Captain Charles Joyce (died 1776) was a British Army officer. In the autumn of 1776, in Setauket, New York, after a tavern brawl with Selah Strong and Abraham Woodhull, Captain Joyce was due to face a court martial.
However, shortly after the brawl, Joyce was killed and later discovered the next morning by slaves in a field, with Woodhull quickly becoming a suspect in his murder. However, Woodhull would later discover Joyce's true killer, John Robeson, who was allowed to go free after he agreed to serve as a spy for Rogers.
British Army service
In the autumn of 1776, in Setauket, New York, Captain Joyce and other Redcoats were in a tavern owned by Selah Strong. During their attendance, John Robeson, a Tory oyster farmer read aloud an account of a retreat by Continental Army General George Washington.
Angered at the offense taken by his wife Anna, Selah ordered John to leave, causing a struggle. Beer was soon spilled on Captain Joyce, who angrily tackled Selah. Abraham Woodhull, an acquaintance of Selah and Anna, attempted to intervene, but was stopped at gunpoint by Lieutenant John Graves Simcoe. Abe was then thrown to the floor and beaten, for his actions.
Inside the Setauket church, Captain Joyce was later order by Major Hewlett to return to England to face a court martial for his actions during the tavern brawl.
The morning after the brawl, Captain Joyce was found dead by slaves in a field with his throat slit. After having disappeared to trade with Caleb Brewster, Abe was quickly declared a suspect in the murder.
Robert Rogers investigated the death, questioning Abe and Richard Woodhull and Anna Strong. Rogers even went so far as to investigate Joyce's body in front of the Woodhulls. It was later discovered with the aid of Woodhull and Strong that John Robeson had been Joyce's murderer.
However, at a meeting between Woodhull and Robeson, Rogers killed Ensign Clayton as the Ensign went to kill Woodhull, saving Abe. Rogers then informed Robeson that he would not reveal his buggery to Joyce to the townspeople, if he would serve as his eyes and ears in Setauket, also asking Abe to give his word that he will keep an eye on Robeson for him and to let him know if Robeson attempts to flee.