by Paul McCotter

These two are actually quite distinct surnames that have become

completely mixed up with each other in Ireland. Joye was an

Anglo-Norman Christian name of uncertain origin while Joce was a

Christian name of two distinct origins, one French, the other Breton.

Many Irish Joyces have Galway origins, being descendants of the Joyce

‘clan’ who established themselves in Connemara during the thirteenth

century and who later formed a sept along Gaelic lines there. Their

territory was known as Joyces’ Country. Ironically these were originally

Joyes and their territory earlier known as Joyes’ Country. The other

region where Joyces are common today is County Cork. Here in the

thirteenth century we find both Joyes and Joces, but the evidence points

clearly to a Joce ancestry for the Joyces of east Cork.

Other ‘true’ Irish Joyces must be those of the Kilkenny/Wexford area,

whose sixteenth century ancestors styled themselves Josse. In the

thirteenth century there were Joyes in Dublin and these later spread to

Meath, yet strangely today most Irish Joys are found in County


This Surname History is reproduced with the kind permission of Irish

Roots Magazine in which it was first published as part of the feature

article, Anglo-Norman Surnames of Ireland (part 4), in issue 1, 1998.


Published by: Belgrave Publications

Year written: 1998

Copyright owned by: Belgrave Publications