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Joshua Fry (ca. 1700-1754) was a surveyor and a pioneer, a professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, a justice of the peace and a militiaman. Born in Somersetshire, England, Fry studied at Oxford and by 1720 had emigrated to Virginia. After heading the grammar school connected with the College of William and Mary, and holding a professorship at the College itself during the 1730s, he moved to the Virginia Piedmont with his wife and children. They settled in an area of Goochland County that shortly afterwards became part of the newly-created Albemarle County. Fry was named first presiding justice of the new county and county surveyor.1
In 1746, Fry and Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson, were chosen to establish the boundary of Lord Fairfax's grant on Virginia's northern neck.2 Three years later, Fry and Peter Jefferson worked together again to map the colony for Governor Lewis Burwell. They produced the "Map of the Inhabited Parts of Virginia" (1751), more widely known as the Fry-Jefferson Map of Virginia.3
Continuing to serve the colonial government, Joshua Fry was one of the negotiators of the treaty of Logstown (1752) that allowed for white settlement southeast of the Ohio River.4 In March 1754, as hostilities between the French and English were coming to a head, Fry was commissioned commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia. He was mortally injured in a fall from his horse in May 1754. His second-in-command, George Washington, subsequently assumed command of the militia.5
- ANB, 8:48-49.
- Slaughter, Philip, and Henry Fry. Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry: Sometime Professor in William and Mary College, Virginia, and Washington's Senior in Command of Virginia Forces, 1754, Etc., Etc.: With an Autobiography of His Son, Rev. Henry Fry, and a Census of Their Descendants. Richmond, Va.: Randolph & English, 1880. Text available online at Internet Archive.
- 1. Philip Slaughter and Henry Fry, Memoir of Col. Joshua Fry: Sometime Professor in William and Mary College, Virginia, and Washington's Senior in Command of Virginia Forces, 1754, Etc., Etc.: With an Autobiography of His Son, Rev. Henry Fry, and a Census of Their Descendants (Richmond, Va.: Randolph & English, 1880), 15-21.
- 2. Wilmer L. Hall, ed., Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, 2nd ed. (Richmond: The Virginia State Library, 1967), V:252-53.
- 3. Hall, Executive Journals, V:354.
- 4. Hall, Executive Journals, V:374.
- 5. A Roll of the Officers and Soldiers in the Virginia Regiment of 1754, April 30, 1771, in The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, ed. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993), 8:451-52. Transcription available at Founders Online.