The Joy Family
The Ancestors of William Joy
William James Joy

Joy Family Album

G5 William Joy
(1786 - )
Catherine Balls
(ca 1786 - )
Job Bunker Rebecca unknown unknown unknown unknown
G4 William Joy
(1811 - )
Sarah Bunker
(1812 - )
George Richardson
(ca 1814 - )
Mary Lettin
(ca 1814 - )
G3 Abel Joy
(1834 - 1907)
Sarah Richardson
(1834 - 1874)
G2 William James Joy
(1867 - 1935)
= 1896
Emma Louisa Harper
(1871 - 1957)
Ampthill Area
The Joy family have been traced back to ca 1660 in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, UK and the surrounding area of Bedfordshire, a few miles south of Bedford, where they continued to live for at least the next 200 years.

In 7 generations the Joys and their wives came from:

Marston Moretaine ---------------------- Cople
Cople ---------------------- Haynes
Goldington ---------------------- Marston Moretaine
Marston Moretaine ---------------------- Flitwick
Flitwick ---------------------- Pulloxhill
Flitwick ---------------------- Haynes
Amphill ---------------------- Maulden
all of these places would fit in a circle of about 5 mile radius!
The churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Maulden
View of Maulden from St Mary's
Origin of the Joy Name
The distribution of the Joy name in 1881 shows a concentration in Bedfordshire, but the main concentration is along the south coast (perhaps suggesting a relatively recent French origin?) and another grouping in the Nottingham area.

The Surname Profiler website shows the following information for the Joy name:

Geographical SpreadStatistics
Great Britain top area (1881)Bournemouth
Great Britain top area (1998)Bournemouth
Great Britain top area index *503
Great Britain top postal townRingwood
Number of UK gazetteer entriesNone
County of gazetteer entryNot applicable
Republic of Ireland top county 
Republic of Ireland top county index * 
Australia top stateNorthern Territory
Australia top state index *255
Australia top standard statistical divisionOrd, West Australia
New Zealand top provinceCanterbury
New Zealand top province index *197
United States top stateMaine
United States top state index *581

*See note 2 for an explanation of the terms.

Joys in the Bedfordshire Gaol Register
A number of Joys are listed in the Bedfordshire Gaol database. It is not known if they are closely related but as it was not a very common name, it is reasonably certain that they are related in some way.
Gaol Record Detail For James Joy Samuel Joy Richard Joy Daniel Joy
Commital Year1825184318521852
Height5 feet 6 inches 5 feet 8 inches5 feet 5 inches
Hair ColourSandyDark BrownDark Brown
Eye ColourBlackGrey
OccupationLabourerStone Mason
EducationRead and Write
Marital StatusSingleSingle
Identifying FeaturesStout, scar on the left little fingerDark spot on back of right hand near the thumb
Birth townWilsteadHaynesCranfield
OffenceGame LawsGame LawsOn the 17th Dec.1852 at Luton in the said county cruelly beating and ill treating an AssFurther examination
Committed ByRev.W.P.NethersoleG.P.Livius EsquireH.Brandreth Esquire, J. Crawley esq.C.L.Higgins Esquire
When Committed11/01/182510/06/184321/12/185210/11/1852
Type of GaolBedford, Old House of CorrectionBedford, New House of CorrectionBedford, New House of Correction
Sentence3 Months6 Weeks Hard Labour2 Calendar Months Hard Labour or pay 4 pounds 19 shillings and sixpence2 Calendar Months Hard Labour or pay 4.19s. 6d.
Prison WorkMill
How DisposedDischargedPaid Fine
Discharge Date04/04/182530/08/184321/12/185213/11/1852
General Remarks on PrisonerOrderlyOrderly
From the census data, the male Joys were farm labourers and the women "Bonnet Sewers" and "Plaiters", the latter apparently being makers of straw hats.


By PAMELA HORN, Oxford Polytechnic (The Historical Journal, XVII, 4 (i), p 779)

ALTHOUGH for most country girls in Victorian England the choice of work outside the home was limited to domestic service, there were certain areas to which this did not apply. In some cases the reason lay in the existence of competing employment in local factories or workshops - so that in Lancashire (taking rural and urban districts together) about one in four girls aged between ten and fifteen were employed in cotton manufacture at the time of the 1871 Census of Population. But in other places, the cause was the continued survival of a cottage industry in which child labour played a significant role and where 'a well- ordered family could obtain as much or more than the husband who was at work on a neighbouring farm. This latter circumstance applied to the counties of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, where particularly during the first half of Queen Victoria's reign the pillow lace and straw plait trades were of considerable importance the latter being organized primarily to meet the needs of the hat industry of Luton and Dunstable. Table i shows the size of the work force as recorded in the Census Reports of 1851,1861 and 1871. Nevertheless, these figures are probably an under-estimate of the true position, since many of the women and children working only on a part-time basis did not bother to declare their occupation to the Census enumerator.

There can be little doubt of the overall dominance of the two counties in these cottage industries. At the 1871 Census more than half of the country's straw plaiters were to be found within them, while of the five major pillow lace making centres, viz. Northamptonshire, Devon, Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, the two last provided three-fifths of the total. At that date nearly one in three of Bedfordshire's girls in the age range ten to fifteen were employed as plaiters, while about one in nine of the Buckinghamshire girls in the same age group were occupied as lacemakers.

(from A. J. Tansley, On the Straw Plait Trade, Journal of the Society of Arts, ix, 72, 21 Dec. i86o.)

Early death and disease was a part of life in pre 20th century England, however apart from the high infant death rate, I had not found any indication of epidemics until researching the Joy family and later the Harpers. In 1864 the four children of Abel and Sarah Joy died within a few weeks of each other. At that time the main diseases were cholera and the zymotic diseases which included smallpox, measles, scarlet-fever, diphtheria, whooping-cough and fevers. While I have not found any solid evidence, from references on the internet it seems highly likely that they died of smallpox, which was active in the area in 1864.
We have done very little work on the history of the family. The little we know shows that both George Richardson and his wife Mary Lettin were born and married in Maulden, Bedfordshire in the early 19th C.

The Richardson distribution in 1881 implies the family originates in Northern England, however our Richardson family lived south of Bedford in Bedfordshire from at least 1814.

The Lettin family name seems to be quite rare - to the extent that it is not listed in the Surname Distribution database.

For details on their family continue here.

Notes & References
  1. Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service
  2. Bedfordshire Gaol Records
  3. * Meaning of an 'index' : An 'index' shows whether the level of something is higher in one area than it is in another area. In this instance we are interested in whether the number of occurrences of a name per million population is higher in a particular area than it is elsewhere. Thus we compare the incidence of a name in the US state where it is most concentrated with the average level of concentration in the whole of the US; the incidence in Australia's top state with the Australian average; the incidence in New Zealand's top province with the New Zealand average; the incidence in GB's top postal area with the GB average.

    * Calculation of an 'index' : If a name has a rate per million population in an area which is identical to its rate in a base comparison area then we say it has an index of '100'. An index of '200' for a the name Jenson in Ohio would mean that the name Jenson was twice as common, per million population, in Ohio as it was in the reference area, in this case the whole US. An index of '500' for Wong in Victoria would indicate that the name Wong was five times more common per 1,000,000 names in Victoria than in the whole of Australia. An index of '1000' for the name Penhaligon in New Zealand would mean it was ten times more common per 1,000.000 names in New Zealand than in Great Britain. By contrast an index of only '50' would indicate a name which was only half as common in a target area than in its reference area.