Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Joyce, Jeremiah

JOYCE, JEREMIAH (1763–1816), miscellaneous writer, born 24 Feb. 1763, was son of Jeremiah Joyce by his wife, Hannah, daughter of John Somersett of Mildred's Court, London. He became a journeyman glazier, but on the death of his father in 1778 he succeeded to a small copyhold property. This and the generous kindness of his eldest brother, Joshua Joyce, enabled him to study under the direction of the Rev. Hugh Worthington for the unitarian ministry. He acquired a good knowledge of mathematics and Latin, and received useful suggestions from Taylor the Platonist. He soon became tutor to the sons of Earl Stanhope. But he held advanced political views, joined the Society for Constitutional Information, and the London Corresponding Society, and on 4 May 1794 was arrested at Stanhope's house at Chevening, Kent, on a charge of 'treasonable practices,' a proceeding only rendered possible by a bill which was then being hurried through parliament, and which was in effect a suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act. Pitt is said to have directed the arrest in order to irritate Stanhope, his brother-in-law. Joyce was carried to London, and brought before the privy council for examination. The assistance of counsel was refused him, and he declined to answer any questions. He remained in the custody of Ross, a king's messenger, till 19 May, when, with Thomas Hardy [q. v.], John Horne Tooke [q. v.], and three others, he was committed to the Tower on a charge of high treason, though no act was specified. On 24 Oct. the prisoners were removed to Newgate, and next day were brought up at the Old Bailey, a copy of the indictment having been previously delivered to each of them. The grand jury of Middlesex found a true bill against Joyce and his companions; but after the trials and acquittal of Hardy and Tooke, the attorney-general stated, on 23 Nov., that it was not his intention to call any evidence against the other prisoners; they were found not guilty, and released. Joyce had suffered twenty-three weeks' imprisonment, and on his acquittal received an enthusiastic welcome from Earl Stanhope and other friends who had worked hard in his defence. He was for many years afterwards secretary of the Unitarian Society, and was at the time of his death, which took place at Highgate 21 June 1810, minister of the unitarian chapel at Hampstead. He was buried in Cheshunt churchyard, and on his grave is a poetical epitaph by the Rev. William Shepherd. He left a widow and six children. Joyce was an excellent scholar, and edited and wrote many popular works on scientific subjects.

His chief works are:

  1. 'A Sermon [on Mark xiv. 27], with an Appendix containing an Account of the Author's Arrest for Treasonable Practices,' &c., 1794.
  2. 'Scientific Dialogues,' 1807, often reprinted; a Welsh translation was published in 1851.
  3. 'Dialogues in Chemistry,' 1807.
  4. 'The Arithmetic of Real Life and Business,' 1809.
  5. 'Lectures on Natural and Experimental Philosophy,' 1810.
  6. 'Dialogues on the Microscope,' 1812.
  7. 'Memoir of Hugh Worthington,' 1813.

He also published 'Analysis of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations,' 1797, and Paley's 'Natural Theology,' 1804; largely edited Gregory's 'Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,' 1808, and William Nicholson's 'British Encyclopaedia,' 1806-9, and wrote the meteorological reports and other papers for the 'Monthly Magazine.'

[Gent. Mag. 1816, pt. i. p. 634; Joyce's Account of his Arrest; Monthly Repository, 1816; Rose's Biog. Dict.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; British Museum Cat.; Howell's State Trials; Smith's Story of the English Jacobins, 1881.]

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