Philip Ludwell III

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Colonel Philip Ludwell III was a Virginian who in the mid eighteenth century lived in colonial America. He was received into Orthodoxy in London, England. His conversion represented one of the earliest examples of the presence of Orthodox Christians in what is now the United States of America.

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Philip Ludwell III was born on December 28, 1716 in Carter's Creek, Surrey, Virginia.[1] He was a third generation Virginian whose grandfather, Philip Ludwell I, was the first governor of the Carolinas and father, Philip Ludwell II, was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses as well as rector of the College of William and Mary. He married Frances Grymes on July 29, 1737 in Surrey county, Virginia. [2]

In the year following his marriage, the young Ludwell traveled from Williamsburg to London, England. While in England, he was received into the Orthodox Church by Fr. Bartholomew Cassano of the Russian Orthodox Church in London on January 11, 1738.

Born of an impressive political heritage in Virginia, Ludwell was involved in the government of the colony. He was appointed to the Virginia Council in 1752. As a member of the Council he was instrumental in obtaining a commission for a young George Washington as a Colonel in the Virginia militia in 1755. He was a cousin of Martha Washington and was related to Robert E. Lee and the two President Harrisons.

The Holy Synod of the Church of Russia authorized his reception into the Orthodox Church and blessed his taking the Holy Gifts back to Virginia. The Synod also approved his translation into English of the “Orthodox Confession” that was written by Peter Mogila, Metropolitan of Kiev, one hundred years earlier. The Synod also granted him a dispensation to continue attending the Anglican church in Virginia.

By 1751 Ludwell had three daughters: Hannah, Frances, and Lucy. In 1753 his wife Frances died.

In 1760 he moved with his daughters to London where they were received into the Orthodox Church on Holy Wednesday, 1762. The London parish register documents his participating in the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion on twelve occasions between August 16, 1760 and his death. On April 14, 1762, he brought his three daughters to be chrismated, and he also stood as their sponsor.

Col. Ludwell's health began to fail him during 1766. On September 28, 1766, Philip Ludwell received Holy Communion in his house. On March 5, 1767, the ailing Philip confessed, received Communion, and was anointed with oil at his home. Philip died on March 25, 1767 in London, Middlesex, England and was buried in the crypt of the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, in the Stratford area of London.

In 2015, a nonprofit corporation named the Associates of Colonel Philip Ludwell III, Inc. was formed in Ludwell's native state of Virginia to further the research, preservation, and communication of the history of early America centering on the life, community, and worldview of Colonel Philip Ludwell III.


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