Poythress Surname DNA Study

Poythress/Poytress Surname Y-DNA Study

Note:  This Study is an all-volunteer effort.  Barbara serves as the volunteer Group Administrator of the Project.  She has no connection or affiliation with the company being used for the testing.

General Background on Surname Study

Our surname is a relatively rare one. In England, the POYTRESS surname has been around for more than 400 years. In America, people of the POYTHRESS surname have been here for almost 400 years. In America the earliest of the name we have found is Francis Poythress, who came prior to 9 Feb 1632, when he was in James City County, Virginia.  We know he served as a factor (or an agent) for a London merchant, Lawrence Evans, in the year prior to Sep 1637, and served as a Burgess representing Charles City County, Virginia in 1644 and later. (See citations for these and more early information at our website’s “17th Century Records” section)

The christening that researchers have found in England (apparently for this man), was that of Francis POYTHRESS, christened on 12 July 1609 at Newent, in Gloucestershire, a son of John PEWDREIES (who owned nearby Ploddy House until 1647/48). Another son of John PEWDREIES of Newent, Christopher POYDRAS, was christened in early Sep 1616, according to St. Swithun’s Parish Register, Worcester.  Christopher did not leave England and left many descendants there who spell the surname POYTRESS.

To better determine whether the current POYTHRESS and POYTRESS surnamed people indeed descend from one progenitor, this Surname DNA Study Project was launched in June 2003. It is open to any male, in any country, born of a father who was surnamed Poythress, Poytress, or other possible spelling variations. As of 2017 fewer than two dozen of our participants are males bearing the Poythress OR Poytress surname.  More males who descend from a male bearing either surname are welcome.

DNA Testing as a Genealogical Research Tool

DNA testing is a valuable tool developing for genealogical research. Surname Y-DNA Study projects look at certain distinct markers within the Y Chromosome of the DNA, which is a small part of the DNA that a father passes to his son. Since these markers are consistently passed through the male line, the markers occur in the men of that surname: thus Poythress or Poytress surnamed sons inherit them from their Poythress or Poytress surnamed fathers.

For Surname Y-DNA Studies, the company gives a discount from the price that would be charged to an individual not affiliated with a Surname Study. To join the project, at FamilyTreeDNA.com, under the “Projects” tab, search on the POYTHRESS surname and follow the resulting link.

If you are interested in participating in our Study, and need assistance in affording it, please privately contact our volunteer Group Administrator, Barbara Poythress Neal: bp_neal@earthlink.net

Anyone interested in helping to sponsor a participant (perhaps the father, brother, or uncle of an interested female) can also contact Barbara to discuss how this can be accomplished.

The Surname Y-DNA Study Methodology

The Y-DNA test is as easy as brushing one’s teeth. The test kit consists of a cheek scraper and a collection tube. Using the cheek scraper is similar to brushing the inside of one’s cheek with a soft-bristled toothbrush.  The Y-DNA test kit does not test for any disease, or hereditary condition; it looks only at specific markers within the man’s Y Chromosome.

When men of the same surname (or variant) match one another exactly on a number of the markers, test reports give terms of probability that the participants are related within a certain number of generations. When the markers of those tested men vary just a bit, by only one or two “repeats” on only one or two of the markers, the probability of them being closely related is still very, very high. Such slight variations come from normal changes, or mutations, that develop randomly within the Y-DNA, as it repeats itself over a period of time.  Thus when testing a number of men of the same surname (or variant), results begin to show sub-groups of men develop, who are more closely related within various branches of the same surname line.


For most of our participants, 67-marker tests were ordered. One participant is in England and is known to be descended from the above-mentioned John who owned Ploddy House in Gloucestershire in the 1600s, through John’s son Christopher. Our other participants are Americans, many of whom had ancestors known to have lived in Virginia before most of their family lines moved further south to North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and then westward to Alabama, Mississippi, Lousiana, and Texas. Another participant’s ancestors later came from England directly to California.

We continue to work with more customary genealogical source materials (including census, tax, land, Bible, etc records) and to look for such source materials that are harder to find, in our effort to better determine how the various branches relate to each other.  If you have further questions, please personally contact our volunteer Group Administrator, Barbara Poythress Neal: bp_neal@earthlink.net

DNA Results:

To view some comparative Poythress / Poytress Y-DNA results, one can use the “Ysearch” website, www.ysearch.org

Ysearch is a huge public DNA database where individuals’ DNA numbers can be easily compared between those having the same surname, or even can be compared with people having other surnames. Privacy is available in Ysearch, even when DNA numerical results are listed.

To see Poythress / Poytress Y-DNA results (or any other surname’s Y-DNA info desired), at www.ysearch.org  at the top of the page, click on the tab “Search By Last Name” and then in the first box, type “Poythress, Poytress” (or whatever surnames) & hit the “Search” button which is a few lines lower.

At the resulting page, by clicking on the “1” next to the name POYTHRESS (for example), or the “1” next to the name Poytress, a list will show the number of records found of that name, by User ID alpha-numeric codes.  By clicking on any man’s User ID, you can see test results for his various Y-DNA markers.  By reading ALL the way down through that page for his User ID, you can often see Additional Information submitted about his Paternal Line.

To see comparative DNA info about several (or all) of these men listed at Ysearch, go back to the list of all of them, and click in the little box under the “Compare” column for each one you want to see, or you can click on “Check All” just above that column. Then click on the word “Compare” At the next screen, click on the top choice, “Show comparative Y-DNA results”

This will show a chart where the markers’ numerical results currently available can be compared. In this chart you’ll see, for example, that in the first 12 markers’ columns most of the men have identical numbers — or nearly identical. Two descendants of Lewis Poythress have one number that differs from most other participants. (Lewis Poythress lived from about 1771 to about 1846 in Mecklenburg County, VA.)

As you look further across the columns of marker numbers, you begin to see a little more variation.  The Ysearch database is updated as results are available.

As of 2017, actual Pedigree Charts have been submitted at YSearch by various people who are NOT males bearing the surname of Poythress or Poytress.  Those other-surnamed folk have taken additional DNA tests which try to see how people are related (often quite remotely related) across surnames. None of our Poythress / Poytress surnamed male participants have submitted Pedigree Charts to YSearch as of mid-2017.

We all appreciate the participation of each person in our Poythress / Poytress Surname Y-DNA Study.  We look forward to learning more thanks to them.