According to the St. Helena Parish Register, John Joyner and his wife, Phebe, moved from Bristol England to Georgia first. In the source cited above, John Joyner is described as being 5' 6" tall, with dark brown hair, and a dark complexion. Once in the colonies, the family settled in Frederica, Georgia where Capt. Joyner commanded a scout boat which patrolled the coastal waterway. Some time around 1750, the family relocated to Beaufort, South Carolina, where Joyner also commanded a scout boat. Joyner at some point in time decided to make his permanent home in Beaufort rather than return to Frederica. The Joyner family plantation was between Beaufort and Battery Point, in South Carolina.
As a young mariner, Joyner continued his sea service with the command of the scout boat stationed in Port Royal in 1763. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Joyner cast his lot with the patriot cause. In June 1775, Capt, John Joyner, joined by a Capt. John Barnwell, and with the help of Georgia patriots, captured a British ship off Tybee Island, headed for Savannah, Georgia.This ship was under the command of a Capt. Maitland and was carrying 16,000 pounds of gunpowder. The intended destination of this gunpowder was the British-allied, Indian tribes. Yet, Gen. Washington badly needed this gunpowder to supply his troops, then besieging Boston, Massachusetts.
Capt. Joyner would accompany Gillon to Europe in search of ships to help protect the coast of South Carolina from British and Loyalist raiders. It appears that as Gillon moved almost effortlessly between the different societies and courts of Europe, Joyner accompanied him. Sources mention an entourage of people who traveled with Gillon but, also state that this entourage grew smaller as these individuals either completed their intended tasks or grew disillusioned and left of their own accord. But, it seems that Joyner stayed with him. Thus, when the South Carolina, newly christened as such by Gillon, set sail from Texel, Holland in August 1781, it was with Joyner as his trusted second in command. He functioned in this position for the entirety of the maiden voyage of the South Carolina.
After the South Carolina had moored in Philadelphia and all the political/legal trouble began for Commodore Gillon, command of the ship was turned over to Capt. John Joyner. This appears to have been done for a very sound reason. Commodore Gillon had signed the original agreement/lease for the L'Indien/South Carolina with the Chevalier of Luxembourg. There were several conditions included in this agreement but, one of these additional stipulations was that the Commodore pledged his personal property and wealth as collateral against loss of the frigate or faulting on the conditions of the agreement. Gillon must have sensed that if he could physically distance himself from the South Carolina, being that he had become the object of legal action, that this might provide for the ship actually putting to sea and possibly fulfilling at least a portion of her agreed-upon conditions by means of a successful cruise.
Thus, it was under the direct command of Capt. John Joyner that the South Carolina first moved down the Delaware River to Billingsport, NJ. This decision was directly related to the first reason for Gillon turning over command to Joyner. Hopefully, by moving the South Carolina out of Pennsylvanian jurisdiction, legal action, such as seizure of the ship, would be slowed down or deterred for some time. On December 19, 1782, Joyner had the lines of the South Carolina cast off and headed down towards the Delaware Capes and the open Atlantic. Capt. John Joyner was 63 years old at the time, according to the source cited above. As she and her small convoy of merchant vessels cleared the capes, they were spotted by three British frigates that gave chase and ultimately captured the South Carolina and all of the escorted convoy vessels, save one; the schooner, Seagrove.
Capt. John Joyner was taken, along with the entire crew of the South Carolina, to New York City, the major British base in North America. As the ranking rebel officer, he was paroled within the city until he was exchanged at the end of the war. In March 1784, after the conclusion of the war, Capt. Joyner was brought before a naval court of inquiry, duly appointed by the legislature of the state of South Carolina. This court of inquiry was to review the circumstances surrounding the loss of the South Carolina. At the end of its proceedings, this court honorably acquitted Capt. John Joyner of all charges concerning the loss of the South Carolina. Yet, the loss of the South Carolina would cast a pale over John Joyner for the remainder of his life.