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Loyal Company


Formed in 1749 by Dr. Thomas Walker and John Lewis, the Loyal Company was established to promote settlement by colonists in the trans-Allegheny sections of Virginia. The Loyal Company, as well as the Greenbrier Company, was colonial Virginia’s response to England’s interference in the distribution of Virginia land. England asserted that the crown could award title to Virginia land by royal grant. On the other hand, colonists maintained that the Virginia Charter gave them control over the land of Virginia and to land extending far into the continental west.

On July 12, 1749, the Loyal Company was granted 800,000 acres by Virginia, having received support at the highest levels of Virginia government. On March 6, 1750, Thomas Walker and five others went on an expedition to search out lands for the company. They went into central Kentucky and returned by way of present southern West Virginia. By 1754, the Loyal Company had settled about 200 families on its lands, including some along the New and Bluestone rivers in present West Virginia. Indian warfare destroyed most of the settlements of the Loyal Company during the French and Indian War.

After the war, Britain attempted to control violence on the frontier by prohibiting settlement west of the Alleghenies. This move upset settlers and land speculators alike. The Loyal Company, along with the Greenbrier and Ohio companies, helped push through the 1770 Treaty of Lochaber to give them western territory to expand. Signed with the Cherokee, this treaty added approximately 9,000 square miles to the territory of Virginia. The desire to expand westward brought Virginia, as well as other colonies, into conflict with British policy and advanced the journey toward independence.

Written by Stephen G. Smith