Margaret Joyce – from Cashel to Romford

I became interested in Margaret Joyce and her family initially because of their link to the Smiths via the Uptons of Cashel, County Tipperary.

The Joyce family is linked to the Uptons in this way: The second daughter of William Bayly Upton and his wife Margaret McClure was named Rebecca, who was born in or around 1809. She was the second youngest in the family, I believe.

In 1830, Rebecca Upton was married to Terence McGrath  (also written as Magrath). They had seven children, including two daughters: Rebecca and Margaret. These children were first cousins of Eliza Upton who married Lancelot Smith.

Rebecca Upton Magrath was named as one of two women who inherited the real property of her father William Bayly Upton in Cashel when he died in 1863. According to the will, Rebecca’s inheritance from her father was tied so that, when she died, her own daughters Rebecca and Margaret were to inherit. (The other heir to the Upton property was Rebecca’s older sister Prudence who married Robert Charters. Her inheritance was similarly tied to the next generation, Ellen Charters.)

Rebecca Magrath died in December 1875 and probate for her will was granted in October 1877 to her sole legatee: her daughter Margaret  – by then called “Margaret Joyce, wife of John Joyce”. From this I assume that Margaret’s sister Rebecca had already died and had left no children. Usually in those days, probate was granted in much less time than 22 months so there may have been some question about who was to inherit. Possibly it was related to Margaret’s very recent marriage and consequent change of name.

Margaret Joyce was one of William Bayly Upton’s grandchildren and, therefore, one of Eliza (Upton) Smith’s many cousins. I have no information so far on what happened to the ownership of the houses and other real property that Margaret inherited in 1877. Since she probably did not live in Cashel after her marriage, I wonder if the property was simply sold off. Collecting rents from afar would have been difficult although she could have appointed an agent.

Margaret Joyce had a very unusual middle name: Affra (also written as Aphra). I have no idea what the origin of that name was. Happily, with an unusual name like that, it has been a bit easier to trace her in Irish records and to distinguish her from all the many other Margaret Magraths. (There was a second married couple around the same time period called John Joyce and Margaret Magrath which has made it a bit difficult.)

I have found that Margaret Affra Magrath and John Evans Joyce were married in 1877 in Dublin. John was born in County Galway around 1848 and was a Clerk of Petty Sessions. Judging from the birth places of their children – Tipperary, Kerry, Carlow, Leitrim and Roscommon – he and his family moved around the country quite a lot. Their children were:

Theobald Upton Joyce, born 1878
Emily May Joyce, born around 1883
John Ulick Joyce, born 1885
Affra Margaret Joyce, born around 1886
Charles William Joyce, born 1887
Walter E. Penefather Joyce, born around 1888

Given the date gap between the first two children, it is probable there was at least one other child born in the family but I have no firm information on their names or whether they died young. It is possible there was a daughter Ephemie Elizabeth, born in Limerick in 1879.

The Joyce children were second cousins of my grandfather William Smith of Blackhall.

The following chart is a very abbreviated version of the family showing the connections between the Joyce family, William Bayly Upton and the Smiths.

The name of the eldest son Theobald Upton Joyce is interesting in two ways. The name Theobald is unusual and makes it more likely one can find him in later records (more on that in a while). Also, the inclusion of the name Upton as his middle name is helpful in ensuring I have the right family. Joyce is a common surname, especially in western Ireland.

The youngest son Walter also had an interesting name. Other records show his full name as Walter Evans Penefather Joyce.

The Joyce family can be found in Wexford in the 1901 Irish census which shows the parents with their five younger children. Irish censuses are always useful when it comes to information about religious affiliations. John Evans Joyce and his children were listed as Church of Ireland (i.e., Anglican) whereas Margaret Affra Joyce was Methodist. I could not find the eldest son Theobald in the Irish census in 1901 (an explanation for this emerged later).

None of the Joyce family is listed in the 1911 Irish census. In looking elsewhere for Theobald Upton Joyce, I was interested to find him in the 1911 English census, living in Liverpool with his mother Margaret, a widow, and his two sisters: Emily and Aphra. Therefore, it seems that Margaret’s husband John Evans Joyce died between the two census years. I have not been able to find a death date or death place for him in Ireland or England. In the 1911 English census, Theobald’s occupation is given as a Pensioner, South African Constabulary. So that suggests he was probably in South Africa in 1901.

In another document I found references to the fact that Theobald was “invalided from the South African Police at the end of the Boer War” and, in 1915, was “serving on the staff of the Royal Naval Ordnance, Portsmouth”. Theobald served in the Devon Regiment from November 1914 until December 1916. From at least 1911, Theobald’s three younger brothers were serving in various capacities in the Royal Marines. His brother Charles served in the Royal Marine Artillery and his brother Walter fought in the Dardanelles with the Portsmouth Battalion Royal Marine Brigade during the First World War. Both brothers survived the war.

Theobald’s third brother John Ulick Joyce was less fortunate. He was a corporal in the Royal Marine Light Infantry and was killed in the devastating explosion on board HMS “Bulwark” at Sheerness in December 1914 that killed hundreds of men. He was 29 years old and had been married for only two years to Josephine Corish in County Wexford. Their son Raymond U. Joyce was born in Hampshire in late 1914, maybe only a couple of weeks or months before John was killed.

Looking for information on the two Joyce sisters has been much more difficult. I believe that Affra Margaret Joyce died in Poplar, London in 1913 but I do not have any information on her older sister Emily May (Mary) Joyce after 1911. It is possible she married but, since I don’t have her married name, I cannot search for information on her later life.

From other searches, I have concluded that the three surviving Joyce brothers had close links with the British Royal Navy and Theobald in particular continued to be employed in some capacity by the Royal Navy in the Portsmouth area for many years. According to English electoral registers, between 1915 and 1926 Theobald lived in Gosport, Hampshire, with his mother Margaret and – at various dates – with his brothers Charles and Walter. I lost track of him after 1926 until 1931, when he appears again on the electoral register but this time living in Macclesfield, Cheshire, with his mother Margaret.

In what seems like a major life change, Theobald was married in 1935 to Florence E. Day in Romford, Essex. I can only assume that his work with the Royal Navy had required him to move to that part of England although by then he was about 56 years old. In 1936, Theobald’s mother Margaret Joyce died in Romford aged 86.

In the 1939 Register, Theobald and Florence were living in Ilford, Essex.  By this time Theobald was a retired Royal Naval Ordnance Clerk. Theobald died in Ilford in early 1960. His age of death is given as 79 although I think he was actually 81.

Theobald’s brother Walter E. P. Joyce died in 1951 in Gosport, Hampshire, at the age of 62. I have no other details of his life after the First World War.

An interesting family, all born in Ireland but living in England from the early 1900s. Their move to England happened long before the 1917 Easter Rising and all of the chaos that followed up to and beyond the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and the civil war. I wonder if they kept in contact with any of their Irish relatives and if Margaret Joyce continued to own any property in Cashel.

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