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Philip Ludwell Sr.

Member From: 1697 - 1697

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  • Birth Date: 1637-38 Birth Place:Bruton, Somersetshire
  • Death Date: ca. 1716
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
  • Spouse: Lucy Higginson; Frances Berkeley
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  • Additional Info: ​Philip Ludwell JR (Jamestown 1696-1697 p56) 1688 (Ludwell, "..being a suspended councillor, was not allowed to take his seat;" Daniel Parke was elected in his place,) 1695-99
  • Bio: PHILIP LUDWELL SR. was Speaker of the House of Burgesses at the assembly of 1695-1696. Speaker Ludwell was one of Virginia’ prominent leaders in the last quarter of the seventeenth century and one of the most influential members of the Green Spring faction.
    Philip Ludwell, Sr., was born at Bruton, Somersetshire, in 1637 or 1638 and came to Virginia about 1660 as a headright of his eldest brother, Secretary Thomas Ludwell. He worked in the secretary’s office from 1661 to 1665, and in 1667 patented 200 acres of land in Rappahannock County. That same year he married Lucy Higginson, a wealthy widow, and by 1673 he owned several thousand acres. On 3 March 1675, he joined the Council, where he served as deputy secretary from 1675 to 1677 while his brother was in England seeking a charter for the colony. In November 1675 Lucy died, and in 1680 Ludwell married Governor Sir William Berkeley’s widow, Frances.
    During Bacon’s Rebellion, Ludwell was ‘’one that was constantly in the Governor’s service, and was not onely plundered in his owne Personall Estate, but also of the Estate of an Orphan’s committed to his Trust.” Two years after the rebellion William Sherwood reported that Lady Berkeley, Philip Ludwell, Sr., Thomas Ballard, Edward Hill, Jr., Robert Beverley Sr., and Secretary Thomas Ludwell were the chief ‘’discontented persons … who endeavor to bring a contempt upon Col. Jeffreys.” One evening early in 1678, after loosening his tongue with hard cider, Ludwell called Lieutenant Governor Herbert Jeffreys ''a pitiful little fellow with a Perriwig, who had done nothing but injustice since his arrival.'' He said that ''Jeffries was a worse Rebel than Bacon for that he had broke the Laws of this Country which Bacon never did," and that ''Jeffreys was not worth a Groat in England and that he had better Friends at Court.'' Jeffreys recently had removed Ludwell from the lucrative office of collector for the York River customs district, and when he learned of Ludwell's remarks he prosecuted Ludwell in "a private court at James City the 26th of March 1678." The court decided that Ludwell's words were scandalous and impaneled a jury that heard "the Evidences thereunto relating." The jury "found the said Colonel Ludwell had scandalized the Governor.'' On 29 March 1678, the Council decided to communicate its proceedings to the Privy Council in England, asking for ''advise of punishment proportionable to the Offence." Ludwell, however, "appealed to the grand Assembly of his Majesty's Colony,'' where he expected more sympathetic treatment than he had received from the Council. On this point the Council also resolved that, although there was “no President to the Contrary,” they needed guidance from the Privy Council.
    When the matter came to its attention, the Privy Council declined to reinstate Ludwell as a councillor and instructed the new governor, Thomas Culpeper, baron Culpeper of Thoresway, to discontinue the practice of allowing appeals from the General Court to the General Assembly. Culpeper, however, had been authorized to delay the application of his instructions for six months after his arrival in Virginia, and he chose to appoint Ludwell to the Council when a vacancy occurred.
    From 1680 to 1686 Speaker Ludwell remained on the Council without provoking a major incident, but when the House of Burgesses protested Governor Effingham’s imposition of a fee for passing documents under the colony seal, Ludwell suggested that the Council agree to address the king. Effingham flew into “a Great Rage” and eventually arranged to suspend Ludwell from the Council on 2 February 1688. The electorate of James City County promptly elected Ludwell to the House of Burgesses for the assembly of 1688, just as Thomas Ballard had entered the House in 1680. Effingham claimed that Ludwell was a suspended councilor, however, and he was declared ineligible to sit in the House, whereupon the burgesses sent Ludwell to England bearing their petition of grievances. Although he was not returned to the Virginia Council of State, in 1689 the proprietors of Carolina appointed him to govern their colony. Ludwell held that post until 1694 when he returned to Virginia. In September 1694 he supervised the preparation of an “Alphabeticall Abridgement of the Laws of Virginia.”
    The James City County electorate sent him to the House of Burgesses at their first opportunity, in April 1695. Governor Andros was ready to challenge Ludwell’s election. On the day before the assembly of 1695-1696 began, Adros told the Council “that he was informed that Colonel Phillip Ludwell late One of the Councill and Reputed Governor of Carolina was Elected on of the Burgesses for James City County,” and he “demanded the Opinion of the Board whether he was Proper for the Station and Service, Who are of the Opinion he is not to be Obstructed.”
    The next day, 19 April 1695, Ludwell won the Speakership over five other candidates, whose names were not recorded but who probably included Robert Carter, John Custis, and William Randolph I. Speaker Ludwell also presided over the assembly’s second session in April 1696, but he was not elected to the assembly of 1696-1697, when he may have been in England. If so, he had returned prior to the short assembly of 1698, in which he represented James City County and probably was among the five nominees for Speaker. Named as chairman of the committee on propositions and grievances, Ludwell also chaired the committee of the whole House when it debated the governor’s speech.
    Speaker Ludwell last was elected to the House of Burgesses for the assembly of 1699, when again he chaired the committee on propositions and grievances. The General Assembly also named Ludwell and Thomas Ballard as the two burgesses among ten “directors appointed for the settlement and encouragement of the city of Williamsburg.”
    Ludwell probably returned to England about 1700. Governor Nicholson recommended his son Philip Ludwell, Jr., to the Council in July 1699 and May 1700; he was commissioned by Queen Anne on 21 May 1702, and first attended the 19 March 1703 meeting. Speaker Ludwell spent his remaininig years in England, where he wrote letters to keep his son abreast of politics and to offer advice to him and the “rest of the Council.” In his last extant letter, from London on 7 May 1714, Ludwell told his son that he was “much out of order with my vexatious cough” and added a warning to William Byrd II that smallpox was prevalent. By March 1717 he had died.
  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1695-96
    Member of the Council of State: 1675 - 1679; 1680 - 1687
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1688 James City County
1695-1696 James City County Speaker of the House
1696-1697 Jamestown
1698 James City County Propositions and Grievances (Chair)
1699 James City County Propositions and Grievances (Chair)

*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at history@house.virginia.gov.

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