Joshua Fry

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The Fry-Jefferson map of the royal colony of Virginia (1752).

Colonel Joshua Fry (1699–1754) was a surveyor, adventurer, mapmaker, soldier, and member of the House of Burgesses, the legislature of the colony of Virginia. He is best known for collaborating with Peter Jefferson, the father of future U.S. president Thomas Jefferson, on an influential map of Virginia in 1752, and being the immediate predecessor of George Washington as commanding officer of the Virginia Regiment, a key unit in the military developments that led to the outbreak of the French and Indian War.


Born in Crewkerne, Somerset, England, he moved to Essex County, Virginia as a young man to marry the wealthy widow Mary Micou Hill, who bore him five children who grew to adulthood: John, Henry, Martha, William, and Margaret. He was educated at Oxford, and after his arrival from England was made professor of natural philosophy and mathematics at the College of William & Mary. He was afterward a member of the House of Burgesses, and served on the commission appointed to determine the Virginia and North Carolina boundary-line.[1]

In 1743-1744 Fry and his family moved to what is now Albemarle County, Virginia to claim unclaimed plots of land and take advantage of surveying opportunities. There he built a house called Viewmont that sat on a 800-acre (3.2 km2) plantation bordering the Hardware River. He was a colonel of militia and a member of the governor's council in 1750, and in 1752 was a commissioner to treat with the Indians at Logtown.[1] Fry, along with fellow member of the Loyal Land Company, Peter Jefferson, created the Maryland-Virginia Fry-Jefferson Map in 1752.

In the early days of the French and Indian War, Fry was given the title of Commander-in-Chief of colonial forces, and given command of the Virginia Regiment and was ordered to take Fort Duquesne, then held by the French. During the advance into the Ohio Country, Fry suddenly fell off his horse and died from his injuries on 31 May 1754 at Fort Cumberland, Maryland. A young Virginia officer, George Washington, succeeded Fry in command of the regiment. James Innes of North Carolina briefly succeeded Fry as Commander-in-Chief. Joshua Fry is buried in an unmarked grave within the Rose Hill Cemetery in Cumberland, Maryland.

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  1. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1900). "Fry, Joshua" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. which in turn cites his life by Philip Slaughter (New York, 1880).

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