Joyce, George (DNB00)

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JOYCE, GEORGE (fl. 1647), officer in the parliamentary army, is said to have been originally a tailor in London (Wood, Fasti Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, ii. 141). He entered the army of the eastern association, appears to have served in Cromwell's regiment, and was in 1647 a cornet in the horse regiment of Sir Thomas Fairfax (Commons' Journals, v. 291). When the quarrel between the army and parliament broke out, Joyce, who had gained the confidence of the soldiers by his zeal in representing their grievances, was charged by the agitators with the task of seizing the magazine at Oxford, and securing the person of Charles I at Holmby House. On the morning of 3 June 1647 Joyce seized Holmby, and on the following day set out to convey the king to the headquarters of the army at Newmarket (Joyce's own account of his exploit is contained in A True Important Narration concerning the Army's Preservation of the King, reprinted in Rushworth, vi. 513; see also his letters, Clarke Papers, Camd. Soc, i. 118-20). Fairfax sent Colonel Whelley to deliver Charles from Joyce's hands, and to take command of the king's guard, and wished to bring Joyce to trial by a court-martial. But the officers and soldiers of the army in general approved of Joyce's conduct, and he was promised the command of the first troop which fell vacant (ib. Preface, p. xxxi). Joyce asserted that he had acted throughout under Cromwell's instructions, and the latter admitted that he had ordered Joyce to change the king's guards and prevent his removal from Holmby, though denying that he had authorised Joyce to take the king away. The statements which pamphleteers, inspired by Joyce, made concerning this question led to a serious breach between Joyce and Cromwell (Clarke Papers, i. xxvii; 'A True Narrative of the Causes of the late Lord-General Cromwell's Anger against Lieutenant Colonel George Joyce,' Harleian Miscellany, ed. Park, viii. 304). In November 1647 Joyce told Sir John Berkeley that the king ought to be brought to his trial, and a year later was active in promoting it ('Memoirs of Sir J. Berkeley,' Maseres, Select Tracts, i. 383). On 17 June 1650 the council of state appointed him governor of the Isle of Portland, and in August he was given a commission as lieutenant-colonel in the regiment to be raised by Colonel James Henne (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, pp. 206, 293). On 1 Oct. 1651 parliament voted that lands to the value of 100l. per annum should be settled on Joyce and his heirs. Joyce appears to have disapproved Cromwell's expulsion of the Long parliament, and in September 1653 he was imprisoned and cashiered for conspiracy (Cal. Clarendon Papers, ii. 254, 260). In the petition which he presented to the Long parliament after Cromwell's death, he asserts that a dispute between himself and Richard Cromwell, about the purchase of some crown lands in Hampshire, was the real cause of his prosecution (Harleian Miscellany, viii. 305; Commons' Journals, vii. 776). A pamphlet entitled 'Innocence Vindicated,' by John Rix, a lieutenant in Joyce's regiment, contradicts the story told in the petition. In the summer of 1659 Joyce was employed in the search for royalist conspirators, and one of the persons arrested by him afterwards published an account of 'the manner in which Joyce had beguiled him into his net' (The Loyal Blacksmith and no Jesuit; being a True Relation how William Houlbrook, blacksmith, of Marlborough, was Betrayed by Cornet George Joyce, 8vo, 1677; an earlier edition is dated 1663). When the Restoration came Joyce's guilt was deemed equal to that of the actual regicides, and he had to fly from England. It was even asserted by William Lilly that Joyce was the disguised person who beheaded the king, and his arrest was consequently ordered by parliament (7 June 1660; Kennett, Register, pp.173, 176; Life of Lilly, ed. 1822, p.202). He took refuge at Rotterdam, and lived there unmolested for ten years. In 1670, however, Sir William Temple received orders to demand his arrest; but though the magistrates of Rotterdam did not venture openly to refuse, they secretly connived at Joyce's escape (Ludlow, Memoirs, ed. 1751, p. 420; Temple, Works, ed. 1754, ii. 465). The date of Joyce's death is unknown.

[Authorities cited in the text.]

C. H. F.

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