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Full text of "Roger Ludlowe; and historical sketch prepared by John H. Perry, for his associates in the Fairfield historical society at the observance of the two hundred and seventy fifth anniversary of the founding of the town, 1914"

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Roger Ludlowe 

An Historical Sketch 
prepared by 

John H. Perry 

For his Associates in the Fairfield Historical Society at the 

Observance of the Two Hundred and Seventy Fifth 

Anniversary of the Founding of the Town 


Published by the Fairfield Historical Society 
Press of the Bridgeport Standard 


0£C 22 1314 


John H. Perry 

A quarter of a milleniiim and almost exactly a quarter 
of a century ago in September 1639 the history of Fairfield 
began just across Eliot street from the present home of the 
Society which finds a worthy occupation in perpetuating it. The 
early life of the plantation was directed by and centered about 
Roger Ludlowe whose signature distinguishes our seal and 
whose story I am asked to tell on this occasion. 

He came of an English family early domiciled in Shrop- 
shire and from thence moving into Wiltshire where his ances- 
tors are found in the first rank of gentlemen entitled as 
Knights of the Shire to stand as candidates to represent their 
county in Parliament, an honor which they seldom failed 
to acquire. The arms of the family were : Argent a chevron 
between three martins' heads erased sable. Crest : A demi mar- 
tin rampant sable. IMotto : Omne solum forti patria (To a 
brave man every land is home). 

Our Roger was the second son of Thomas Ludlowe of 
Dinton, Wiltshire, gentleman, and Jane Pyle, sister of Sir Gab- 
riel Pyle, Knight, and was baptized if not born on March 7th, 
1590. He accordingly founded Fairfield in his forty-ninth 
year. He was cousin to Lieut.-General Edmund Ludlowe who 
was a member of the Court at the trial of King Charles, and 
was called by Macaulay "the most illustrious survivor of a 
mighty race of men, the judges of a King, the founders of 
a republic." 

His eldest brother, Gabriel, was called to the Bar in Eng- 
land in 1620 and became a Bencher in 1637. His youngest 
brother, George, emigrated to New England and thence to 
Yorktown, in Virginia, where he acquired a large estate and 

became lieutenant of the eonnty Avith the rank of Colonel and 
a member of tlie Council. He owned one-sixteenth of the 
ship Mayflower. 

Roger matriculated at Oxford from Baliol College on 
June 16th, 1610, but did not graduate, and became a student 
in the Inner Temple in November, 1612. The succeeding 
eighteen years preceding his departure were devoted to the 
study and practice of the law, and in them he acquired a pro- 
fessional equipment such as was possessed b}- no other im- 
migrant of his time. 

With such lineage and training he necessarily found a 
congenial place among those "who were called by duty as 
v.-ell as choice to the field of adventure and preferment then 
opening in New England." To this service he gave his fortune 
and his highly trained endeavors. 

In JMarch, 1628, a royal grant of certain estates across the 
sea was obtained by John Endecott and others who were 
known as "The Dorchester Company." 

Some months later the original patentees with twenty 
new associates procured from King Charles the famous Chart- 
er of the "Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in 
New England. ' ' In this Company Ludlowe was chosen an as- 
sistant by the stockholders in London on October 20th, 1629, 
"that his counsel and judgement might aid in preserving or- 
der and founding the social structure upon the surest basis." 

In the Dorchester and Bay Companies he was associated 
with the leading minds of his day, makers of the English as 
well as the New England Commonwealth. To be chosen as an 
assistant by such men, a position equivalent to that of a man- 
aging director in the Company's affairs, was honor indeed. 
To serve also as Deputy Governor in both Colonies, Governor 
de facto in Connecticut, Magistrate, Commissioner, Legislator, 
Jurist, Judge, Maker of Treaties, Deviser of Constitutions,' 
'''ompiler of I-aws, and Champion of Democracy became his 
inevitable task in the land of his adoption. 

On the 20th of March. 1630, Ludlowe set sail from Ply- 
moutli in the ship Mary and John, a ship of four hundred 

tons which he then or thereafter owned, with John Mason, 
Underhill, Patrick, Southcote, and Smith, the minister Maver- 
ick and his colleague Wareham, and, what Cotton Mather cal- 
led, "an honorable Company" of lesser notables. In May of 
that year, a month in advance of Andrew Warde, he landed 
on Nantasket Point, and finally settled at Mattapan which 
subsequently became Dorchester. 

He is said in some biographies to have married Mary 
Endecott, the sister of Governor Endecott already mentioned, 
but it is more probable that he married Mary Cogan, the 
daughter of Philobert Cogan of Chard, in Somerset, who was 
the sister of Endecott 's wife. (N. E. Hist, and Gen. Reg., Vol. 
43, P. 310.) This marriage had apparently taken place be- 
fore he sailed. 

Through five industrious years he labored acceptably for 
Massachusetts and so earned the right to be called chief 
which the Bible awards to those who serve. The servant of 
all he thereby became the greatest of all. 

He was conceded to be and characterized as "the princi- 
pal lay citizen of Dorchester." He was one of its three stock- 
holders in the Bay Company. He selected the site for its 
plantation and was a land owner, land commissioner, land 
viewer, and surveyor there. He was appointed a justice of the 
peace with Winthrop and Saltonstall soon after his arrival; 
negotiated the first treaty with the Pequots and another with 
the Narragansetts and Mohegans; served as Administrator of 
estates ; drafted orders and laws to meet emergencies and was 
Colonel ex officio. When the subversion of the Colonial gov- 
ernment through the instrumentality of Laud was threat- 
ened by the King in 1634 and the Colonists resolved to defend 
themselves by force if necessary, he was made "overseer of 
the work at Castle Island," (now Fort Independence,) one of 
the most important defences on the coast, and finally was 
chosen a member of a military commission of most extraordin- 
ary authority with Winthrop, Dudley, Haynes, Endecott, Bel- 
lingham, Pynchon and Bradstreet as his associates. To reverse 
the familiar motto, Ex omnibus disce unum. 

IJut altliough he stood thus high iu the councils and con- 
fidence of his contemporaries, matters in tlie Bay Colony -were 
shaping to an end which must inevitably cost it his allegiance 
in common with that of Hooker, Ilaynes, Stone and our own 
Andrew Warde. 

At a meeting of the General Court of the Colony in iMay, 
1631, it was 

"Ordered and decreed that for the time to come no 
man shall be admitted to the freedom of this body 
politic but such as are members of some of the 
churches within the limits of the same." 

"Thus these men w^ho had expatriated themselves for the 
sake of civil and religious liberty undertook to build a 
state on the basis of a church convenant with ecclesiastical 
domination in spiritual and temporal affairs alike." 

The ultimate outcome of this was foreordained. First 
ca]ne friction, then heat, then sparks, then flame, then the sep- 
arating and dissipating consequences which folloAV conflagra- 
tion. Four years was the period of this inevitable progression, 
during all of which Ludlowe served his associates in the labors 
more abundant which have been above enumerated. 

On May 14th. 1634. he had been elected Deputy Gov- 
ernor and in due course should have been Governor in 1635, 
but Avas defeated by John Haynes who is contemporaneously 
described as "of large estate and larger affections and dear 
to the people by his benevolent virtues and disinterested con- 
duct," although Ludlowe himself referred to him as his "evil 

While this was justly a great disappointment, it was 
doubtless only a minor one among the reasons which prompted 
him to join those who soon after — to use their own language — 
"followed the strong bent of their spirits to remove." 

"The controlling factor in the whole situation lay in the 
fact that men of masterful purposes, of broad views of human 
rights, of faith in democratic principles, could not long brook 
the church membership test of suffrage, the exclusiveness and 

the arrogance of ministerial interference and dictation in pub- 
lic and private affairs." 

Thus Massachusetts lost the services of one of her ablest 
men, and Connecticut, acquiring him as a pioneer, to this day 
enjoys the works of his hand in her unique constitution, her 
unexcelled jurisprudence and her political and religious liber- 

The valley of the Long River was not an unknown land to 
the men of this new emigration. Its spell had long before been 
cast upon Dutch and English adventures, and the Sagamore 
Wahquinnacut, an ambassador from Sassacus, who came first 
to Ludlowe and dined with Governor Winthrop, had urged 
the colonists to come to his country and given glowing des- 
criptions of its attractiveness. 

Small parties from the three Bay towns, Dorchester, New- 
town and Watertown, came to Connecticut in the summer of 
1635 (as Brewster informs us in his contemporaneous letter) 
to choose locations for their families. Ludlowe came with 
those from Dorchester, and Mathew Grant, the surveyor, in 
his first distribution set out a large lot to him at what was 
again called Dorchester, for they brought the names of their 
Massachusetts homes with them; but Dorchester soon became 
Windsor, named from the royal city; Newtown Hartford, the 
English birthplace of ]\Ir. Stone, and Watertown Wethersfield, 
John Talcott's foreign home. 

The lot so set out to him contained 122 acres and was sit- 
uated on the "island road" at the "two bridges" between Mr. 
Samuel Allen and Mr. Henry Wolcott. On this lot he built 
a "stone house" which was "drowned very deep" in the flood 
of 1638-9. 

This house is believed to have stood near where the new 
Loomis Institute road now turns off from the old highway to- 
ward the railroad. 

Just here the undoubted facts compel the painful admis- 
sion that Ludlowe and his company established themselves in 
Windsor by a ruthless belligerency Avhich calmly swept aside 
the lawful claims of prior occupants. 

He returned to the Bay for the foHowing winter, and in 
^Mareh. 1636, the General Court of Massachusetts empowered 
a commission of eight to govern those who thus "had resolved 
to transplant themselves and their estates unto the river of 
Connecticut." "Roger Ludlowe, Esq.," was named first on 
this commission and Andrew Warde last. To it were accorded 
in combination the usual powers of Legislature Court and Ex- 
ecutive. Its enabling act is a familiar document in American 

Thus was Roger Ludlowe selected by those who knew him 
best to be the virtual head of this first experiment in true 
democracy and his loss of the Massachusetts Governorship 
might well be thenceforth forgotten. 

He forthAvith moved to Windsor, and the first entry in the 
Colonial records of Connecticut is that of a "Corte holden att 
Newton (Hartford) 26 April, 1636," over which he with 
four of his associates on the Commission presided. 

During the ensuing year he held several "Cortes" the 
records of which have been preserved, at once instituted jury 
trials, and doubtless labored constantly and effectively in the 
arduous task of guiding the three river towns on that untried 
way whicli Avas to ultimately become Connecticut. 

Although the Charter of the Commission expired by its 
terms in IMarch, 1637, a rencAval was never sought or granted. 
The river toAvns had always intended and now learned to 
stand alone. Ludlowe appears to have continued by common 
consent to act as chief executive. On the first day of May, 
1637, he presided over what the record describes as a "Gener- 
all Corte at Harteford" — the initial occurrence by the way of 
that title for the tribunal — and there "an offensuive warr agt. 
the Pequoitt" Avas declared, an act sometimes described as 
the first display of sovereignty in New England. 

"A pink, a pinnace and a shallop" thereupon took doAvn 
the river more than one-half the fighting men of the three 
"plantaeons" and, before the issue is knoAA'u. LudloAve, Aveigh- 
ed doAvn with the responsibility for the administration of the 

almost defenceless settlements, on May 17th writes in part as 
follows to his friend Pynehon in like stress at Springfield : 

"For my part my spirit is ready to sink within me when 
upon alarms which are daily I think of your condition. * * 
* * But I must confess both you and ourselves do stand 
merely by the power of our God, therefore he must and ought 
to have all tbe praise of it. * * * * Our plantations are 
so gleaned by that small fleet we sent out that those that re- 
main are not able to supply our watches ; * * * * and 
what we plant is before our doors, little anywhere else." 

On the 26th of the following month he was ordered by the 
"Genrall Corte" in conjunction with "Mr. Haine" "to parle 
with the bay" about Pequoitt matters, and in July he accom- 
panied the force which on July loth under the command of 
his friend and fellow ship-mate in the Mary and John, Cap- 
tain Mason, exterminated that tribe in the great swamp fight 
in Southport. Thus active in war as well as in peace, and al- 
ways observant, his zealous attention to the task committed to 
his charge brought him to Fairfield, and coming he saw that 
which made its "taking up" so worth while as to be speedily 

For the time being, however, he returned with the victor- 
ious troops to the river towns, although "fair Uncowa with its 
hills and streams, rich intervales and forest lands" had cap- 
tured his imagination. 

Just here he diversifies the sameness of his constant civil 
service with the only ecclesiastical labor which I find credited 
to him and, with Mr. Pynehon as his fellow delegate, accom- 
panies Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone to a colonial Synod where 
in twenty-two days they helped to condemn eighty-two dis- 
tinct teachings of the Antinomians, and, for some reason not 
clearly evident, took with them a scalp from those of which 
the Pequot heads had been so recently bereft. 

Before these days his name had always headed the list 
of the magistrates who held the various courts upon the river, 
but his successful competitor for the governorship of Massa- 
chusetts had now moved to Connecticut, and, whether on 


account of his greater wealth and far greater diplomacy, or 
for some other reason, soon took precedence here, and from Nov- 
ember 1-lth, 1637 Mr. Ilaynes' name appears first and Lud- 
lowe's second. In this sequence he appears in the roll call 
of each General Court until the birthday of Connecticut as a 
Commonwealth on January 14th, 1639 for an "orderly and 
decent government established according to God with duties 
and powers and restrictions put into writing and published 
dates for Connecticut and for the civilized world from that 

"It Avas very quietly done, this momentous act, this 
first written Constitution known to history that created a 
government. Its adoption was the beginning of American 
democracy and that is the same as to say of all properly safe- 
guarded popular government the wide Avorld over." 

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut are one of the 
epoch-marking documents of history, and yet no account exists 
of the method or surrounding circumstances of their adoption. 
They stand upon the records of the State without introduc- 
tion or background or comment save the single concluding 

"14th January 1638-9 the 11 orders above said are 

They were plainly deemed to be self explanatory and self 
sufficient. They are the Melchizadek among the Magna 
Chartas of the World. 

Some historians find in the "General Court" of those days 
the then equivalent of the present General Assembly, and in 
as much as the 7th article of this instrument defines one of the 
duties of that Court to be "to agitate the afajTes of the Com- 
monwealth," the claim seems to be well founded. Our only 
concern with them today is to note the fact that, ever since 
their monumental character came to be recognized and writ- 
ten of, Roger Ludlowe is conceded to have been the artificer 
of their form. While he doubtless was also influential in deter- 
mining the principles involved he certainly clothed those 
principles in the language used. 


On April 11th, 1639, at the first "Court of Election" 
created by and held under this new constitution he was elected 
Deputy Governor — JMr. Haynes being Governor — and on August 
8th was appointed with the Governor and Mr. Wells "to goe 
to the River's mouth to consult with Mr. Fenwick about a 
treaty of combination" with some of the other New England 
colonies which may have been the initial step in the federa- 
tion hereafter referred to. 

On the 15th of the same month he reports to the General 
Court the result of this endeavor, but at the next Court held 
on September 5th, 1639, his name — for the first time since he 
came to Connecticut — does not appear in the list of magis- 
trates present, nor does it appear in the record of the Court 
held five days later, and he is then fined five shillings "for 
being absent." 

He appears again among the magistrates holding a Parti- 
cular Court on October 3rd, and at a General Court held a 
week later the record states that "Mr. Deputy informed the 
Court that he had understood since his returne offence hath 
beene taken att some of his proceedings in his late journey to 
Pequonnocke and the parts thereabouts" whereupon he pro- 
ceeds to explain his conduct, and the margin of the old record 
is inscribed "Mr. Ludlowe his apology for taking up Uncoa." 

Thus by grace of an unprecedented absence, a side note 
and an apology we are enabled to accord to the month of Sep- 
tember, 1639, the distinction of having seen the birth of Fair- 

Ludlowe explains that ' ' att his coming to the Pequonnocke 
he found cause to alter his former thoughts of * * winter- 
ing there," and finding that undesirable persons were plan- 
ning to "take up a Plantacon beyond * * * he adventured 
to drive his cattle thither * * and to sett out himself and 
some others house lotts to build on there * * and sub- 
mitts * * whether he hath transgressed the Commission 
or nott." 

The Court "unanimously conceaved that his proceedings 
could not be warranted by the Commission" and, apparently 


that he might be judged by his peers, appointed the then Gov- 
ernor Haynes and the future Governor Wells to visit the place 
and adjust the matter. 

At a General Court held the following January "the im- 
portunity of * * Wethersfield * * concerning Uncoa" 
was answered by a report from this Committee that they 
had "thought fitt * * to confirme" Mr. Ludlowe's acts. 
"We thus, and in no other way, learn that Ludlowe started on 
his journey with friends and cattle to settle at Pequonnoeke 
under some kind of Commission, the nature of which is not dis- 
closed, except that it did not cover the settling of Uncoa, and 
that Uncoa appearing to our discerning, intrepid and always 
headstrong adventurer too good to lose was nevertheless 

It should be explained that the district then called Pe- 
quonnock extended from the Pequonnock River westerly 
toward, if not to. Ash Creek. 

Before finally leaving the General Court of October 10th, 
1639, however, we should note that indexed land records were 
thereby ordered and town clerks appointed for the first time 
in New England, and provision made for the orderly settling 
of testate and intestate estates, all of which is convincingly 
credited to Mr. Ludlowe. 

He is also appointed Chairman of a Committee to "gather 
up" the "remarkable passages of God's providence" from 
the beginning of the Colony and report them for record. 

An affidavit of John Green found in Vol. A of our re- 
cords at page 447 shows that some, if not all, of those who 
came with him to Uncoa were John Green, Edward Jessup, 
Thomas Newton, Thomas Staples and Edmund Strickland. 
The "house lott" so as aforesaid "sett out" to him was on 
the northwest side of Eliot Street, a short distance east of Mr. 
Betts' store, and near by were the lots of his above named 
companions. He left his "cattle" here, but evidently did not 
then build a house for himself, since he was soon back in Hart- 
ford as the above quoted record of October 3d shows. 


He sat in six Courts between October 3d, 1639, and 
March 5th, 1640, both inclusive, but was absent on April 2d, 
and thereafter continuously until the General Court for the 
election of magistrates in April, 1612, when he was elected 
Deputy Governor again. This interval in his attendance at the 
court on the river probably indicates the time when he was 
busy at Uncoa building his house, providing for and protecting 
his interests and ordering the affairs of the new plantation. 

In February, however, while still in Windsor, he was "in- 
treated to consider some orders" about intestate estates and 
corporal punishment and land tenures, for during his entire 
sojourn in Connecticut toll was taken of his legal knowledge 

During his absence from the General Court and the place 
of its sessions, he was by no means forgotten, for in April, 
1640, he was chosen a magistrate and appointed with Mr. 
Haj'nes and Mr. Wells "to settle, the bounds between Paquon- 
ocke and Uncowaye" and to "tender the oath of Fidelity to 
the Inhabitants of the said Townes." In June of that year 
he was ordered to "set out the bounds betwixt the Planta- 
tions of Cuphege (now Stratford) and Uncowaye" and to 
join with Mr. Hopkins of Cuphege in administering justice 
there, and in April, 1641, was again elected a magistrate. 

The first twelve pages of the first volume of our town 
records are missing, and the entries there begin with the year, 
1649, which is probably old style for 1650, so that any informa- 
tion about his actions here which may have been contained 
in the lost pages will never be available. It was undoubtedly 
brief at the best, and probably related simply to his grants 
of land. What most, if not all, of these were we know suffi- 
ciently well from the record of the sales made by him just 
before he left, and hereafter referred to. We do know that 
the town was started by Ludlowe both geographically and 
civilly in orderly and well considered fashion and that its 
fashion and its founder soon attracted here the best blood 
in both the Connecticut and New Haven Colonies. The same 
intelligent concern for the welfare of his Colony which led 


him at the outset to exceed his commission westward beyond 
Pequounock soon made apparent the desirability of acquiring 
territory farther westward still, and on February 26th, 1641 
"the Indians of Norwalke" are pursuaded by largess of wam- 
pum, tobacco, looking glasses, and jews harps,— the coin cur- 
rent of that aboriginal realm, — to convey to "Mst. Roger 
Ludlowe of faierfield" the territory extending from the middle 
of the Norwalk river to the middle of the Soakatuck river 
and from the sea a day's walk into the country.* 

"What his dealings with the Indians of Fairfield had been 
we do not know. No deeds from them to him have ever come 
to light, or from them to the inhabitants prior to his departure. 
The three deeds which cover the present town and more are 
dated 1656, 1661 and 1670, but contain no reference to him 
or any suggestion that the previous relations between the abor- 
iginal grantors and the inhabitants had been otherwise than 

The deed from the Norwalk Indians is witnessed by Thom- 
as Ludlowe and one Adam. Adam was evidently the Indian 
servant given to him by Massachusetts. Thomas is said by 
the Norwalk historian Selleck to have been his son. His broth- 
er Gabriel had a son Thomas but I find no evidence that Roger 
liad such a child. 

This Norwalk property Ludlowe agreed on June 19, 1650, 
to surrender to Nathaniel Eli and others in consideration that 
they would "sett upon the plantinge of Norwalk with all con- 
venient speed," pay him fifteen pounds with interest and give 
to "his sonnes" one of the "first lots laied out" of the value 
of £200. There is nothing, however, to indicate that any lot 
was ever so set apart. 

On April 13, 1654 — one month before he parts with all 
his property in Fairfield — he executes a formal transfer of 
the Norwalk land to Eli and his associates, and acknowledges 
himself "satisfied." 

♦This deed .shows that Fairfield had before this date begun in 
local usage to supplant Uncowa or Uncowaye as the name of the new 
town, although the records of the State do not seem to use it until 1645. 


A conspicuously handsome monument of bronze and gran- 
ite in south eastern Norwalk now characterizes Ludlowe as 
the "founder" of that town. 

Emboldened by your civic pride and guarded by your 
friendship, I venture to claim that Ludlowe founded only one 
town and that that town was Fairfield. 

As public affairs were administered in the Bay Colony in 
1635 and 1636 when "the Dorchester Church" (for so were the 
settlers there contemporaneously described) with its minister 
moved to Windsor, no lay member of the pilgrimage, however 
learned, could successfully claim to have founded the place 
where it next "set downe," while the above transcription of 
what really happened between the Saugatuck and Norwalk 
rivers ought to make the monument blush for its metallic 

After his election as Deputy Governor in 1642 he sat once 
in the General Court before the next Court of Election at 
which, not being eligible under the custom for consecutive re- 
appointment as deputy, he was chosen a magistrate, appointed 
moderator of the particular court, and -directed to hold two 
local courts for Stratford and Uncoway during the year. 

In November, 16'43, the Colony "deseired" him to review 
"the Souldears of the towns uppon the sea coast." If Frank- 
lin was "many sided" surely Roger Ludlowe was as truly so. 

He was reelected Magistrate in 1644 and 45 but apparently 
was still busy in the new plantation, and attended court only 
once. His labors had by this time produced a degree of pros- 
perity in Fairfield which caused it in 1645 to be for the first 
time included in the rate levy of the Colony. 

He was again elected magistrate in ]646 and "deseired 
to take some paj^nes in drawing forth a body of laws for the 
government of this Commonwealth," and it was ordered that 
two particular courts be held immediately preceding the 
two general courts "that both the assistance of Mr. Ludlowe 
may be had and such actions as fall out betwixt any uppon the 
River and the Townes by the sea side be more comfortably 


The "body of lawos" above referred to was finally com- 
pleted by Ludlowe and adopted by the General Court in May, 
1650. x\o record or evidence exists to show that he was ever 
compensated therefor beyond the statement that "it is the mynd 
of the Court that he be considered for his paynes." To this 
day it is known as " Ludlowe 's Code." It is not a revision or 
compilation but "a systematic and comprehensive body of 
laws prefaced by a Bill of Rights in which are contained sev- 
eral of the leading provisions of Magna Charta." 

It is a marvelous production for a wilderness inhabitant 
and in form and substance most of its articles are today 
embodied in the general legislation of the State. 

He was elected a magistrate in 1647 and Deputy Governor 
in 1648, then again first magistrate in 1649, 50, 51, 52 and 53, 
but at the Court of Election on May 18th, 1654, his name 
does not appear and therewith, except for the Staples trial, 
he passes out of Connecticut history. 

After his last election as Deputy Governor he participated 
in the General Court at Hartford only five times, except when 
it sat as a Court of Election, for other lawyers well enough 
equipped for the purpose had come to the front, but he was 
regularly elected a member of it and in all matters of moment 
to the colony at large was generally accorded a prominent 
position. lie is sent on commissions to the New Haven Col- 
ony, and in 1649 is "desired" to prepare the "Souldgers" 
for the Indian War. 

In 1643 Connecticut joined with Massachusetts, Plymouth 
and New Haven— Saybrook also having some place — to form 
a federation known as The United Colonies of New England 
to better meet the ever present peril from the Dutch and 
Indians. To the meetings of this Federation Ludlowe was 
sent as Commissioner from Connecticut for the years 1648, 
51, 52 and 53, and when the peril from the Dutch was believed 
to have become imminent and the federated colonies seemed 
to act tardily or not to act at all, Fairfield in the fall of 1653 
declared war all by herself and appointed Ludlowe Command- 


er in Chief of her forces which he proceeded at once to enlist 
and drill. 

The shafts of criticism forthwith filled the air and strnck 
and rankled, but no bullets of the real enemy drew blood. Cer- 
tain actions of the colonial anthorities at this time and in this 
connection he declared to be "a reflection on his patriotism." 

Soon thereafter Thomas Staples sued him for slandering 
Mrs. Staples in a talk with Rev. John Davenport of New Haven 
about witchcraft, at the trial of which suit on May 29th, 1654, 
judgement was rendered for fifteen pounds damages — clearly 
against the evidence — and again for ten pounds in a second 
suit tried in October. His attorney Avas Ensign Alexander 
Bryan of Milford. The record of the first suit states that Lud- 
lowe himself Avas not present and describes him as "late of 

His first home, a tract of two acres on what is now Eliot 
Street, he conveyed on January 4th, 1654, to Daniel Finch, 
bounding it northwest with the common, southwest with land 
of Walter Lancaster, southeast with the highway, and north- 
east with land of William Heydon, and just a month later the 
town set out to him a "homelot" of five acres on the north- 
Avest side of the present main street at the Benson corners, 
bounded on three sides by highways, and now oAvned by Mrs. 
Auchincloss and Miss Jennings. 

The removal of his former Eliot street neighbor AndrcAV 
Warde in December 1653 to tlie second homelot west of tliis 
^lain street corner may have influenced this purchase, but if 
LudloAve ever lived there it Avas for the briefest time. 

On May 10th, 1654, he conveyed to his above mentioned 
friend and Attorney Alexander Bryan (or Briant) this new 
homelot together with many acres of other land situated in 
Avidely separated parts of the town, including forty-seven and 
one-half acres at the end of Kennedy's or Sasco Point. 

Bryant conveyed the homelot on the next day to Nathan 
Gold, a man of commanding character, who after LudloAve's 
departure largely took his place in Fairfield. 


Gold had come here from INIilford in the New Haven 
Colony in 1649, and Andrew Warde of the same colony came 
at about the same time. jMv own first lineal ancestor in the 
town, Richard Perry, ])robably the one time Secretary of 
that name in the New Haven Colony, had also recently moved 
in and was then living on the opposite side of Main Street. 

For reasons which can only be conjectured, Roger Lud- 
lo^\e left Fairfield and Connecticut between I\Iay 10th, and 
29th, 1651, never to return. It is supposed that an accumula- 
tion of slights, disappointments, undeserved criticisms, petty 
jealousies and failure to recognize his priceless services, cul- 
minating in his failure to attain the Governorship, the Dutch 
War episode, and the Staples law suit determined his depart- 
ure, although Mr. John "SI. Taylor, his latest biographer, con- 
ceives it to be quite possible that an invitation from Oliver 
Cromwell, to whom he was well known, to return and enter 
the service of the English Commonwealth may have been a 
super-added and controlling cause, for it is known that at this 
time such invitations were coming to this country. He w^as 
too efficient a man to be round-cornered, too energetic to be 
companionable, too direct to be diplomatic, too self-reliant 
and out-spoken to be popular. Always fortiter in re he was 
apparently seldom suaviter in mode. He was a Avilderness 
subduer and a foundation builder, not a social favorite. The 
Massachusetts records disclose that while an important ques- 
tion of government Avas under discussion there he "grew into 
a passion and continued stiff in his opinions," and on two 
occasions men were fined for piling epithets upon him which 
were possibly deserved but decidedly unpleasant for the per- 
son described to listen to. When in 1635 he failed of promotion 
to the Governorship, he stormed about in a way which made 
no friends, and even the sainted wife of John Davenport felt 
justified in describing him under oath as "free in his speech." 
Among the contentious of those days he was described as "the 
cheffe man." Be it said to his credit however, that among his 
other contentions he was the first man in New England to 
"hotly condemn" a political caucus. Too indispensable to 


have been out of important public office a single year of the 
twenty-four which he spent in New England and yet never 
quite attaining the highest, almost, but not quite the leading 
figure of his time, he chartered a vessel ' ' to transport himself 
and his family to Vergenia" there to visit his brother before 
returning to his native land. When the Colony of New Haven 
in April 1654 confiscated the ship so chartered, he complained 
bitterly and departing soon afterward as above stated, sailed, I 
judge, direct to Ireland, for I can find no evidence of his going 
to Virginia, while the deposition of a Mr. Webster (State Arch- 
ives private controversies Vol. II. doc.4) made in 1660 speaks of 
an event as having happened ' ' about the time Mr. Ludlowe went 
for old England."* 

Landing in Ireland he crossed over and was at Holyhead 
in September, 165-1 where his cousin, Edmund Ludlow, Lieut. 
General of Cromwell's forces in Ireland, tells us in his memoirs 
that he met him and took him back to Dublin. There he 
was soon nominated by Cromwell, and on December 18th, 1654, 
appointed by the Lord Deputy and Council, to be a member 
of a Commission composed of men of the greatest distinction 
to settle claims relative to the forfeited lands in Ireland, and 
for other purposes. The record is as follows : 

"It is ordered that Roger Ludlowe, Esq.. be appointed 
Commn. for the administration of justice at Dublin and like- 
wise for the adjudication of claymes and to that end it is or- 
dered that he be inserted in the Respective Commission for 
that Purpose; and it is further ordered that he be added to 
the Commission for the administration of justice in the County 
of Corke, and inserted in the commssion for the Peace of the 
said County, to the end he may act in the administration of 
justice there until he shall be otherwise disposed of as there 
may be occasion for the most advantage of the Common- 

He sat in this Commission during its life and on Septem- 
ber 22, 1758. w^as paid "in full for his good services." 

♦After arriving at this conclusion I find it supported in a note 
by the late State Librarian Charles J. Hoadley in Vol. 41 New Eng. 
Hist, and Gen. Reg. P. 65. 


Thereupon he was appointed on a new Commission order- 
ed by the Lord Protector and associated again with men of 

He also was made Master in Chancery for Ireland, a lucra- 
tive position of authority and great responsibility. The last 
known reference to his public labors is found in the Receiver 
General's accounts and is as follows: 

"Dec. 16, 1659. To Mr Jonathan Ludlow (probably his 
oldest son) by Warrt. dated ye 12th of Dec'r, 1659, the sum of 
twenty pounds for ye use of Roger Ludlow for his care and 
pains taken in several publi(iue services in this nacon, and is in 
ful satisfac'con of all past services done by him for ye Com- 

The last known reference to the man himself is the follow- 
ing entry in the records of Saint Michan's Parish Church in 
Dublin : 

"1664, June 3. Burial, Mary Ludlowe, wife to Roger Lud- 
lowe, Esq." 

From this it is apparent that the husband was then living 
and resident in Dublin. 

No authority yet seen records his death or points to his 

If the Constitution which he devised was the Melchizadeck 
of Democracy, he himself appears to have been its Moses, and 
to have been punished, as was that first great laM^giver, for 
infirmities of temper. 

He apparently took with him to Ireland his wife Mary 
Cogan and such of his six children, Jonathan, Joseph, Roger, 
Anne, ]\Iary and Sarah, as were then born. One of these was 
born in "Windsor. The birthplaces of the others we do not 
know. Sarah married Nathaniel Brewster, a nephew of Elder 
Brewster of Plymouth, and returning to this country died and 
is buried at Setauket, Long Island. Captain Caleb Brewster 
of Black Rock, of Revolutionary fame, was one of her des- 
cendants, and his grandson, Caleb Brewster Ilackley. was the 
last of the Ludlowe line living in or near Fairfield unless what 


the late Mr. Henry ]\Iills thought prol)able ultimately proves 
to be true, that the wife and children of the President of this 
Societ}^ enjoy that enviable distinction. 

It is not without regret that I have thus made my contri- 
bution to your evening's entertainment as dry and uninspir- 
ing as the index of a book of deeds. I was anxious but unable 
to do otherwise. The early records and contemporary litera- 
ture of the town have been searched in vain for a human pic- 
ture of our founder. 

We are trusted with the knoM'ledge that his pastor had 
one eye and great fervor, but of what parts was Roger Lud- 
lowe ? 

Our curiosity is piqued by the long silences where during 
the fifteen years of his guardianship of our infancy some in- 
formation might so easily have been given about his local in- 
terests, his community relations, his appearance, his family, 
and his social life. 

That, when his fellow citizens were identified by their 
first names and habitually referred to without prefix or title, he 
was sufficiently described in Town and Colony and Federa- 
tion as ]\Ir. Ludlowe, and his constant public services duly 
noted, excites our pride but does not contribute to the intima- 
cy we would like to feel. 

He was the Colony's wise leader and capable executive, 
but he v/as our ancestors' friend and neighbor, and we resent 
the fact that we lack his picture and w^ere so flippantly dep- 
rived of his declining years and continuing posterity. We 
are glad however that while he stayed we gave him of offices 
and land and confidence the best Ave had. 

The makers of Connecticut history adorn her Capitol at 
Hartford, and among them is necessarily the subject of our 

Brooks' splendid statue placed in the western niche on the 
north front in 1909 portrays him in cloak, doublet and short 
clothes, with a law book in his hand, strikingly intellectual 
and palpably combative as he looks out from the building 
where center the activities of that which he taught how to be 


a State. The hair is long as was Cromwell's, whose example 
in that respect he is said to have followed, while the features 
are copied from an existing portrait of a relative. 

Next to him stands John Mason, his fellow immigrant, 
quondam neighbor and life-long friend, and beyond Mason 
are Governors Eaton, Winthrop and Haynes. 

Thus in memorial effigy as in active life he is one of and 
level with the choicest spirits of his time. 

Connecticut's recognition of "the father of Connecticut 
Jurisprudence," as he was earl}' called by Judge Thomas Day, 
though late is generous, for the Supreme Court room in the 
new State Library derives distinction from Herter's notable 
portrayal of the enactment of the Fundamental Orders in which 
Koger Ludlowe seated at the table dominates the group. 

Except for three lines upon the boulder on our Green, the 
town which owes its existence to his discernment, and its early 
prominence to his repute, has paid no lasting tribute to his 

Tho preceding sketch was rendered possible by, and its author 
is greatly indebted to, Pres. John M. Taylor of Hartford the modern 
biographer of Ludlowe, and in a lesser but very considerable degree to 
The History of Fairfield by Mrs. Schenck, to the Article on Ludlowe 
by William A. Beers (late of Fairfield) in The Magazine of American 
History Vol. Vin, to Rev. Doctor Hart of Middletown, to Mr. Godard, 
the State Librarian and his assistants, and to many other kind friends 
and helpers whose united contributions have given to it such value as 
it has.— J. H. P. 

Pi) l« 1 








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