Posts tagged Philip Ludwell III
Editor’s note: We’re extremely pleased to present another article by Nicholas Chapman, who continues to excavate the very earliest origins of Orthodoxy in America. To read more about Nicholas and his exciting research, check out the upcoming edition of the journal Road to Emmaus, which features a lengthy interview with Nicholas. Also, if you’re coming to our SOCHA symposium at Princeton later this month, you’ll have an opportunity to hear Nicholas present a 20-minute lecture on his work.
In my first article on Orthodoxy in Colonial Virginia published on this web site nearly two years ago, I mentioned in passing that the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church in Russia had retrospectively approved of Colonel Philip Ludwell III’s translation of the Orthodox Confession of Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev. At that time I was not aware that this translation was in fact published and distributed.
I cannot presently be certain at what exact time Ludwell made this translation, but it must have been some time between his conversion to Orthodoxy at the end of 1738 and his move to London in the summer of 1760. In any event the first edition was published in London, England in 1762 and during a visit to the British Library this past spring I was able to handle and read a copy of the original edition. Aside from the translation of the catechism itself it contains a preface by the translator (Ludwell) as well as a few other inserted details, all of which have much to tell us about the mind and intention of the man who may be America’s first convert to the Orthodox Faith.
The book is slim brown leather bound volume of some 209 pages, printed in black ink. It has on the spine Greek Church Orthodox Confession and London 1762. The front cover is marked only with a beautiful gold embossed crown. The title page contains the following (I was unable to make a digital copy so what follows is my copy typing of the original, leaving the mid eighteenth century English unchanged. If you remember to change that the letter f can be read, as s the meaning should be clear.) :
The Orthodox Confession of the Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church; Faithfully Translated from the Originals
Meditate upon thefe Things, give thyself wholly to them; ———-
Take heed unto thyfelf, and unto thy Doctrine; continue in them: For in fo doing thou fhalt fave thyfelf.——
1 Tim. Iv. 15. & 16.
Printed in A.D. MDCC LXII
As Moghila’s work seems to have originally been published in both Latin and Greek, the title page information seems to suggest that Ludwell had access to both texts in making his translation. The biblical quotations chosen by Ludwell seem to indicate that the purpose of the catechism is the salvation of the individual reader. The translator’s preface that follows on the next page reveals more fully Ludwell’s purpose and mission:
Devout Chriftian Reader.
Be pleafed to accept this Labour of Love, of thine unworthy Fellow-Servant; who mindful of the Command, “When thou art converted, ftrenghten “thy Brethren,” prefenteth, with all Humility, thefe his Endeavours, for thine Attainment of the Truth, and everlafting Salvation: And, in return, affift him with thy Prayers, to the Throne of Grace and Mercy; that, whilft he offereth Inftruction to others, he may fo take Heed unto himfelf, that he become not a Caft-away.
Thus faith the Lord, Stand ye in the Ways, and fee, and afk for the old Paths, where is the good Way, and walk therein, and ye fhall find Reft for your Souls.
Jerem. Vi. 16.
Unto you that fear my Name, fhall the Sun of Righteoufnefs arife with healing in his Wings. Mal. Iv. 2.
These words and quotations, although brief, clearly indicate an apostolic intention on the part of Ludwell, to reveal the fullness of the Orthodox Faith to his fellow British and British American countryman. At the same time he does not see them as being radically “other” but as fellow believers whose present understanding of the Faith needs to be strengthen by a return to the “old paths” which he understood to be found in the Orthodox Faith. As such he stands within the best tradition of Orthodox mission that seeks to recognize all that is good and of God in a culture and then to show how it may be completed within the Orthodox tradition.
I have not been able to ascertain how many copies of this original edition were published and how widely they were circulated. Clearly it did circulate. There is a fascinating article in the Scottish Review published in Paisley, Scotland in January 1892. The article is entitled Translated Greek Office Books. The author of this extensive article turns out to be no less than the Rev. Fr. Stephen Hatherly the late nineteenth century English convert to Orthodoxy who briefly attempted to start an Orthodox mission in New York in the 1880’s. (Click here for more information.) Hatherly writes as follows of Ludwell’s (aka Lodvel’s) work:
Another English writer on the subject of the Greek Church who preceded Dr. King is Col. Lodvel. The work attributed to him is one of the most important in the ample oriental ecclesiastical library. Dr. King alludes to the original of the work, and to three translation, though it publication had a ten years’ start of his book.
Here Hatherly is saying that Dr. King did not know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation. Dr. King was Dr. John Glen King D.D. who in 1764 had been appointed Chaplain of the English Factory in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1772, he published in London his opus magnum The Rites and Ceremonies of the Greek Church in Russia; containing an account of its Doctrine,Worship and Discipline. Hatherly says of this work that it is now a scarce book and is likely to become scarcer, being bought up on every opportunity at American account. (Emphasis mine.)
Having pointed out that King did not seem to know of Ludwell/Lodvel’s translation, Hatherly then reveals that he has in front of him a personally inscribed copy. He writes:
After the word ‘originals’ in the title page, there is, in a clear old fashioned handwriting, the addition, ‘of Nectarius, Patriarch of Jerusalem; Parthenius, Patriarch of Constantinople; and the catechism of Petr Mogilaw, Archbishop of Kiow. And afterwards, with a coarser pen, and inferior ink, ‘By Col. Lodvel, father to Mrs. Paradise.’
Did Hatherly make use of Ludwell’s work during his abortive Orthodox mission in the USA and how many copies had already crossed the Atlantic in the 120+ years preceding it? A quick search suggests that no original physical copies are held in any US library, but given the sturdy, handsomely bound volume I held in my hands this past April, I find it difficult to believe that more copies have not survived.
Copyright – Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, NY, September 11, 2011
Recently, Holy Cross Orthodox Press published the Atlas of American Orthodox Christian Churches, edited by Alexei D. Krindatch. I contributed several pieces to the Atlas, including the article “Ten Interesting Facts About the History of Orthodox Christianity in the USA.” With Alexei’s permission, we’ll publish excerpts from that article over the next couple of months. To purchase your own copy of the Atlas (for $19.95), click here.
1. The first American convert to Orthodoxy was an aristocrat in British Virginia who joined the Church in 1738.
Very recently, Orthodox researcher Nicholas Chapman made an astounding discovery: in 1738 – three years before Bering discovered Alaska for the Russian Empire – prominent Virginia aristocrat Philip Ludwell III traveled to London and was received into the Russian Orthodox Church. Ludwell lived in Williamsburg, Virginia; in fact, his home was the first to be restored by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. His grandfather had been the first British governor of the Carolinas, and his father a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Ludwell’s relatives include two U.S. Presidents and famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was Ludwell who, in 1753, gave a young George Washington his first commission in the British army. Ludwell attended the same Anglican parish as Thomas Jefferson, and his manservant was actually the father-in-law of Jefferson (and the father of Sally Hemings, Jefferson’s reputed mistress).
Ludwell became Orthodox when he was just 22 years old, and his reception into the Church was formally authorized by the Russian Holy Synod. Remarkably, the Synod also gave permission for Ludwell to bring a portion of the Eucharist back with him to Virginia. Ludwell was blessed to translate into English the famous “Confession” of Metropolitan Peter Moghila, and later, he made a fresh translation of the liturgy.
Despite living an ocean away from the nearest Orthodox church, Ludwell never left the faith, although he may have hidden his Orthodoxy from British authorities. He traveled to London rather often, and in 1762, he brought his three daughters to be chrismated. One of those daughters, Lucy, went on to marry a man named John Paradise, who was born in Thessaloniki to a Greek mother and an English father (who himself was Orthodox). John Paradise seems almost like a fictional character – a member of the great Royal Society, he hobnobbed with the intellectual elite of London. His friends included American founding fathers Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams. It was Paradise who taught Jefferson to read Greek, and in the middle of the Revolutionary War, Franklin arranged for Paradise to become a U.S. citizen – possibly the first naturalization in American history. Later, Paradise worked as a secret agent for the Russian Empire, administering a pro-Russian propaganda campaign in England. Empress Catherine the Great awarded Paradise a large pension as a reward for his service.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
On the latest episode of our American Orthodox History podcast, Nicholas Chapman recounts the almost incredible story of Orthodox Christianity in colonial Virginia. Last month, we published Nicholas’ first article on the subject. Below, he continues his series.
On July 4, 1789, after nearly five years of service, Thomas Jefferson was coming to the end of his time as US minister plenipotentiary to France. It was the eve of what would come to be known as the French revolution, but this did not prevent Jefferson from hosting a celebration to mark the recently won independence of the United States. The party was attended by many of Jefferson’s closest friends in Paris, including John Paradise, the son in law of Philip Ludwell III.
John Paradise was by any account a remarkable man: an extraordinarily gifted linguist with a talent for friendship which brought him into contact with almost all the great men of his day. English was probably only his seventh language and by all accounts he never spoke it well! He was, however, able to converse freely in Greek, Italian, Turkish and Arabic amongst others and almost certainly knew Russian. He used his gifts to teach Thomas Jefferson classical Greek whilst visiting him in Paris.
John Paradise was also an Orthodox Christian. His father, Peter Paradise, had been the British Consul in Salonika (Thessalonica) and his mother was half Greek. It is possible that his paternal grandfather was also both English and Orthodox, making John Paradise a third generation English Orthodox at the time of his birth at Salonika in April 1743. His father, Peter, had contacts with monks from Mt. Athos during his years in Salonika and it is not known whether it was these, or his marriage, that had brought him to the Church.
After his early years in Greece, John was sent to the University of Padua (modern day Italy) and ultimately to Oxford to complete his education. At some point in the 1760’s it seems that the Paradises met Philip Ludwell and his three daughters in London. On April 20, 1766 they are all recorded as partaking of the sacrament of Holy Communion at the Russian Orthodox Church in London. When Philip Ludwell III died less than a year later, Peter Paradise became one of the legal guardians of Ludwell’s three daughters. When Frances died less than a year after her father and Hannah (the eldest daughter) married in March 1769, Lucy Ludwell went to live at Peter Paradise’s London home. Barely two months later Lucy married Peter’s son John.
Philip Ludwell III’s London house was also a home for an extended Virginian family including three of his sister Hannah’s children: Alice, Arthur and William Lee. It was William who was to marry the eldest Ludwell daughter in March 1769. She was also his first cousin. Close to the Ludwell house in Cecil St. was the London home of Benjamin Franklin, who at that time was on his second extended visit to England. Franklin was one of the early members of the Royal Society, to which John Paradise would subsequently be elected. Philip Ludwell III was very proud of the inventive achievements of his fellow countryman and in 1762 commissioned a portrait of Franklin. This became Franklin’s preferred painting of himself.
Franklin was an intimate of the Ludwell household and on his return to America he sent his “best wishes to Miss Ludwell and the other ladies.” This familial contact with Franklin was to prove vital for John Paradise and Lucy Ludwell Paradise. The division of the Virginian estates of Philip Ludwell III after his death was to prove complex and made even more so by the outbreak of war between the American colonies and the British Empire. By that time Franklin was the first US minister plenipotentiary to France. In this capacity John and Lucy Ludwell Paradise visited him in Paris in 1779. Through his office John Paradise was to be granted US citizenship in October 1780, whilst the War of Independence was still raging. It can be said therefore that one of the first (and perhaps the first) naturalized American citizen was an Orthodox Christian, a member of the Russian Orthodox Church of mixed English and Greek ethnicity!
It was not until September of 1787 that John and Lucy Ludwell Paradise were finally able to travel to their estates in Virginia. During their time in America they were able to spend four days at Mt. Vernon with General George and Martha Washington. Washington’s diary for Sunday, December 30, 1787 records that at around eleven o’clock that day “Mr. Paradise and his Lady, lately from England but now of Williamsburgh , came in on a visit.” Sadly, we have no detail of the conversation that was exchanged during their stay, although it is known that Washington suspended the normal conduct of his affairs during their visit, which was not his normal practice. As John Paradise was on intimate terms with the two most important representatives of the United States overseas (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson) and personally acquainted with so many other persons of note, it is not difficult to think that Washington would have found his visit of immense interest.
Barely two months after their visit to Mt. Vernon, the Paradises were to receive the shocking news of the death of their daughter Philippa, aged only thirteen, in London. So it was, that shortly afterward, they were to return to London. Here it was that they met the newly appointed Russian priest, the Rev. Yakov Smirnov, who was to become Lucy’s cherished spiritual father. John Paradise was to work very closely with Fr. Smirnov is 1791 in a concerted public campaign to persuade British public opinion against war with Russia. For his service in this respect Paradise was awarded a pension of £150 p.a. by the Russian Empress Catherine the Great, a substantial sum for its time.
It also seems likely that Paradise recruited the assistance of Frederick North, the future Earl Guildford, whose father Lord North was British Prime Minister during the American War of Independence. The young North was secretly baptized as an Orthodox Christian in Corfu in 1791 and at the same time was composing and publishing sonnets in praise of Catherine the Great! When John Paradise died in 1795 he left Frederick North some of his most precious possessions, thereby indicating the closeness of the relationship they must have enjoyed during his lifetime.
I have only briefly skimmed the facts of John Paradise’s life and adventures here. There is more to be written. But it must be of considerable interest that a man who was clearly an active Orthodox Christians was on intimate terms with the first three Presidents of the United States. James Boswell in his famous “Life of Johnson” penned the best obituary of him. He wrote: “John Paradise (1743 1795). Son of the British Consul at Salonica and a native woman of that country. He was distinguished by his learning and a very general acquaintance with accomplished persons of almost all nations” (Boswell’s Life of Johnson, vol. IV, p. 364, note 2).
Nicholas Chapman, Yonkers, NY, December 14, 2009
A note from Matthew Namee: What follows is a first glimpse of what is, I am confident, the most exciting research currently being done on the subject of American Orthodox history. As I’ve been telling others, my own research is pretty interesting stuff, but Nicholas Chapman’s work blows mine out of the water. Nicholas is a native of England, but he now lives in New York, where he works for the presses of both St. Vladimir’s and Holy Trinity (Jordanville) seminaries. I hope to interview Nicholas for my American Orthodox History podcast in the near future, and his article below is only the first of many.
It will come as a surprise to many, if not all Orthodox Christians in America, to learn that the story of their Church here begins not in 1794 but in 1738. Not in Russian Alaska, but rather British Virginia. Furthermore, what began in 1738 was not a mere blip on the radar, a passing moment of no historical import. Otherwise, how could it be that the daughter of a man described as “renowned in early Virginia history “(Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello) would write to President Thomas Jefferson early in his second term of office (Aug 27, 1805) “With the blessing of God I am now in good health, and with my priest’s blessing and command who is the Rev. Mr. Smirnov.”
Where does this story begin and who are its principal characters? Where are there descendants today and what became of their heritage of Orthodox faith and life that lasted for at least sixty/seventy years? My early research is only beginning to answer some of these questions, whilst posing many more.
Let’s begin with Colonel Philip Ludwell III, a third generation Virginian. He was the man who in 1753 gave George Washington his commission in the army and they exchanged frequent correspondence. Ludwell was a cousin of Washington’s wife, Martha. He was also a relative of Confederate General Robert E Lee and Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, amongst many other distinguished figures of American history. His grandfather, Philip Ludwell I was the first British Governor of the Carolinas and his father, Philip Ludwell II a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and Rector of the College of William and Mary. (The second oldest college in the USA and its first University.) Ludwell’s English manservant, John Wayles, was the father in law of Thomas Jefferson and the father of Jefferson’s African American mistress, Sally Hemings!
When, where and why did Colonel Philip Ludwell become Orthodox? He was received in the Russian Orthodox Church in London, on December 31, 1738 (Old style) by Fr. Bartholomew Cassano, a half French, Alexandrian Greek whose wife Elizabeth (nee Burton) is one of the first recorded English converts to Orthodoxy. Ludwell would have been twenty-two years old at the time. His reception was authorised at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia, who blessed him to take the Holy Gifts back to Virginia and which approved of his translation into English of the “Orthodox Confession” written by Peter Moghila, Metropolitan of Kiev, one hundred years earlier. They also granted him a dispensation to continue attending the Anglican church in Virginia, taking into account his position as “an important Royal official” and recognising that “apart from the Province of Pennsylvania, all religions but Protestantism are banned.”
His extensive business interests seem to have led him to travel frequently between Virginia and London. The London parish register documents his participation in the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion on twelve occasions between August 5 1760 and his death on March 14, 1767. (This is very frequent by the standards of the time when once a year communion was the norm.) On April 3, 1762 (Holy Wednesday) he brought his three daughters to be chrismated and somewhat unusually also stood as their sponsor.
His health began to fail him during 1766 and the register records that on Sunday, September 17, 1766, “The sick Philip Ludwell received Holy Communion in his house during the day.” On February 22, 1767 it states “the sick Mr. Philip Ludwell confessed and received Holy Communion, and was anointed with oil at his home.” Shortly thereafter on March 14, 1767 “Philip Ludwell died at five o’clock in the afternoon” and that the following day the “Canon after the departure of the soul from the body” was read at the church. On March 19, 1767 (the fourth day of Great Lent) his funeral took place. On March 22,1767 he was buried in the crypt of the church of St. Mary Bow. (A small Anglican Church to the east of the City of London, which at that time was a distinct village apart from the city.)
Another hint of the intensity of Ludwell’s commitment to the Church is found in Edward L Bond’s 2004 work Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia. Writing in the context of what Bond describes as “Private devotional exercise common among some of Virginia’s elite gentleman” he states that “Philip Ludwell III transcribed from the Greek his own translation of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom “The Divine and Holy Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom as it is performed without a Deacon.” ” Did Ludwell’s so called “private devotion” set him on a path to Orthodoxy? Perhaps it is so.
For now, I have only one clear statement, which is found in a letter written in 1791 by the Russian Ambassador in London, Count Vorontsov to his brother Alexander in St. Petersburg. The relevant passage is actually focusing on John Paradise (of whom there is much more to say.) Vorontsov writes “By a strange coincidence an Englishman, a friend of his (i.e. Paradise’s) father’s, who had some property in Virginia, took it into his head to read in the original all the Fathers of the Church and become convinced that our religion was the only true one; he forsook his own to study it and brought up his only daughter who afterwards married my friend Mr. Paradise.”
As mentioned previously, Ludwell in fact had three daughters, but only one was alive in 1791 and known to Count Vorontsov. All three daughters had been baptized as Orthodox Christians and at least one (Lucy who wrote to Jefferson in 1805) was married in the Church. In my next articles I will turn to their stories and those of the men they married.
Nicholas Chapman, Herkimer, NY, Nov 11, 2009