LUDLOW, Edmund (c.1617-92), of South Court, Maiden Bradley, Wilts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



12 May 1646
3 May - 18 May 1660

Family and Education

b. c.1617, 1st s. of Sir Henry Ludlow of Maiden Bradley by Elizabeth, da. and coh. of Richard Phelips of Winterbourne Whitchurch, Dorset. educ. Blandford g.s.; Trinity, Oxf. matric. 10 Sept. 1634, eged 17, BA 1636; I. Temple 1637-42. m. c.1649, Elizabeth, da. of William Thomas of Wenvoe, Glam., s.p. suc. fa. 1643.

Offices Held

Cuirassier, lord general’s life gd. (parliamentary) 1642-3; capt. of horse 1643-4, maj. 1644, col. 1644-5; gov. Wardour Castle 1644; lt.-gen. of horse [I] 1650-5; c.-in-c. [I] 1659-Jan. 1660.

Commr. for executing ordinances, Wilts. 1644, defence 1644, assessment 1644-52, 1657, Jan. 1660; sheriff 1644-5; j.p. Wilts. 1646-Mar. 1660, Mdx. 1649-?51; commr. for militia, Westminster 1649, Wilts. 1659.

Commr. for exclusion from sacrament 1646, scandalous offences 1648, high court of justice 1649; Councillor of State 1649-51, May-Dec. 1659; commr. for civil affairs [I] 1650-4, adventurers [I] 1654, army Oct.-Dec. 1659.


Ludlow’s family was founded by a Lancastrian household official who acquired property in Wiltshire about the middle of the 15th century and sat for Ludgershall in six Parliaments. They later acquired an evil reputation as encroaching landlords. Ludlow’s father, a younger son, inherited little freehold land besides the small manor of Yarnfield, holding South Court on a lease for lives from the Devonshire Seymours. Both father and son were extreme opponents of the Stuarts, but Ludlow, though a regicide and a religious experimentalist, was almost as hostile to the Protectorate. He bought the manor of East Knoyle (in which Hindon was comprised) at the sale of capitular lands in 1650, and represented the borough in Richard Cromwell’s Parliament. He was made commander-in-chief in Ireland by the Rump in 1659, but accepted Lambert’s military regime. He refused to sit in the Long Parliament after the return of the secluded Members.1

When the Long Parliament dissolved itself Ludlow ‘resolved to repair into the country, as well to withdraw myself from under the eyes of those in power, as for the raising of what moneys I could among my tenants’. He had agreed with Edward Bayntun I to oppose Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, ‘who had now most clearly discovered himself to be what I always suspected him to be’, in the Wiltshire election; but Bayntun desisted before he arrived. He concealed himself in lodgings in Salisbury, but not so effectively as to prevent a report that he had been elected for the city, rather through fear than love, it was suggested. At East Knoyle ‘I found the present tenants do dally with me, reserving the day of payment to half a year after, in which time they hoped to have another landlord more agreeable to their temper’. But by the generality of the electors at Hindon he was received with ‘much affection and heartiness’, and assured that Edward Seymour (who in any case was ineligible as a Cavalier’s son under the Long Parliament ordinance) ‘would not desire their voices in case I would serve for them’. He did not dare appear at the election; but he was told that ‘of about twenty-six who had any right to give voices, nineteen appeared for me’. The bailiff accordingly returned Ludlow with George Grobham Howe, who was unopposed; but the agents of (Sir) Thomas Thynne II, ‘making up in quantity what they wanted in quality’, procured enough subscription among the rabble to furnish a plausible double return. When John Lambert escaped from the Tower Ludlow told his emissary that he was ‘not free to engage against others till we agreed for what’, and discovered that ‘the Lord had deprived me at present of an opportunity of appearing in the field, or indeed of being any way active for him’.2

On 3 May Edward Turnor reported that Ludlow ought to sit on the merits of the return. But only the weight and influence of Arthur Annesley and Matthew Hale could persuade the House, in the name of justice, to accept the report, and he was ordered to attend within a week. Ludlow, who was now in hiding at a friend’s house in Holborn, was quickly informed of these resolutions, and on Annesley’s advice took his seat on 5 May, immediately withdrawing into the Speaker’s chamber, possibly by prior arrangement, since Sir Harbottle Grimston was Howe’s father-in-law. He received good advice about his conduct from Robert Harley I and John Maynard I; but Richard Norton and John Swinfen reproached him for the ‘paring and straitening’ of the Parliamentarian party, which had brought it to its present condition, and even the absent-minded Sir George Booth, having saluted him very civilly on his first entrance, ‘bent his brows’ on him. He remained with Cooper in the Speaker’s chamber during the ballot for messengers to the King, being ‘resolved to have no hand in the setting up of this exploded idol’, but attended the elections committee in the afternoon. This appears to have been his only attempt to perform his parliamentary duties in the Convention. On 18 May he was unseated on the merits of the election.

Ludlow was among the regicides excepted from pardon by the resolution of 9 June, in which it was declared that they should not be subject to the death penalty. He surrendered himself to the Speaker on 20 June, and on the following day the House ordered that he should remain in the custody of the serjeant-at-arms. Annesley, finding Ludlow unrepentant, washed his hands of the obstinate regicide, but he still had many friends in the House. The Hon. James Herbert stood security for Ludlow, who ensured that he should suffer no loss by substituting four men of straw, since he had no intention of remaining in England any longer than it took to settle his affairs. Warned by Francis Swanton and Henry Henley that as soon as the bill was passed he would be committed to the Tower, he took ship and arrived in France about the middle of August. In 1662 he moved to Vevey, in the canton of Lausanne, where, with one brief interval, he was to reside for the remainder of his life. Though all his property in England had been forfeited, he was well supplied with funds on his wife’s account. In the early years of the Restoration, his name was constantly mentioned in connexion with republican plots, and he contemplated taking service with the Dutch in 1665; but inaction had become second nature to him, and he never went further afield than Lyon. The daring Colonel Blood, hoping to entice him into activity, ‘found him very unable for such an employment, only that he was writing a history (as he called it) which he told the Colonel would be as true as the gospel’. Since the discovery of part of his manuscript at Warwick Castle, it has been recognized that the Memoirs published in 1698-9 were unscrupulously, though skilfully, edited to minimize the apocalyptic element. But as a valuable source for local history during the Civil War, for the kaleidoscopic politics of 1659-60, and above all for their unconscious revelation of the author’s personality and the impracticability of the republican doctrinaires, they have always been highly regarded. In August 1689 Ludlow reappeared in England, to the consternation of Seymour, who feared that the forfeiture of his estates might be reversed. On 6 Nov. Seymour’s brother-in-law (Sir) Joseph Tredenham moved for an address to the King to issue a proclamation for his expulsion. Nobody spoke in Ludlow’s defence, though Whigs like Sir John Guise, John Hawles and John Birch sought to delay the vote by technicalities and buffoonery. Without waiting for the proclamation, Ludlow quietly withdrew to Holland, and thence to Vevey, where he died in November 1692.3

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Authors: M. W. Helms / John. P. Ferris


This biography is based on Sir Charles Firth’s edition of the Ludlow Mems. and A Voyce from the Watch Tower (Cam. Soc. ser. 4, xxi).

  • 1. Hoare, Wilts. Mere 136*, Heytesbury 16; VCH Wilts. iv. 46; Keeler, Long Parl. 260-1; S. Gale, Cathedral of Winchester, 23.
  • 2. Cal. Cl. SP, iv. 628.
  • 3. CJ, viii. 61, 70; CSP Dom. 1676-7, p. 577; Grey, ix. 397-8.