LUDLOW, Peter, 1st Earl Ludlow [I] (1730-1803), of Ardsallagh, co. Meath and Great Stoughton, Hunts.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 21 Apr. 1730, o. surv. s. of Peter Ludlow of Ardsallagh by Mary, da. and h. of John Preston of Ardsallagh. m. 26 June 1753, Lady Frances Lumley Saunderson, da. of Thomas Lumley Saunderson, 3rd Earl of Scarbrough, 3s. 4da. suc. fa. 1750; cr. Baron Ludlow [I] 19 Dec. 1755; Earl Ludlow [I] 3 Oct. 1760.

Offices Held

Comptroller of the Household Apr. 1782-4; PC 10 Apr. 1782.


Ludlow was the Duke of Manchester’s protégé as Member for Huntingdonshire, where he was unopposed after 1768. He spent most of his parliamentary career in silent opposition, as a Rockingham and then a Portland Whig. He joined the Whig Club, 7 Mar. 1785, and Brooks’s, 6 Feb. 1786, sponsored by the Duke of Portland. He voted with opposition on the armament against Russia, 12 Apr. 1791, 1 Mar. 1792. In April 1791 he was also reckoned favourable to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland. In December 1792 he was added to a list of Portland Whigs in the duke’s own hand, but deleted in February following from Windham’s provisional list for a ‘third party’. He did not vote for parliamentary reform, 7 May 1793, as he had done in 1785. He resumed opposition by voting for Fox’s motion against war with France, 17 June 1793, further joining them in the divisions of 10, 18 and 24 Feb., 14 and 18 Mar., 8 and 10 Apr. and 30 May 1794.

On 24 Sept. 1794 Ludlow wrote to Earl Fitzwilliam, who was to be viceroy of Ireland:

I have never ... swerved from your lordship’s opinions, till this unfortunate war, which has unhappily divided the nearest relations, and dearest friends; in this, and this only (exclusive of my private sufferings) I cannot concur, in all else I am devoted to your lordship ... I need not tell your lordship how much narrowed my fortune is, by toiling for more than twenty years, not in the garden but the waste of opposition; indeed so much is it narrowed and so small are the settlements on my younger children, that I dread leaving them to such a pittance as £12,000 divided amongst five.

Fitzwilliam dismissed as ‘impossible’ his request for pensions of £200 each for his younger children on the Irish establishment.1 Ludlow again voted against the pursuit of the war, 30 Dec. 1794, 26 Jan., 5, 6 Feb., 24 Mar. and 27 May 1795. He then fled from his creditors to Ireland, whence he wrote to Portland, 17 Aug., to ask for a pension for his younger children or an honourable sinecure for his heir, as he was obliged to dispose of much of his Irish property. Portland in reply (16 Oct.) regretted that he had been unable to do anything for Ludlow, but hinted:

if the country where you happen to be could become the only theatre for your political, I should say parliamentary, conduct, it would seem to me that you might avoid every sort of embarrassment from the part you have taken in the politics of this country, and put yourself and family upon a ground which would greatly facilitate the attainment of the objects you have so naturally and so anxiously at heart. And lest this idea should make me liable of being suspected of the design of sending you into banishment, I must beg to remind you that a very occasional [?or] short attendance, supported by your proxy, would give you every claim that could be necessary for the purpose I have in view.2

Ludlow did not like this and Portland justified himself, 3 Jan. 1796. He had meant to convey

the best mode you could take ... without committing yourself or exposing yourself to the reproaches or even questions of a conscience however scrupulous upon account of any supposed deviation from those principles by which your public conduct had been constantly directed.

After explaining that the advent of war had converted him to support of Pitt, which was ‘exactly the point in which we are at issue’, Portland went on:

while this difference prevails, I should hope that you would see and admit as freely as I avow and as sincerely as I lament the impossibility of my applying the patronage of government to the gratification of a person whose conduct appears to me to tend to its overthrow and to the subversion of all social order. In my apprehension I could with more propriety have made an application of this sort for you when we were acting together in opposition than I could at this moment.3

There is no evidence that Ludlow attended the last session of the Parliament and at the dissolution he gave up his seat—a foregone conclusion. He was last heard of as a toast of the anti-Unionists in Ireland. Lady Fitzwilliam was informed that although his circumstances were ‘very bad indeed’, and despite his personal friendship with the viceroy Cornwallis, he could not be bought over to the Union:

he was offered his choice of a marquisate or an English peerage or to be ensured a seat in the Imperial Parliament, any office he chose, or if he preferred immediate emolument he might put his hand in the Treasury.

When Cornwallis pressed for an interview with Ludlow,

he refused to see him, refused all offers and added that if anything could add to his regret at the agitating so ruinous a measure it was its being done by Lord C. of whom he had so high an opinion and particularly as he had a thousand times said that he was sure nothing could have induced him to support any measure that must annihilate the liberties of the country.4

He died 26 Oct. 1803.


Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F27/49.
  • 2. Lansdowne mss, Jekyll to Landsdowne, Tues. [?1795]; Portland mss PwF6487-8.
  • 3. Portland mss PwV110.
  • 4. Fitzwilliam mss, box 197, letter to Lady Fitzwilliam dated Dublin 21 Jan.