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Irish Surname - Joyce

The Joyce surname is believed to have two possible origins. It may have come from a Norman family named Jorse (or Joyes) whose name derived from the Breton personal name Iodac, a diminutive of iudh, meaning 'lord'. A number of English surnames arose from this Norman original, including Joce, Joass, and Joyce, the latter being far more frequent in Ireland than anywhere else.

Secondly, the name may be of French locational origins from the village of Josse sur Mer, in Calvados, Normandy, and this latter may account for Sir John de Joce, recorded at the 1308 Dunstable Tournament.

The surname became popular in Ireland, where it was first introduced by Thomas de Jorse, of Norman Welsh extraction, who sailed from Wales in the reign of Edward I, and arrived with his fleet at Thomond in Munster. Thomas later married the daughter of O'Brien the Prince of Thomond in 1283. They settled in the far west of Connacht, on the borders of Mayo and Galway, where their descendants became completely gaelicised, ruling the territory in the barony of Ross - today still known as 'Joyce's Country' - up to the 17th century. The sept stood firm against the English (winning one notable skirmish on Lough Mask in 1587) and became powerful in Galway and Mayo. Today the surname is strongly associated with that area and a large majority of Joyces originate from counties Galway and Mayo.

The Joyces were one of the fourteen 'Tribes of Galway', who had seats in Mervue, Woodquay, and parts of County Mayo.

Famous People with Joyce as their Surname

Joyce Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms granted to a family has the blazon of a silver shield thereon a double headed eagle displayed gules, overall a fesse ermine.

The Joyce Motto

"Mors aut honorabilis vita"-"Death before dishonour"

Please Note

There is often limited information available on a specific coat of arms and motto for an Irish surname. Sometimes there are many variations, sometimes none, we have compiled a representative, but by no means exhaustive, selection. Please visit our Coat of Arms and Motto page for more information.

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