Notes on Study of 18th Century Methodist Pioneer – Rev. Francis Poythress

The link below will take you to a compilation of eight biographical and historical accounts of this Francis Poythress.  These are fascinating accounts.   There are more sources of documentation but these are the most substantial I’ve identified so far.  Supplemental documents will be added as the study of Rev. Francis Poythress progresses.
The Methodist historical archives are housed at Pace University in New Jersey — I’ve seen no indication that Poythress family researchers posting to our list have explored possible early correspondences, etc.   A “Francis Poythress” biographical file exists but we do not yet know the scope or nature of the contents beyond the generic description of the biographical files (see below).
The Biographical File Collection contains folders of information largely on historic and current Methodist figures. The file listing also includes the names of non-Methodists. The files contain basic biographical information though largely newspaper clippings, book reviews, and occasional correspondence.  This collection of folders is available for researchers at the United Methodist Archives Center at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, USA. The Wilson Reading Room is open from 9 AM – 5 PM Monday through Friday with the exception of some holidays. For questions about access and/or availability please contact Cassie Brand, Methodist Library Associate and Special Collections Cataloger, at or 973.408.3590.
Folder: 8016 Poythress, Francis
The general search of the Pace library collection shows the following documents mentioning Francis Poythress:
Over the years on this list we’ve have several very thoughtful exchanges and detailed speculations about Rev. Francis Poythress but we’ve never done a thorough compilation of all available evidence about his family and career as a pioneering circuit rider during the establishment of Methodism in America.
Minimally, these accounts suggest:
(1) That he spent at least one year in the Continental Army (1776-77)  – needs attention since this would suggest there may have been two Francis Poythress men serving, during this period.
(2) That he was well-educated and polished, or so judged.
(3) That he was born circa 1743-4 (about the same time as Robert Poythress’ death – inherited a considerable estate upon the early death of his father and seems to have been reckless and spoiled;.  I mention Robert Poythress since the timing of this presumed date of birth and the passing of Robert Poythress might mean that this Francis Poythress might have been unborn when Robert’s will was executed.
(4) That his sister Susannah (Susan, Susanna) moved to Jessamine county, KY  (originally part of Fayette) with other Pryor families from VA.  A will documents that she was the widow of Luke Pryor.  She held considerable property both in Virginia and later when she moved to Kentucky.  I’m pulling together as much as I can find about her but am not ready to post.  There seems to be some solid research already assembled for this branch of the Pryor family, although I’ve not seen evidence that the Pryor research community has allied family research about her.
(5) That he may have lived with or been under the mentorship for some period of time of Rev. Devereux Jarratt (of Dinwiddie Co – Bath Parish) while studying religion.  We know from his Jarratt’s autobiography that he came to Bath Parish in August,1763.  There is no mention of the Poythress family in his autobiography, but it is a rather short treatment.  This connection, I believe, could help us place (both timeframe and physical location) Rev. Poythress during his early adulthood.  Multiple Poythress families were in Dinwiddie County during the 18th Century.
To make the Rev. Jarratt connection even more intriguing, we have this passage (page 81) in Randolph, W. (1952). Henry Randolph I, 1623-1773 [sic] of Henrico County, Virginia, and his descendants: Preceded by short review of the Randolph family in early England and elsewhere. Memphis: Distributed by Cossitt Library.
In the Reverend Mr. Slaughter’s History of Bristol Parish (p. 206) there is this record: “Mary, daughter of Francis Poythress and Mary Peterson, married Randolph of Amelia County.” Neither the date nor the place of their marriage is given but it is certain that the marriage of Henry Randolph V is here referred to.6 According to family tradition, his wife was commonly called Polly Peterson Poythress and in her stockings she knitted her initials “P.P.P.” She had been reared in the family of the Rev. Devereux Jarratt7 and she was about 13 yearsof age when she married, her fiance being about 10 years her elder. She was quite wealthy as wealth was estimated at that time, owning 160 slaves, 80 of which she had inherited from her brother on his death unmarried.
7 For references to Rev. Dev. Jarrett, see: 55 Va. 154; 23 W. & M. (2) 271.
If this family tradition is an accurate account, why would Mary (Polly) Peterson Poythress (born 1763) to Francis Poythress and Mary Peterson be reared in the family of Rev. Devereux?  And if true, how might this connect with the known relationship to the education of Rev. Francis Poythress?