Extract from “The History of the Town and County of the Town of Galway From the Earliest Period to the Present Time“, 1820, By James Hardiman, Esc. (Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Sub-commissioner on the Public Records).
This old Galway family is of ancient and honourable English descent, and was allied to the Welch and British princes. Thomas Joyes, the first of the name that came to Ireland, sailed from Wales in the reign of Edward I, and arrived with this fleet at Thomond in Munster, where he married Onorah O’Brien, daughter of the chief of that district; from thence, putting to sea, he directed his course to the western part of Connaught, where he acquired considerable tracts of territory, which his posterity still inhabit. While on the voyage, his wife was delivered of a son, whom he named Mac Mara, son of the sea, he extended his father’s acquisitions, and from him descended the sept of the Joyces, a race of men remarkable for their extraordinary stature, who, for centuries past inhabited the mountainous district, in Iar Connaught, called from them, Duthaidh Sheodhoigh, or Joyce country, now forming the barony of Ross, in the County of Galway, and from which where formerly tributary to the O’Flaherties.38 Walter Jorse, Jorze or Joyce, brother of Thomas, Cardinal of Sabina, of this name and family, was Archbishop of Armagh, he resigned in 1311, and was succeeded by his brother Roland. The former was confessor to Edward II. and was author of several works.39 The families of Joyes-grove in the County of Galway, Oxford in Mayo, and Woodquay in the town of Galway, with that of Merview, near the town, are the present descendants of this old family.
Arms. Argent, an eagle displayed, with two necks, gules, over all Fess Ermine. Crest. A demi wolf-rampant, argent, ducally gorged, or.40 Motto, Mors aut honorabilis vita.
38 Mac Mara Joyes was first married to the daughter of O’Flathery, prince of Iar Connaught. The most remarkable of his descendants, besides the above, was William Joyes, who was married to Agnes Morris, being on his travels from Italy to Greece, he was taken prisoner by the Saracens, and brought to Africa, from whence, after a variety of adventures, and undergoing a captivity of seven years, he escaped to Spain; while here, his exalted virtues were rewarded by heaven according to the pedigree of the family, in an extraordinary manner; for, as they relate, an eagle flying over his head, pointed out to him a place, where he discovered vast treasures; with which returning to Galway, he contributed larges sums towards building the walls, church and other public edifices of the town. He dies, leaving three sons James, Henry and Robert, and was interred in the Franciscan friary.
Heaven was again propitious to another of this family; Margaret Joyes, great grand daughter of the above names William, who was surnamed, Margaret na Drehide, Margaret of the Bridges, from the great number which she built. The story of this singular woman is till current amongst her descendants. They relate she was born of reduced but genteel parents and was first married to Domingo de Roma, a wealthy Spanish merchant who traded to Galway, where, he fell in love with, and married her; and soon after departing for Spain, died there, leaving her mistress of an immense property. Upon his decease, having no issue by him, she married Oliver Oge Ffrench, who was Mayor of Galway in 1596. So far the narrative is probable and consistent but what follows will try the credulity of the reader. It relates that this lady, during the absence of her second husband, on a voyage, erected most part of the bridges of the Province of Connaught, at her own expense! and, that as she was one day sitting before the workmen, an eagle, flying over her head, let fall into her palm, a gold ring adorned with a brilliant stone, the nature of which no lapidary could ever discover. It was preserved by her descendants, as a most valuable relique in 1661 (the date of the MS. from which this account is taken,) as a mark supposed to have been sent from Heaven of its approbation of her good works and charity!! This fable though still piously believed, by some of this family, was humorously ridiculed by Latocaaye, an incredulous French traveller, who visited Galway about the end of the last century.
Cornet Joyes commanded the guard that conducted Charles I to the scaffold, but it does not appear that he was of this descent.
Several individuals of this name have long felt grateful to the memory of William III. from the following circumstance, on the accession of that monarch to the throne of England. One of the first acts of his reign was to send an ambassador to Algiers to demand the immediate release of all the British subjects detained there in slavery, the dey and council, intimidated, reluctantly complied with this demand. Among those released, was a young man of the name of Joyes, a native of Galway, who, fourteen years before, was captured on his passage to the West Indies, by an Algerine Corsair; on his arrival at Algiers, he was purchased by a wealthy Turk who followed the profession of a goldsmith, and who observing his slave, Joyes, to be tractable and ingenious, instructed him in his trade in which he speedily became an adept. The Moor, as soon as he heard of his release, offered him, in case he should remain, his only daughter in marriage, and with her, half his property, but all these, with other tempting and advantageous proposals, Joyes resolutely declined; on his return to Galway he married, and followed the business of a goldsmith with considerable success, and , having acquired a handsome independence, he was enabled to purchased the estate of Rahoon, (which lies about two miles west of the town,) from Colonel Whaley, one of Cromwell’s old officers. Joyes, having no son, bequeather his property to his three daughters, two of whom only were married, one, to Andrew Roe French, ancestor to the late Andrew French, of Rahoon, to whom, in addition to their own, the unmarried sister left her third; the second daughter was married to the ancestor of the late Martin Lynch, a banker, who, in her right, inherited the remainder of the estate. In gratitude for this act of King William, this family long after solemnised his accession to the throne by bonfires, and his victories in Ireland by exhibiting Orange lilies, on the 1st and 12th of July. Some of Joyes’ silver work, stamped with his mark, and the initial letters of his name, are still remaining. A very curious pedigree of this family, is recorded in the Office of Arms. Vol. 10.
39 Ware and De Burgo.
40 This is the crest on the map, that now used, is a Demi Griffin, sergeant.