The immigration experience of the Presbyterians in colonial Virginia was an oppressive time for the Scotsmen from Northern Ireland. Subject to the penalties imposed on them by the Established Church of England, their presence in Virginia, especially, in Hanover and Louisa County was tenuous. Formed from New Kent County, Virginia, in 1721, Hanover County had a religious majority of members from the Church of England.1 However, by 1717, a migration from Pennsylvania of mainly Scottish, Presbyterians had begun to enter central Virginia. 2 By 1748, Alexander Joyce, who is the subject of this blog post, first appears in Louisa County. 3
Living in a modestly well-off neighborhood, Alexander is recorded as being associated with John Hackett, John Thomason, and John Henry. All active members of the Church of England, two were recorded in the Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish in Hanover County, and two were part of the parish in Louisa County. 4 Alexander Joyce, however, was never recorded in ether parish. It is difficult to prove the Scottish, Presbyterian origins of a settler, especially, when the only evidence is the lack of attendance within the local Anglican parish, but in our case Alexander Joyce’s Scottish roots can be confirmed through y-DNA, and his participation within the Presbyterian community of Lunenburg County, Virginia. 5
The church and state were one entity in 18th century Virginia, and all Protestant dissenters from the Established Church were required to pay tithes to their local parish. 6 If they did not, their tithes were taxed. Those Presbyterians who refused to worship as part of the Church of England, as was also required, met in secret. At the risk of being considered outcasts, men and women like Alexander would meet in “reading houses” in private. 7
Alexander Joyce’s place in polite society in Louisa County is unknown, but, what can be concluded is that his neighbors in Louisa County held different political and religious viewpoints. Part 3 of Researching the Scots-Irish of 18th Century Virginia will further examine this controversial relationship and will focus more in detail on how the Scots-Irish and Presbyterian Church expanded into the Virginia frontier.
The Virginia Genealogist
1. Library of Virginia, Formation of Virginia Counties Chart (Richmond, Virginia : Library of Virginia
2. Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (1944; reprint, Baltimore, Maryland : Genealogical Publishing Co, inc, 2002), 28.
3. Louisa County, Virginia,” Louisa County, Virginia, Deed Book A and B, 1742-1759”, part 2: p. 326, Thomas Hackett to George Clark entry, 15 August 1748; Library of Virginia microfilm 1.
4. C. G. Chamberlayne, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, Virginia, 1706-1786 (1940 ; reprint, Richmond, Virginia : Virginia State Library and Archives, 1989), John Henry, 151-163, 166-167, 169- 170, 172, 176- 178, 179-182, 185- 187, 190-191, 195-197, 200-202, 205, 311, 329, 148; John Thomason, 97, 165, 300, 310, 353-354, 361, 388, 421, 456, 459, 487, 551, 556; Virginia Genealogical Society, Louisa County Road Orders (1742-1748) (Richmond, Virginia : Virginia Genealogical Society, 2003), John Hackett, 5; John Thomason, 5, 23.
5. Lunenburg County, Virginia, “Lunenburg County, Virginia, Deed Book 1 & 2, 1746-1752”, part 1: p. 369-370, Alexander Spalding and John Lidderdale to Alexander Joyce entry, May 10 1748; Library of Virginia microfilm 1; Family Tree DNA, database (http://www.familytreedna.com : accessed August 15 2016), “Comparative y-DNA results” for users David Joyce and Daniel Joss” matching 67-markers; National Maritime Museum, “Masters and Mates Certificates, 1850-1927,” database, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed August 15 2016), entry for Walter Joss, 22 March 1806, Aberdeen, Scotland; citing Master’s Certificate of Service, license no. 41.790.
6. Robert P. Davis, James H. Smylie, Dean K. Thompson, Ernest Trice Thompson, William Newton Todd, Virginia Presbyterians in American Life : Hanover Presbytery (1755-1980) (Richmond, Virginia : Hanover Presbytery, 1982), 5.
7. Robert P. Davis, James H. Smylie, Dean K. Thompson, Ernest Trice Thompson, William Newton Todd, Virginia Presbyterians in American Life : Hanover Presbytery (1755-1980) (Richmond, Virginia : Hanover Presbytery, 1982), 19.