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JOY, WILLIAM (d. 1734), 'the English Samson,' born at St. Lawrence, near Ramsgate, seems to have first attracted public attention about 1699, when he commenced a regular course of performances at the Duke's Theatre in Dorset Garden. The novel use to which the theatre, where most of Otway's plays had been produced, was thus subjected excited adverse comment. Tom Brown remarks, in a 'Letter to George Moult, Esqre.,' dated 12 Sept. 1699, 'the strong Kentish man (of whom you have heard so many stories) has, as I told you above, taken up his quarters in Dorset Gardens, and how they'll get him out again the Lord knows, for he threatens to thrash all the poets if they pretend to disturb him.' In the prologue to Farqubar's 'Constant Couple,' written a few months later, complaint is made of the wrong done to 'poor Dorset Garden-house' by 'that strong dog Samson,' who 'snaps rope like thread.' Joy is said among other feats to have broken a rope which had borne 3,500 pounds weight, and to have lifted from the ground a stone weighing 2,240 pounds. 'Topham, Sheppard, and Madame Gobert were but pigmies,' says Caulfield, 'compared with the English Samson.' In a pamphlet entitled 'A Walk to Smithfield, or a True Description of the Humours of Bartholomew Fair,' 1701, 4to, the writer describes how, having at last squeezed his way to Pye Corner, he was informed that our English Samson was performing there, and having paid his money at the door was admitted to a seat three stories high, when presently the Man of Kent appeared 'equipped like one of the London champions on the Artillery ground at the mock storming of a castle.' In addition to his regular performances, Joy exhibited at Kensington Palace before William III, and afterwards before Queen Anne and other notabilities. When his vogue was over he seems to have 'followed the Infamous Practice of Smugling, and was drowned 1734' (Lewis, Hist, of Tenet, p. 189). Some advertisements containing further details of the feats performed by Joy, or as he was sometimes called Joyce, are given in Mr. Henry Morley's 'Bartholomew Fair,' pp. 253-4. There are two engravings of Joy mentioned in Bromley's 'Engraved Portraits;' one, dated 1699, is given in Caulfield, the other, 'in an oval, with representations of his surprising feats in seven compartments, and descriptions in Dutch beneath. P. v. de Berge fecit,' is quoted in Evans's 'Catalogue of Engraved Portraits.'

[Caulfield's Portraits, Memoirs, and Characters of Remarkable Persons, vol. i.; Thomas Brown's Collected Works (1715), iv. 217, 218; Bromley's and Evans's Catalogues of Engraved Portraits.]

T. S.