George Washington's Rule, Rule #31 states:
|31st||If any one far Surpasses others, either in age, Estate, or Merit yet would give Place to a meaner than himself in his own lodging or elsewhere the one ought not to except it, So he on the other part should not use much earnestness nor offer it above once or twice.|
I believe "except" is an error on ol' George's part, and that the meaning intended would be the word "accept". I believe he is making the point that someone in a position of respect, one that "far surpasses others" in age, estate or merit (as would have been determined by the rules of the English aristocracy of the time) might deferentially defer honor people attempt to bestow upon him, but that you should not accept this effort. That individual, on the other hand, also should not attempt to push off the honor more than once or twice.
So if the group was trying to permit the honored individual to sit in the seat of honor, or to give him the best room at the inn they are stopping at, or whatever, he might say, "Oh, no! No! No!", but those around him should understand that he is just being polite and should insist and persist until the honored man accepts the fine honor they were attempting to bestow upon him.