Skip to main content

Four ministers spoke at George Washington's funeral, each with their own connection to Washington. The ministers who spoke at Washington's funeral were:

The Reverend Mr. Thomas Davis
The rector of Christ Church in Alexandria between 1792 and 1806, Thomas Davis, a native of Charles City County, was an usher at the College of William and Mary in 1768. Davis was ordained in London in 1773, and served as rector to several parishes in Virginia between 1773 and 1810.  During the American Revolution he served as a chaplain to several Virginia regiments and the 1st Continental Dragoons. Davis was captured by the British in 1779.1

Over the years, Davis and George Washington crossed paths numerous times. In 1793, George Washington donated money as part of an effort to buy an organ for Christ Church, in honor of the Reverend Davis.2

Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia
Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia

On July 4th of 1798, George Washington took part in the city of Alexandria's holiday observance that included a service at Christ Church, over which the Reverend Davis presided.  Several months later, on George Washington's final birthday, Mr. Davis visited Mount Vernon for dinner. Later in the day, Davis performed the marriage service of Washington's nephew Lawrence Lewis, who wedded Martha Washington's youngest granddaughter, Eleanor ("Nelly") Parke Custis. Davis spent the night at Mount Vernon and left the next day after dinner.3

The Reverend Dr. James Muir
Reverend Dr. James Muir was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Alexandria, Virginia (now called The Old Presbyterian Meeting House). Reverend Muir was a trustee of the Alexandria Academy, a school for orphaned and needy children that George Washington annually paid a subscription of fifty pounds. When Washington sent in his subscription in 1794, he wrote Muir a letter asking for information about the children his money was helping. He complained that "Never, since the commencement of this institution, have I received the least information (except for a single instance, on this head); although application for it to individuals has been frequently made. As you, Sir, appear to be in the exercise of this trust, let me pray you to have the goodness to gratify this wish of mine." Reverend Muir responded with a letter, detailing the names and progress of fourteen children.4 In 1798, Muir also served on "A Com[mitt]ee. for Distributing donat[io]n. to the Poor," to which Washington also made a contribution.5

Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia
Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia

Reverend Muir was born in Scotland and immigrated to the United States at the age of thirty-three, and served as pastor of the Presbyterian church in Alexandria for thirty-one years. In addition to his work with the Alexandria Academy, he also taught a school for young ladies. He was active throughout the Alexandria community, being appointed Deputy Clerk for the city of Alexandria in the early 1780s and president of The Library Company of Alexandria.

Muir also served as chaplain of the city's St. Andrew's society celebrating Scottish heritage. As chaplain of the Alexandria Masonic Lodge, Muir took part with his brother Masons as the cornerstone of the Federal District was laid in April of 1791 and officiated with Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, the Worshipful Master of the Alexandria Lodge, during the Masonic funeral service for George Washington on December 18, 1799.

Muir continued to serve the family at Mount Vernon after Washington's funeral, baptizing Angela Lewis the daughter of Martha Washington's granddaughter Nelly Custis Lewis, at Woodlawn Plantation in 1809. The Reverend Dr. Muir died at the age of 64 in 1820 and he, his wife, Elizabeth, and several of their children are buried in the church yard of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House.6

The Reverend Mr. William Moffatt (Maffatt)
The Reverend Moffat was a Presbyterian minister who taught at the Alexandria Academy, a school for needy children that George Washington was very generous to both in his lifetime and in his will. Washington, with his brother Masons from the Alexandria lodge, laid the cornerstone of the school in 1785.7

The Reverend Mr. Walter Dulany Addison
The eldest son of Thomas Addison of Oxon Hill, Maryland and Rebecca Dulany Addison, the daughter of Walter Dulany of Annapolis. Walter Dulany Addison was born in 1769, two years after his parents' marriage.  As an adult, Reverend Addison married Elizabeth Dulany Hesselius, the daughter of artist John Hesselius of Bellefield, in Prince George's County, Maryland. Addison visited Mount Vernon to have dinner with several other people on May 31, 1798. At the time of George Washington's death, Reverend Addison was serving as rector of the Episcopal Church in Oxon Hill.8

Reverend Addison's family descended from John Addison who emigrated from England in 1677. The latter's son, Thomas Addison, built the family home, Oxon Hill, across the Potomac River from Alexandria. Several members of this large extended family had business and social dealings with George Washington.9


Mary V. Thompson
Research Historian
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens


1. The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 6, eds. Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig (Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 1979), 335n; Parker C. Thompson, From Its European Antecedents to 1791: The United States Army Chaplaincy (Washington, DC: Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, 1978), 216 & 250; G. MacLaren Brydon, "The Clergy of the Established Church in Virginia and the Revolution," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 41 (January 1933), 134.

2. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, Vol. 32 and 34 ed. John C. Fitzpatrick,  (Washington, DC:  United States Government Printing Office, 1938 & 1940), 32:409-410 & 410n; 34:38n, 423, and 431.

3. The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 6, 304n, 335, 335n, & 336.

4. Artisans and Merchants of Alexandria, Virginia, 1780-1820, Vol. 1, ed. T. Michael Miller (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1991), 7; The Writings of George Washington, 33:279 & 279n, 281-282, and 282n; 34:214.

5. The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 36, 137n.

6. Powell, The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia (William Byrd Press, 1928), 106, 107, 108, 109-110, 156, 161, 200-201, 208, 216, 240, 242.

7. Powell, 155; The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 36, 170. The Last Will and Testament of George Washington and Schedule of his Property to which is appended the Last Will and Testament of Martha Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Mount Vernon, Virginia: The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, 1972), 4-6, 31-32.

8. The Diaries of George Washington, eds. Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig (Charlottesville, Virginia: University Press of Virginia, 1976-1979), Vol. 3, 240n; Vol. 6, 298 & 298n.

9. The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 1, 258, 258n; Vol. 2, 123, 123n, 126, 153, 153n-154n, and 250; Vol. 3,129, 149, 149n, 150, 225, 240, 246; Vol. 4, 111, 111n.