The Name that Binds

Feb 26th, 2014 | By | Category: Laurie's Blog

I have been investigating my family tree for around 30 years now and in that time have come up against frustrating dead ends, been ecstatic at some of the discoveries and found grains of truth in the most innocuous inherited verbal history.   Through all of that I have maintained a thirst for more knowledge about where I came from and who it was that contributed to my rich and varied family history  no known Kings or Queens, but convicts, miners, soldiers, rascals, shearers, brave women who raised dozens of children in horrific conditions, adventurers and those who were forced emigrants.  A tapestry of life and experiences that mirrors that of each and every one of you.

I was born a Joyce, as was my father, his father and at least two generations beyond that to my great great Grandfather Michael Joyce born in County Galway and sent in chains to Tasmania after stealing a sheep.   There he met and married another native of County Galway, a lass called Mary King, and they had one child John Henry Joyce.  Michael sadly died at the age of 26 of tuberculosis having survived the harsh winters of the famine and the treacherous 100 day plus sea voyage in chains.

I like to think that he would be proud to know that he has been one of the contributors to a large Australian born clan of Joyces who now also share blood with Irish from many other counties, English, Scots, Welsh, Croatians, Greek Cypriots, American, Hawaiian, Maori, German and many more.   His descendants have served in many different places and many different conflicts, Turkey, the middle East, France and Germany, in World War 1, Malaya and the Pacific in World War 2 and as recently as Afghanistan last year.   They have been soldiers and sailors, doctors and nurses, travelling salesman and tinkers, farmers, miners, musicians, restaurateurs, police officers, thieves and politicians, drunks and preachers, truck drivers and wharfies, teachers and scientists, in fact have engaged in almost the full range of human endeavour.  All from one small, illiterate, Roman Catholic convict who died too young.  Is that not an amazing story?

I said I was born a Joyce and I identify as a Joyce but what does that really mean.  There are around 25,000 Joyces on Linkedin, probably many more than that on Facebook, but we all share that name in common.  Does it mean we are all related by blood?   Of course not, but somewhere along that line of generations our own forbears adopted that name.  It may be that they inherited it from their own father, it could be a dreaded NPE (non paternal event) where Mum didnt know who Dad was, they may have been adopted, or living with Joyces and become a Joyce by choice, there are dozens of reasons.

From a family history point of view for all of those who have joined the Linkedin and Facebook groups all we can really say is that we share a name.   Some of us will certainly be related but we may never be in a position to determine the exact name of the common ancestor, nor where he was born, lived and died.  If we are lucky we will be able to narrow it down to a range of years in a particular place.  If you choose to go down the DNA route you may well be able to connect with people who share that time and place in their own ancestry.   But lets also remember one very important thing.

We are now forming part of that rich tapestry of Tribe Joyce history, and, our own stories, those of our parents and our Grandparents deserve to be told and preserved.   One day, sometime in your own families history yet to come, a little boy or girl will wonder where they came from, and they deserve to have chance to know.  I guarantee you that the curiosity and sense of adventure, the misadventure, misfortune or wonder of what may lie on the other side of the hill will continue to mould the lives of our own descendants.  You owe it to tell them that story.

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