The Joyce Tomb in Cockshutt Churchyard

One of the Treasures of Our Benefice

One of the chest tombs near the door of Cockshutt Church has a brass longcase clock dial set into the ledger stone.  The grave is that of John Joyce whose ancestors had lived in this locality for centuries.  One of those ancestors, another John Joyce, took over the job of maintaining the clock in Ellesmere church from ‘Nash of Cockshutt’ and made a new clock for Ellesmere church in 1706.  Over the next three centuries the Joyce dynasty produced some 25 eminent clock and watchmakers, becoming one of the most highly respected names in the history of horology.

On 9th Feb. 1691, William, son of John and Elizabeth Joyce of the Lodge (halfway between Cockshutt and Ellesmere) was baptised in Ellesmere parish church.  When he was old enough, probably aged 14, he was apprenticed to another member of the family, John William Joyce, a clockmaker in Wrexham.  In 1722 William was named as the executor of his uncle, Arthur Joyce, an innkeeper of Cockshutt.  This was probably the reason for his return to his native Cockshutt. We know that William Joyce 1692-1771 was working as a clockmaker in Cockshutt and that he made a sundial for Cockshutt Church in 1724.  According to an old local tradition the sundial in Cockshutt churchyard marks his grave. His eldest son, John Joyce, continued the family business and the records show that he looked after the clock of Ellesmere Church for 20 years 1738-1758.  At least five of his seven sons, born at Cockshutt, became clock and watchmakers.  It was James Joyce, the third son of John and Deborah Joyce who removed the business from Cockshutt to Whitchurch where the firm gained international fame.

Christopher Jobson

Images Copyright Christopher Jobson and Meres and Meadows.

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