Charles Simms – Continental Army Officer – Virginia


Charles Simms (1755–1819) was a lawyer and public official from Virginia.

He was born in 1755 in Prince William County, Virginia, the son of Jane Glascock Purcell and John Simms. He was studying law at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War and on 12 November 1776 became a major of the 12th Virginia Regiment. On 29 September 1777 he became a Lieutenant-Colonel of the 6th Virginia. He transferred to the 2nd Virginia on 14 September 1778, and resigned as a colonel on 7 December 1779. Because of his service he was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati.

After the war Simms practiced law in Alexandria, Virginia. He represented Fairfax County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1785, 1786, 1792, and 1796, and was a delegate in the Virginia Ratifying Convention in 1788 that ratified the United States Constitution. He served on the committee that recommended amendments to the Constitution. In 1799, he successfully defended a land claim in the United States Supreme Court case Irvine v. Sims’s Lessee; his last name was misspelled in the official court records.

While serving as mayor of Alexandria in 1814 he surrendered the town to the British. While censured for his actions he was later exonerated.

During the course of his adult life he was a Mason as well as an acquaintance and associate of President George Washington. Simms served as a pall bearer at Washington’s funeral along with Dennis Ramsay, William Payne, George Gilpin, Philip Marsteller and Charles Little. All were colonels in the Revolution and had served Washington. They also were all Masons and all but one were members of the Masonic Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22.

Col. Simms married Nancy Ann Douglass, daughter of Major William Douglass and Catherine Van Buskirk, on 15 Dec 1778 in Trenton, New Jersey. To this marriage were born eight children. Simms died on 29 Aug 1819 in Alexandria, Virginia, and was buried with military and Masonic honors on 31 Aug 1819. He is buried at Christ Church (Alexandria, Virginia) Cemetery, Alexandria.