The Family of Thomas Joyce, Clothier of Bradford on Avon & Freshford
Thomas Joyce was born in Freshford but at an early age he went to Bradford to make his fortune. It was here that he teamed up with John Moggridge and founded their first factory at the Bull Pit near the Swan Hotel. He next went onto Avoncliffe and built a Factory which was later to become A Poor house and is today a close of houses. By the year of his purchase of Freshford Manor he had finished building the 6 storey Dunkirk Mill in Sharpstone. With the wealth from the mills he bought farms in neighbouring villages and in 1807 paid £13,500 for most of Freshford from the Methuens. Finaly he purchased the largest Mill in the area at Staverton which employed nearly 1000 people. If this was not enough he was also a Colonel in the Bathforum Militia and a magistrate. As a member of the Bath and West Society he undertook a number of experiments for them in the use of Merino sheep. His wife Francis was the daughter of John Heath, an Attorney and Banker who no doubt helped finance his son- in- law's businesses. Thomas was very much involved in the transition from home to factory with the Clothing business. The industry went through a boom during the Napolienic Wars with the increased demand from the Military. There was a backlash from the workers who resented the new machinery and riots broke out in Bradford. The previous owner of Staverton had been shot in the face and even Freshford had its problems. A newscutting of the time refers to a huge reward for anyone who can find out who had put a poster up on the wall of the Inn condemning the rich Clothiers. Thomas Joyce with his family controlled Freshford, for nearly everyone worked in his Mills or farmed his ground. He even produced his own tokens, with an impression of Dunkirk Mill on one side for use in his shops and Pubs. When he finally died in 1817 he had the largest Memorial in the Church placed above the door. His eldest daughter Francis Maria conveniently married her cousin John Joyce which ensured the wealth stayed within the family.