The Breeze at Spithead, Part 2: Valentine Joyce,

The differences between the mutinies occurring sequentially at Spithead and The Nore can best be explained by the leadership.

The self styled “President of the Fleet” during the mutiny at The Nore was a failed midshipman, failed teacher, named Richard Parker. The head of the mutiny at Spithead is unknown but the presumed guiding hand was provided by a 27 year old quartermaster’s mate from the HMS Royal George, the flagship of Alexander Hood, Lord Bridport.

Like virtually all of the fleet delegates in either mutiny, we know little about Valentine Joyce. Contemporaneously, when British authorities were attempting to paint the mutineers as tools of French Republicans or the United Irishmen movement much was made of Joyce’s surname and he was sometimes described as a failed Dublin shopkeeper.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

Joyce was born at Elizabeth Castle, Jersey. His father was a sergeant in a the 41st Regiment of Foot (Invalids). Though Mainwairing gives his age as 25, baptismal records indicate he was born in 1769 and he, himself, declared that he went to sea when he was a boy. He claimed to have served for 17 years at the time of the mutiny.

His first documented appearance in aboard the 36-gun frigate Perseverance in 1788 when he is rated an Able Seaman. On October 14, 1793 he was rated quartermaster’s mate on HMS Royal George. He was present at the Glorious First of June, and at the time of the mutiny his commander was Captain William Domett not Edward Pakenham as is sometimes stated.

Records of the time being what they are, it is difficult to trace and explain Joyce’s career after the mutiny. It looks as though he was admitted to the hospital at Haslar in 1798 and joins the bomb ketch Vesuvius as an Able Seaman and is quickly rated quartermaster’s mate and then midshipman. Vesuvius paid off in November 1799 and Midshipman Joyce went to the 18-gun brig Brazen. On January 25, 1800 the Brazen was driven by a gale onto the Ave Rocks under Newhaven Cliffs, pictured below, Sussex and all but one sailor drowned.

What is abundantly clear, however, is that Joyce was not a revolutionary and the navy did not punish him for his involvement in “the Breeze at Spithead.”

More details on Joyce are available here. My advice is to use due diligence when reading it.

Visit all our posts on the Spithead Mutiny and the mutiny at The Nore.


Filed under Age of Sail, Mutiny, Naval Biography

3 responses to “The Breeze at Spithead, Part 2: Valentine Joyce,

  1. Pingback: The Breeze at Spithead. Part 6. « Age Of Sail

  2. Pingback: The Breeze At Spithead. Part 9. The Grand Finale. « Age Of Sail

  3. Pingback: The Breeze at Spithead. Part 10. Investigation and Lessons Learned. « Age Of Sail

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