A short time after the founding of the Loyal Company, the Reverend James Maury (1717-1769) read Joshua Fry’s copy of Daniel Coxe’s A Description of the English Province of Carolana (London, 1722) that espoused symmetrical geography (see Item 12). Maury was minister of the Fredericksville Parish from 1751 until 1769 and an enthusiastic student of the geography of North America. The Coxe book described a powerful Missouri River flowing into the Mississippi and providing an easy route to the Pacific Ocean. This “passage” to the West aroused the enthusiasm of Maury and other members of the Loyal Company, many of whom served on the Fredericksville Parish vestry board.
In 1753 the Loyal Company acted on its enthusiasm for the West by planning an expedition up the Missouri River and to the Pacific Ocean. Thomas Walker was to lead the expedition but the adventure never took place because the French and Indian War intervened. It is likely that Thomas Jefferson, who was ten years old at the time, heard about this expedition from his father and from James Maury, who tutored him for two years. Meriwether Lewis also may have heard about this expedition from his family connections or from his tutor, James Maury’s son, Matthew.