First Families of Virginia – The Ludwells

The Ludwell family had arguably more impact upon Virginia’s foundations in the shortest amount of time. In just over a century three Philip Ludwells stood atop Virginia’s power structure, and then because of no male heirs, the name vanished in all but first and middle names used by other First Family relatives.

They hailed from Bruton, Somersetshire, England, the same area as Governor William Berkeley. In fact, they were most likely related to the powerful 17th Century Colonial leader, which appears to have aided the Ludwells from the very beginning.

Thomas Ludwell served in the Cavalier army during the English Civil War alongside Governor Berkeley’s brother John. John Berkeley recommended Thomas to become Virginia’s Colonial Secretary of State as a reward for his service to the Crown, and Charles II obliged. Thus, Thomas moved to Virginia. Philip, Thomas’s youngest brother, tagged along, and together they planted the Ludwell name firmly in Virginia’s history.



  1. Billings, Warren M.; Selby, John E.; and Tate, Thad W. Colonial Virginia: A History. White Plains, NY: KTO Press. 1986.
  2. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Press, 2004.
  3. Billings, Warren. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, VA: Library of Virginia, 2004.
  4. Browne, John. The Story of Ravensworth: a History of the Ravensworth Landgrant in Fairfax County, Virginia. 2018.
  5. Bruce, Phillip Alexander. Social Life of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Planting Class. New York: JP Bell Company, 1927.
  6. Dabney, Virginius. Virginia: The New Dominion, A History from 1607 to the Present. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1971.
  7. Dimmick, Jesse. “Green Spring.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 2, 1929, pp. 129–130. JSTOR,
  8. Evans, Emory G. A “Topping People”: The Rise and Decline of Virginia’s Old Political Elite, 1680-1790. Charlottesville, VA: UVA Press, 2009.
  9. Fischer, David Hackett. Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America (America: a cultural history). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
  10. Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribners, 1957. (Specifically Volume 1).
  11. Horn, James. Adapting to A New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  12. Mapp, Alfred J. Virginia Experiment: The Old Dominion’s Role in the Making of America, 1607-1781Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 2006.
  13. McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers: A Biographical Dictionary, 1607-1635. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007.
  14. Meade, William. Old Churches, Ministers and Families of Virginia. in Two Volumes. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1891.
  15. Neill, Edward D. Virginia Carolorum: The Colony under the Rule of Charles The First and Second, A.D. 1625-A.D. 1685. Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s and Sons, 1886.
  16. Parker, Mattie Erma E. “Philip Ludwell” Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 Vol’s. Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1991. Accessed from
  17. Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families, 4 Volumes. Lynchburg, VA:  J.P. Bell Company, 1907.
  18. Virginia B. Price. “Constructing to Command: Rivalries between Green Spring and the Governor’s Palace, 1677-1722.” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 113, no. 1, 2005, pp. 2–45. JSTOR,
  19. Rothbard, Murray N. Conceived in Liberty. Auburn, AL: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 1999.
  20. Shuffler, R. Henderson. “Decimus Et Ultimus Barziza.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, vol. 66, no. 4, 1963, pp. 501–512. JSTOR,
  21. Tyler, Lyon Gardiner. The Cradle of the Republic: Jamestown and the James River. Richmond, VA: The Hermitage Press, 1906.
  22. Walsh, Lorena S. Motives of Honor, Pleasure, and Profit: Plantation Management in the Colonial Chesapeake, 1607-1763. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  23. Washburn, Wilcomb E. Virginia Under Charles I and Cromwell 1625-1660. Kindle Edition.
  24. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. Virginia Under the Stuarts: 1607-1688. New York: Russell and Russell, 1959.
  25. Wertenbaker, Thomas Jefferson. The Planters of Colonial Virginia. Kindle Edition.
  26. Wright, Louis B. First Gentlemen of Virginia. Charlottesville, VA: Dominion Books, 1982.
  27. “Ludwell Family.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 4, 1911, pp. 295–295. JSTOR,
  28. “Ludwell Family.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 3, 1911, pp. 199–214. JSTOR,


All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The Featured Image is of Philip Ludwell Sr’s Crest. Greenspring Plantation is from Green Spring Plantation as seen by Benjamin Latrobe during the plantation’s Ludwell ownership. The Ludwell Paradise House is from Virginia Places.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on Apple Music, and “Roots” by The Arcadian Wild also available on Apple Music.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s