“A Hunt Supper in Old Virginia ” by Mrs. Burton Harrison

Link to full text of the article at Cornell University Library

Link to Cornell’s Making of America Digital Archives

Note: This article has a special interest to the Poythress family. In it the author describes a hunt supper given by Madam and Colonel Peter Poythress in honor of their guest Colonel George Washington. It is to be assumed that at this time Washington ‘s “colonelcy” remained honorary following his 1758 resignation of his commission as commander in chief of British Virginia forces. He had returned to manage his estate at Mount Vernon in 1759. Coincidentally, 1759 is also the birth year of the Poythress daughter “Miss Betty” mentioned in the text.

Colonel Peter Poythress is the great-grandson of the immigrant Poythress to America , Capt. Francis Poythres who arrives in Jamestown about 1632. Madam Poythress is Elizabeth Blair Bland Poythress, daughter of patriot Richard Bland. This couple had one son and nine daughters. From the descriptions in the article it may be concluded that the host couple was wealthy. Each of the nine daughters married into colonial Virginia families who played prominent roles in the colony, the Revolution, and the young republic: Randolph, Mayo, Batte, Eppes, Bland, Lee, and Atkinson.

This article appears on Cornell University ‘s website titled “Making of America” in which are included many publications of early American historical interest. One of the publications represented is Littell’s Living Age, also known simply as The Living Age. Publication began in 1844 and ceased in 1941. The name was revived in 1972 for a periodical by the Littell Families of America that is a genealogy publication on the Littell family rather than a general interest magazine.

The author, a Mrs. Burton Harrison, makes no claim to presenting a scholarly piece of history. The reader will quickly appreciate that this chapter excerpted from Mrs. Harrison’s book is of the type presented in general interest magazines of the 19th century. The style of the article itself is mercifully out of date. However, given that Mrs. Harrison’s other numerous works of prose display serious and considerable talent it might be suggested in this instance that perhaps she is gently parodying a previous account.

Further, the time setting and phrasing of the story suggests that the author was present and obviously, Mrs. Harrison herself (1840-1920), could not have been.

Serial: The Living Age Volume 0214 Issue 2771 (August 14, 1897)
Title: The Living age … / Volume 214, Issue 2771 [pp. 409-496]

Harrison, Mrs. Burton “A Hunt Supper in Old Virginia ” The Living Age Magazine Vol. 214, (August 14, 1897), pp. 485-487.