John Henry Joyce

Aug 23rd, 1928 | By | Category: Joyce Biographies

John Henry JoyceJohn Henry JOYCE was born to convict parents Michael JOYCE and Mary KING at New Norfolk, Tasmania, on 20 August, 1853. His father Michael died when he was barely two years old on 19 October, 1855. On 21 July, 1856 his mother married her second husband, Michael BRENNAN and had two further children to him. I know nothing of his childhood nor do I know the fate of his mother, his stepfather or his step brothers or sisters. It seems that his childhood may not have been a happy one it his later treatment of his own children is any indication.

On 12 March,1877, John married Mary Anne CODY who was also a child of convict parents, Henry Hastaken CODY and Ellen SULLIVAN. Mary and John were married in the Congregational Church, Newtown, and lived at New Norfolk.

The Church was known as ‘Summerhome’ and situated at, 2 Hopkins Street, Moonah. Originally the New Town Academy owned by Robert GIBLIN and begun in 1833 as a school [1], it was acquired by Henry HOPKINS who extended it and named it ‘Summerhome’ because he and his family spent the summer there. In winter when the roads were impassable due to bad weather they lived in Hobart. “A considerable area of land went with ‘Summerhome’, and HOPKINS employed a married couple to run the farm, orchard and diary. His daughter laid out an intricate formal garden of flowerbeds surrounded by low hedges, seen in the photograph taken in the 1850’s and still existing. The bakery, greenhouse, flagged kitchen, and servant’s quarters are evidence of the comfortable little community HOPKINS created. Although his main business and philanthropic interests were in Hobart, he loved his New Town home and his presence there raised the level of the surrounding community, if only because in distress his poorer neighbours could be sure of assistance” [2].

John later owned a farm at Lower Turner’s Marsh, but I don’t know whether this is the same farm that he and Mary settled on when they first married. F.B.MANNING’s Tasmania Directory 1881-2 lists John JOYCE as a resident of Sorell Creek [3].
The land along Sorell Creek was steep and the first settlers in the Glenorchy area ignored it in favour of the rich flats along the Derwent River. By 1876, twenty people, including seven of European origin had taken up land along Sorell Creek. The Tasmanian government had appointed an Immigration Agent in Germany in 1869 and as a result many German families were encouraged to immigrate. Some of them took up cheap land along Sorell Creek. “For all it was a tough life. The land had good water and was certainly cheap, at five shillings an acre, but it was uncleared, and the road only went as far as Berriedale. From there, everyone had to struggle up a rough track, men, women and children carrying their possessions on their backs. They were faced with an area of virgin bush to clear and cultivate, with little other equipment than their bare hands and a few simple tools” [4].

The first school was built at a cost of 190 pounds by Emanuel BRANDSETER, over a period of five months in 1877. Many of the children of the area, especially the older boys, attended the school irregularly because they were required to assist on the family farms and if they lived more than three miles from school, only had to attend three days a week [5].
Times must have been hard for Mary left alone to raise her children. Jean ROUTLEY, daughter of Richard Steven JOYCE, and granddaughter of John Henry, writes ‑
‘Dad and his brothers and sisters went to Bismarck State School and Dad always said they had three miles to walk to school… I have two book prizes awarded to Dad at school, one date Xmas 1900 and one Xmas 1901. Dad said they used to have to miss quite a lot of schooling because they had to stay home and work on the farm and I think they left school quite early.’ [6]
Sorell Creek was proclaimed a Town in 1881, and renamed BISMARCK after the then Chancellor of Germany and probably in recognition of the many German immigrants who settled in the valley. In 1892 the area at the top of the hill immediately above Berriedale became known as Glen Lusk [7], and it was here that the JOYCE farm was located.

By 1899 the Assessment Roll shows that there were sixty families at Bismarck, seventeen at Glenlusk and six at Collins Gap.

“Nearly everyone lived by farming. There were cattle and some grain crops, but the main crop was fruit, particularly raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and strawberries. Vegetables were also grown, especially swedes, turnips, peas and potatoes. Many of these crops were difficult to pick, and the whole family would be put to work. The main problem was getting the crop to market in Hobart. Raspberries in particular deteriorate quickly, and after twelve miles by horse and cart, much of it over rough bush tracks, the fruit often arrived at the market in poor condition. Sometimes there would already be mould on the top, though the less scrupulous stirred this in to the mass of the fruit. The price was a penny a pound, so a great deal of hard work was necessary to make a profit [8].

According to Jean ROUTLEY, her Grandfather used to disappear for months at a time and only return to the farm when the harvest was ready to be sold. Jean says that the farm was eventually sold and Mary JOYCE took her son Richard (Dick) and two of her daughters Catherine and Florence to live in Launceston. This must have been in the last years of the 1890’s because my Grandfather Bill (William) was kicked out of home when he was about 13 years old in about 1898 and at that time it seems that John and Mary were still living together.

Jean ROUTLEY claims she only saw John Henry on one occasion. That was when as a small girl she was being walked to school in Launceston by her father. He pointed to a man on the other side of the street and said to Jean ‑

“See him. That’s old Jacky‑Jacky.”

Jean said her father would not cross the road to talk to him.

I don’t know where John Henry went during those long periods when he left his family alone. Allen GREEN (son of Catherine JOYCE and Alfred GREEN) reported that Eileen JOYCE, the famous pianist of the early 20th century may have been the illegitimate daughter of John Henry’s.

Jean ROUTLEY writes ‑

‘I remember Mary (she was my grandmother) coming to our house once in 1923, I was eight years old, and that was the year she died…In July that year she wanted to go to Melbourne to Uncle Bill…but was not well and had a very bad cold and everyone said she should wait until she was better. Anyway she insisted on going (in July and real winter weather) ended up with pneumonia and died in August. I don’t know the exact date. She did not go to Melbourne with John Henry as far as I know, they had lived apart for many years. After she died I don’t remember just when, we saw John Henry in Launceston one Sunday afternoon. Dad pointed him out to us and told us who he was but would not go and speak to him. Dad would not have anything to do with him. So that is how I know Mary went to Melbourne before John Henry did.’
Mary died in Melbourne in August, 1923 and is buried at Fawkner cemetery.
Old Giles was also in Melbourne at that time and at some stage became quite ill. It was then that he moved in with his son Bill and family in Merlynston. Times were hard, Bill was unable to have a proper job because of an injury received during the war. According to Norma WUNSCH, Bill’s daughter the family lived for a time off the pension of Kate DUNN, the mother of Bill’s wife Alice, who was also living with them for a time.
In 1927 John married Catherine LYONS at Coburg, but it wasn’t long before he sickened again and moved back in with Bill and Alice. A year later on 22 August, 1928, he died and was buried on the 23rd also at Fawkner Cemetery.
Bill attempted to have John Henry’s medical bills which he had paid, reimbursed out of the estate but this was challenged by other members of the family and the dispute was fought out in the Supreme Courts of Tasmania and Victoria. The matter was finally settled on 1 November, 1930, when Bill was reimbursed. Much of the remainder of the estate went to cover legal costs and what was left was divided one third to Catherine JOYCE nee LYONS and the other two thirds divided equally amongst the seven surviving children each of them receiving 14 pounds 13 shillings and 8 pence.
John Henry JOYCE married Mary Anne CODY, daughter of Henry Hastaken CODY and Ellen SULLIVAN, 12 Mar 1877, in Hobart, Tas. Born, 28 Feb 1853, in Hobart, Tas.

[1] ALEXANDER, Op cit p.357
[2] ALEXANDER, Op cit, p.32
[3] ALEXANDER, 1986, Frontispiece
[4] ALEXANDER, op cit, p.73
[5] ALEXANDER, 1986, op cit p.75
[6] ROUTLEY, Jean; letter to Laurie JOYCE 15/02/1989
[7] ALEXANDER, 1986, op cit p.77
[8] ALEXANDER, 1986 op cit, p.79

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