. While the other siblings of George Joyce all emigrated to colonial Virginia around 1740, George stayed behind. Today the descendants of this sept still reside in Ulster.

First documented in 1774, he married Jane Walker in the nearby townland of Dromore, County Down. They had four known children: Pierce Joyce (1783-1863), James Joyce (1838-1911), George Joyce (d. 1857), and Samuel Joyce. And similar to their Joyce cousins, the Joyces of Ballydonaghy, County Armagh, they persisted through some of Ireland's most pivotal moments. For Samuel Joyce, he was born abt. 10 years after the Year of the Slaughter in which severe cold and famine destroyed the potato crop and froze ports like Belfast Harbor. And within the following two generations, the children and grandchildren of Samuel persisted through the Irish potato famine, another as equally devastating event. With both the famine of 1740-1741 and the famine from 1845-1849, a majority of the population of Ireland perished, leaving the country in an economic slump.

Newsmills Presbyterian Church, County Armagh

The church where the descendants of Samuel Joyce (b.1750) attended Church

However, during the mid-to-late 1800's the descendants of Samuel had emigrated to Canada, New York, and New Zealand for better opportunities. Beginning in 1859 with Rachel Nee Joyce and David Wilson who arrived in Canterbury, New Zealand, her cousins would soon follow. As a consequence of this history, the Joyces of Ballydugan, Armagh and Ballynahinch, County Down have a large presence across the world. Despite their reservations about leaving behind their ancestral homeland of Ireland, if not for their courage, the history of CJU would now be completely different.

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