The following individuals served as the pallbearers at George Washington's funeral:
Colonel Charles Little
The son of Andrew Little and Christian Murray, Colonel Charles Little was born in Dumfrieshire, Scotland in 1714 and immigrated to Virginia with his two brothers in 1768. Little was a cousin of John Carlyle, who was one of the most influential citizens in Alexandria, Virginia at the time.
Little served in the Revolutionary War as an officer in the Virginia Continental line. As a colonel of the militia from Fairfax County, he later took part putting down the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania in 1794. Four years later, as part of the Fourth of July festivities in Alexandria, Colonel Little acted as George Washington's aide for a review of the militia on King Street. Little was one of three men who testified at the Court House in Fairfax to authenticate Washington's signature while the ex-President's will was being probated.
Little was married to Mary Manley, the sister of Penelope Manley French, the neighbor from whom George Washington rented forty slaves at the end of his life. George Washington spent the night at the Little's home on April 29, 1799, when he was surveying a 1,200 acre parcel of land he owned on Four Mile Run. A member of the old Presbyterian Church on Fairfax Street, Little died at his home Denbeigh in 1813.1
Colonel Charles Simms
Born in Prince William County, Virginia in 1755, Charles Simms studied law in Fredericksburg as a young man. Colonel Simms served with Captain Wood's Independent Company, when they were called up in 1774 by Governor Dunmore to fight against Native Americans on the Ohio River. Simms volunteered at the start of the Revolution and began as an aide to General Mercer.
After several years advancing in rank within the army, Simms resigned for personal reasons and returned to Virginia to practice law. Like George Washington, Simms was one of the founders of the Society of the Cincinnati and a member of the Potomac Company. At various times in the 1770s, 1780s, and 1790s, he represented West Augusta and Fairfax Counties in the House of Delegates. Further, Simms was a delegate to the Virginia convention in 1788, voting on the adoption of the Federal Constitution.
Simms served as a captain in the Associated Company, a Fairfax County military unit in 1798, as collector of the port of Alexandria, and succeeded William Herbert as mayor in 1813. He was serving as mayor when the city was captured by the British in August of 1814, during the War of 1812. Colonel Simms' tombstone survives, which notes that he was "a friend of Genl Washington."
Colonel Simms visited Mount Vernon for dinner on numerous occasions and once spent the night. He also had business dealings with George Washington.2
Colonel William Payne
In the 1760s, following the French and Indian War, Colonel Payne was responsible for the care of the poor in the parish covered by Christ Church in Alexandria. In the early 1780s, he served as Collector of Taxes for the city of Alexandria.3
Prior to the Revolution, George Washington was once asked by the Alexandria Court to assist in settling a case between William Payne and Francis Dade; the latter was eventually forced to give Payne 992 pounds of tobacco, plus costs.4
Colonel George Gilpin
George Gilpin was born in 1740 in Cecil County, Maryland, the youngest son of Samuel and Jane Gilpin. Gilpin moved to Alexandria before the Revolutionary War, where he worked as a wheat merchant and served on the Fairfax County Committee of Safety in 1774. The following year he was named Alexandria's inspector of flour.
During the Revolutionary War, Gilpin became a colonel in a regiment of Fairfax County militia in July of 1775. Gilpin accompanied George Washington to Dorchester Heights as an aide, and stayed with him as they fought through New Jersey and at the Battle of Germantown.
After the war Gilpin returned to Alexandria and held a number of prominent positions, including Commissioner for paving & grading the streets, a directorship of the Potomac Company, judge of the Orphans' Court (1800), and Postmaster of Alexandria (1809). In addition, Gilpin served as one of the commissioners negotiating the interstate controversies concerning the Potomac River in 1785. Like George Washington, Gilpin was a member of the Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge and took an active role in the Potomac Company. Gilpin also served as a vestryman at Christ Church.
Colonel Gilpin visited Mount Vernon frequently both as a dinner guest and on business, and George Washington dined and spent the night at Gilpin's home on several occasions. Gilpin also loaned Washington a scow (a large flat-bottomed boat with square ends) in November of 1785, to collect mud from the Potomac as an experimental fertilizer.5 He died in 1813.
Colonel Dennis Ramsay
Born in Alexandria, VA, the son of William and Ann McCarty Ball Ramsay, Dennis Ramsay began his military service in the Revolution as a captain in the Virginia Continental line, rising to the rank of colonel by the end of the war. Ramsay started in business in Alexandria with the firm of Jenifer & Hooe and became the mayor of Alexandria in 1788. Ramsay delivered an address to George Washington when the soon-to-be president stopped in the city on the way to New York for his inauguration.
In April of 1785, George Washington attended the funeral of Colonel Ramsay's mother, a distant relative of George Washington's mother, Mary Ball Washington. Ramsay was a dinner guest at Mount Vernon several times and hosted a party from Mount Vernon during the races in Alexandria in October of 1785.6 Ramsay attended the funeral lodge for George Washington on December 16, 1799.
Colonel Philip Marsteller
Born in 1742 in modern day Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, Philip Marsteller was the son of German immigrants Frederick Ludwig Marsteller and his wife Barbara. During the American Revolution, Marsteller assisted in raising troops, attended the Continental Congress in 1776, and served as a lieutenant colonel in the 1st Battalion of Lancaster County militia. He also held several other prominent positions during the war, including paymaster and agent overseeing the purchase of flour for the French fleet in 1779.
As assistant forage master in 1780, Marsteller received a letter of thanks from George Washington. After the war, Marsteller moved to Alexandria, Virginia, where he and his son became merchants and auctioneers. Marsteller was elected mayor of Alexandria in 1791.
Philip Marsteller and George Washington were friends and conducted business together for many years. It was through Marsteller's assistance in 1786 that Washington acquired the services of the Overdonck family, who were indentured servants from Germany. The only one of Washington's honorary pallbearers who was not a Mason, Marsteller was joined at Washington's funeral by his son, Philip Marsteller, Jr., and his grandson, Samuel A. Marsteller. Shortly before his own death, Marsteller acquired a set of pistols that had once belonged to George Washington. Philip Marsteller died at home in 1804 and was buried in the yard of Christ Church.7
1. The Diaries of George Washington, eds. Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, Vol. 4, 275n; Vol. 6, 304n-305n, 345.
2. Mary C. Powell, The History of Old Alexandria, Virginia (Richmond: William Byrd Press, 1928), 91, 94, 259-260; The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 4, 123n, Vol. 5:19, 38, 41, 43, 152, 187-8, 220, 247, 414, 414n; Vol. 6, 303, 307, 313, 357.
3. Powell, 43, 53, 87, 161.
4. The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 2, 128n.
5. Powell, 203-4; The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 4, 141n, 147, 195, 217, 219, 243, 319, 329, 347; Vol. 5, 2, 3, 122, 189, 227, 248, 270, 324, 357, 390, 443; Vol. 6, 258.
6. Powell, 67, 196-197; The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 2, 166n; Vol. 4, 113, 113n, 195, 195n, 202, 210; Vol. 5, 16, 187-188, 247, 292, 428-429; Vol. 6, 307, 359.
7. Powell, 205-206; The Diaries of George Washington, Vol. 5, 70.