Ludwell-Paradise House Historical Report, Block 18 Building 7 Lot 45Originally entitled: "Ludwell-Paradise House
Colonial Lot #45 Block 18 - #13 (12)"

Genevieve Yost


Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library Research Report Series - 1407
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Library

Williamsburg, Virginia


Colonial lot #45
Block 18 - #13 (12)


The account of the Ludwell-Paradise House in Williamsburg in Virginia differs materially from the account in A Handbook for the exhibition buildings and the latter seems more nearly correct. The first account supports the claim of John Paradise to the house, while the Handbook supports the ownership claim of William Lee and his son William Ludwell Lee.

The estimated date of erection "about 1717" and "between 1700 and 1717" is based upon the following records:

York Deeds II
Trustees City Williamsburg to Col. Phillip Ludwell
September 23, 1700
Three certain lots of ground in the city of Williamsburg designed in the plot of the said city by the figures 43, 44, 45 ..." [card #256]

On June 13, 1718 the city of Williamsburg sold lots 43 and 44 to Ambrose Cobbs. [card #349] The assumption is thus that lots 43 and 44 escheated to the city because Ludwell had not built houses upon them and had retained lot 45 because he had built a house thereon. The ultimate date of 1717 is probably set because he was suspended as auditor by Governor Spotswood in 1716 [Official letters of Alexander Spotswood, II, p. 150] and was not sufficiently active in public affairs thereafter to have necessitated erection of a house in the city.

Have not found the will of Philip Ludwell II by which he left the house to his son, but in 1755 Philip Ludwell [III] was advertising it for rent:

Virginia Gazette, William Hunter, ed.
October 17, 1755
... Also one other very good Dwelling-House, well accomodated with Out-Houses, Garden, Well, Fine large Stable and Goach-House, &c. situate on the Main Street, the Lower Side of the Market Place."

Many accounts of the estate of Philip Ludwell III give only the inheritance of two daughters. However, he had three, one of whom died unmarried in 1768, shortly after his death. By his will it seems that the property in Williamsburg went first to his daughter, Frances, and was divided between the other two daughters at her death.

Will of Philip Ludwell, 1767
Will dat. 28 Feb. 1767.
"... in trust for my daurs. Hannah Philippa L., Frances L. & Lucy L. in fee, to be divided as follows, the Green Spring part whereby I mean that part of my land that lies in James City County on the Western side of Powhatan Swamp (with slaves, stooks, etc.) including Powhatan Mill & the Miller; the Rich Neck part 2 whereby I mean all on Eastern side of the Powhatan Swamp & at Archers Hope & in Williamsburg; the Chipokes part whereby I mean all lands in the county of Surry; these to be made as equal as possible by edding part of one division to another and then Green Spring part to be conveyed to H.P. my Rich Neck part (with Rich Neck plantation therein) to F. at 21 or marr'd and the third part including Chipokes & my Surry lands to L. at 21 or marr'd — all in fee with Survivors' clause."
(Virginia Magazine of History, V. 32, p. 288)

In 1768 Philip Ludwell paid the following taxes:
The Estate of Phillip Ludwell Esqr
To 14 Tithes a 570
To 126 Tithes in Ja. City parish a. 56 30
To the Quit and tax on 8937 acres land.11.7.2½
To Mr. Wallers fee 13½ Secretarys fee 3964 09½
To 700 lb tobo. credd for a 2½7 5 10
To 409½ lb tobo. a 2d3 8 3
£ 22.1.3½
In 1769 his taxes were:
Phillip Ludwells Est. 13 tithes91
to 1200 tithes a.7896
Quits of 8937 acr. of land11.7.2

Evidently after the death of Frances Ludwell, her third of the property was divided among her two sisters, represented by their husbands, William Lee and John Paradise. Lettersand memoranda refer to this further division of the property:

Wm. Lee to his brothers, Richard & Henry & Francis Lightfoot Lee from London, March 15, 1769 — Extract. They may divide the estate in such a manner as to be much against my inclinations; as for instance I would not wish to have any part of ye houses in Wmsburgh which I think should be allotted to Miss L. [Lucy] Ludwell.
(Lee Manuscript Papers, Vol. 5, pp. 45-46)

Richard Henry Lee to dear Brother [William Lee]
Chantilly, Va. July 7, 1770
I came a week ago from Williamsburgh, about 5 days before the assembly was prorogued, and I was present when the division was made between you and Mr. Paradise. The conveyances were not made, but Colo. Corbin promised they should immediately be set about by an able conveyancer, and the whole recorded at the next General Court. The 3 houses in Williamsburg were divided by lot (having been first all valued by an experienced workman) and the large brick house that Rind lives in, the Mansion as it is called, where my Uncles family lived in Town; with the Blue Bell, a large house just behind the Capitol, fell to your share; and you were charged in account with their valuation. The first rents for £ 60 a year, the other 2 rent for £ 20 each, making £ 100 per ann. in the whole. With respect to them, I think fortune favored you, they being to be chosen in preference to the rest. The Green Spring lands, Governor's land excluded were valued at 20½ pr. acre, the Surry land at 40/ and some of the land in Miss Fanny's part, that was, at £ 3. The whole land west of Powhatan, Mrs. Lee's by will, and so allotted her now, together with 164 shares, 217 head of cattle, 190 head of sheep, with 17 horses, 1 improved and 1 unimproved lot which was in Jamestown, and the above lots in Williamsburg were valued at £ 14997:6. When this was compared with the valuation of the Surry land, and other estates there, the disproportion was so great in favor of Green Spring that it made necessary almost the whole of what was willed Miss Fanny to make the sisters equal. I would willingly have given up all the houses in Town, and some Negroes from Green Springs, in exchange for the lands near the Town. At length however they determined to take a few negroes from G. S. (your number remaining now as above, it being greater before) which added to the Balance that would have been due you if Mr. Paradise hath been appointed to the whole of Miss Fanny's part, except Town houses; accomplished the purposes of having Mrs. Lee assigned 1000 acres of land, about the head of Rich Neck Mill, I think it is called; convenient for furnishing wood to the Town and on which a quarter has long been, and we still think of continuing as the land is good, and the teams will be there ready to supply wood in the winter for the Town.
(Lee Manuscript Papers, Vol. 4, pp. 149-57)

Lee manuscript papers [c. 1770]
Vol. 5, pp. 360-361
From Wm. Lee's Papers & Memoranda.
Memo. reference to Estate inherited by his wife, from her father, Philip Ludwell. (Her maiden name was Hannah Ludwell. Her sister married John Paradise.)

"Mrs. Lee's Part"£Sd
The lands at Green Spring with all the Improvements, slaves, stocks, etc.136976
Houses and lots in Williamsburgh vis Warrington
Tenements where Col. Ludwell used to lodge300
Brick House750
Blue Bell250
£ 149976
"Mrs. Paradise's Part"
Rich Neck with Improvements, Slaves, Stock, etc.9553
Houses and Lots in Williamsburg - The Tenement adjoining the Speaker's & Red Lyon125
Powels Tenements50
Lands (?)(?)
Add the four slaves to be taken from Green Spring260


The claim of John Paradise, through his wife Lucy Ludwell Paradise, to this house, is probably based in part upon this record.

York County Deeds, Book VI, p. 68
September 20, 1779
Paradise, John
Land escheated
.... Likewise three houses and lots in the City of Williamsburg, the first being on the North side of the Main Street adjoining the lot of William Lee, now in the possession of Walter Lenox, the second on the North side of the Market Square adjoining the lots of Mrs. Betty Randolph and the lot of William Lee, Esq., now in the possession of Mr. Harrison Randolph.....become excheated to the Commonwealth.
[card 806]

The petition of Cary Wilkinson, agent for John Paradise and Lucy his wife does not enumerate or describe the lands he was attempting to regain. (Journals of the House of Delegates, 1777-1780, p. 25; Journals of the Council, Richmond, 1032, Vol. II, p. 95) Thomas Jefferson interceded for Paradise, but the entries in the Calendar of Jefferson Papers do not describe the lots. Some of the complete original letters might describe them more fully than the mention in the calendar.

The only insurance record for property of John Paradise is for land west of the College. There is none in the name of Lee, or Ludwell.

Various letters in the Lee papers, manuscripts in the Virginia historical society, refer to his houses in Williamsburg, though none identify the lot nor even refer to the "Brick House."

Philip Lightfoot Lee to William Lee
January 21, 1771
Yr houses in Wmsbg are in bad repair always rented to bad tenants always nasty & few rents paid. William Lee to Richard Henry & Francis Lightfoot Lee
March 7, 1771
.....Then add the rents of the houses in Wmsbg. deductg 10 p6 [sic] for repairs....
William Lee to R. C. Nicholas
23 Apr 1772 As it appears that the houses in Wmsburg when tenanted do not let for 8pct on the value of wch they were appraised, wch is a pet pr. an. less than what is common for houses; I shd think it wd be best way to dispose of them all.....& shall esteem it very kind in you to negotiate this business for me. That is, to sell all the houses in Williamsburgh not under the appraised price, nor wd I have one house sold without the whole..... 5 Francis Lightfoot Lee to Wm. Lee in London
December 1773
I was at Wmsburg the last of October to attend the sale of your lotts and to meet Mr. A. Trent, he was not there and as there were few people in town the sale of the lots was put off until the 18th of this month. I have not heard whether they were sold.

Evidently the houses were not sold, or at least not all the houses, as a letter of 1785 relates to the renting of the Brick House.

William Lee to Joseph Prentis, Williamsburg
Green Spring, July 21, 1785
Lee Letter Book, No. 5, p. 187
Sir: Inclosed you have Mr. Louis Dormore & Co. agreement for the Rent of my Brick house in Williamsburg... Mr. Dormore gave me to understand that he muant to leave the country and the house also.....He lives at present at the House that was Mrs. Tarpleys nearly opposite to Mr. Slairs. He may have some wine in the sellar of my house but I believe nothing else except a few hatts.

Letters in 1787 were still concerned with the rent of Louis Dormore and one feference indicatee that he lived there in 1786:

William Lee at Greenspring
To Benj. C. Waller, Williamsburg
Feb. 15th, 1787
Lee Letter Book, No. 5, pp. 360-61.
.....Mr. Russell informs Mr. Holt the other day that Mr. Dermoy would pay the Rent of Last year which is Eighteen pounds and the Bal. due for the Rent of the year before £ 9.2.9 and give ample Security for the future Rents as they become due....
One of his houses was occupied by another tenant in 1786.
Wm. Lee dated at Green Spring
Decr. 2nd, 1786
To Mr. John Bryan Wmsburg.
Lee Letter Book, No. 5, p. 340
As soon as you can after this is put into your hands I desire you will destrain any affects that you may find on my lot or in my houses thereon in the City of Williamsburg now in the occupation of Richard Watkins for the sum of Twelve Pounds for Rent due to me from the said Watkins for the said Lot and Houses and for so doing this shall be your indemnity. No time ought to be lost as I am told that Mr. Watkins is to lesve the Town in a day or two.

Map of unknown draftsman ca. 1784 and the Bucktrout map, 1800, give the name of Paradise on lot 44 and name of Lee on lot 45.


There is no doubt that Mrs. Lucy Ludwell Paradise identified herself with this house, and the assumption that "it is probable that she was permitted the use of the brick town house at Williamsburg by her nieces the daughters of William Lee, sisters of William Ludwell Lee who had died unmarried at the age of 27 in 1803", seems reasonable.

It is significant that at least three deeds which mention the Paradise House lot as a boundary say that it was "oocupied" by Mrs. Paradise rather than that it was "owned" by her.

Commissioners of estate of Robert H. Warburton
to Samuel Sheilds, jr.
April 8, 1811
....A house and lot on the Main Street in the city of Williamsburg,
bounded....on the West by a brick tenement occupied by Mrs. Paradise and on the North by the Back Street which said lot Robert H. Warburton purchased of —— Prentis.
[card 905]
(York County Deeds, Book VIII)

William P. Samuel Sheild, jr.
July 13, 1815
.....Counvey their several shares in the house and lot commonly called the "Brick Store", the lot whereof is bounded on the East by the land which separates it from the house occupied by Doctor —— Dufort, on the South by the Main Street, on the West by the lot late in the occupation of Lucy L. Paradise, decd. and on the North by —— street, and which is the same house and lot sold to the said Robert H. Warburton by William Prentis and Mary, his wife.....
[card 914]
(York County Deeds, Book VIII)

The land tax books of Williamsburg list lots owned by William Lee and John Paradise in different years, but the lots are not identified.

William Lee33333
John Paradise555222222

As William Lee died in 1795, the later entries probably refer to William Ludwell Lee, his son.

Phillippa J. Barziza to J.W. Wilkinson Williamsburg, Virginia Book I, p. 551
"All that property land or lots in the City of Williamsburg, James City County, Virginia, on the corner of Main or Duke of Gloucester Street and Colonial Street including the premises once occupied by the Barziza family and by Mrs. Davis together with all improvements."

There is record that Paradise purchased property from Philip Ludwell, but since it involves wood suitable for outting, it would not seem to be this Williamsburg lot.

Jas: Le Tellier "Secretary Interpreter of the French army" to the Executive.
Feb'y 17th, Williamsburg
Enclosing the claim of Cary Wilkinson, Agent for John Paradise, for cost of wood cut from the Estate of said Paradise, against "M. De Tarl's Intendant of the French Army" - Wilkinson had been manager for Hon. Phil: Ludwell, from whom Paradise had purchased the property on which the wood was cut. The justice of the claim substantiated by certificates of Citizens, and Adam Craig, Dep: Acting Auditor, that Paradise, was neither a refugee or British Subject, as charged: and that the damages had really been done by the French.
Calender of State Papers, III, 67

William Lee, after spending most of his life abroad, "in Europe until about 1784, when he returned to America, and obscurity in Virginia, devoting himself to his plantation at Greenspring." died at Green Spring on June 27, 1795. "Mr. Lee sailed from Ostende on the last day of June, and arrived at Green Spring, after a tedious passage, on September 25th." [Letters of William Lee, 1766-1783. I, p. 63, III, p.946.]

"He had four children by his wife: William Ludwell, born 23 January, 1775, died in 1802; Portia, born in 1777, married William Hodgson, of White Haven, England, and died in 1840; Brutus, born November, 1778, and died in the following year; and Cornelia, born in Brussels, 3 [Letters of William Lee, I, p. 63.]

The will of William Lee mentions lots and property in Williamsburg but does not refer to the "Brick House" specifically.

[February, 1789].
Lee, William, will
"I, William Lee, of Virginia ... give and devise and bequeath to my dearly beloved Son, William Ludwell Lee, and his heirs forever, all that estate real, personal and mixed, lying, being and situate in James City county, James Town, and 8 the City of Williamsburg, which descended to his mother, my late dear wife, Hannah Philippa Lee, as coheiress and legatee of her late father, the Honorable Philip Ludwell, and as coheiress to her late sister, Frances Ludwell * [Frances Ludwell died 14 September, 1768] ... "
Letters, III, p.949-950

Later he added a codicil devising the property in case of his son's death.

February 4, 1795.
"... In case my said son Wm. Ludwell departs this life before he arrives at the age of twenty one years, then and in that case, I give and devise to my daughter Cornelia and her heirs forever ... all these two tracts of parcels of land, lying and being in the said county of James City, commonly called and known by the names of Hotwater, and New Quarter, all my Houses and lots in the City of Williamsburg, and all my Lands in Loudoun or Prince William County ... "
[Letters, III, p.958]

William Ludwell Lee died at Green Spring, January 24, 1803, and was buried near his father in Jamestown Church yard. He bequeathed all his library, except his family Bible, to Bishop Madison, fred all his negroes and provided for them, and gave the remainder of his estate to his sisters.

As said before, Mrs. Lucy Ludwell Paradise resided in this house when she came to Williamsburg in 1805. The statement that "she willed the House to her Grandson, Philip, the Son of Count Barziza" must be erroneous since the court record states that she died intestate.

"His [John Paradise] widow afterwards came and resided in Virginia, where she died intestate, on the 24th of April, 1814."
[Randolph's Reports, II, 277]

Her grandson did come to Virginia to claim her estate, and the Calendar of Jefferson papers contain many references to it. Again the brief calendar entry does not enumerate the items of the estate.

Philip S. [illegible], to Thomas Jefferson. Feb. 14, 1817. Williamsburg.
Acknowledging a letter. Is awaiting the decision of the legislature concerning the settlement of Mr. and Mrs. Paradise's estate." Series 2, vol. 10, no. 96. 1822, February 2, Williamsburg.
Asking information as to his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Paradise, in order to facilitate settlement of his claims. Series 2, vol. 10, no. 97. 91824, March, 10, Williamsburg.
Decision of the court of appeals unfavorable to his claim on the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Paradise ...
Series 2, vol. 10, No. 98
[Calendar of Jefferson papers, II, p.46-47 (Bulletin of the Bureau of rolls and library of the Department of State, no. 8, Nov. 1894)]

A full account of the decisions in this case is given in Randolph's Reports:

"Barzizas vs. Hopkins and Hodgson. [1824] An appeal from Superior Court of Law for James City County. Case was twice argued in this Court and held for some time under consideration ... An action of ejectment upon the demise of John L. and P.J. Barziza against John Hopkins and William Hodgson and Portia his wife.
Lessors of the plaintiff claim the land in question as the heirs at law of Lucy Paradise who was entitled to it under the will of her father, Philip Ludwell, who died in 1767 ....
His [John Paradise] widow afterwards came and resided in Virginia, where she died intestate, on the 24th of April, 1814. Upon her death, Hopkins and Hodgson, in right of their wives, who were nieces of Mrs. Paradise, entered into the land, claiming that their wives were her heirs at law."
Randall Reports II, p.276 ff.

The decision of the judges in this case was in favor of Hodgson and Hopkins, as they ruled that Paradise, being a British subject, could not bequesth the property. The case does not specifically. mention the Ludwell-Paradise House, although, according to the chain of evidence in the following lot transfers, it must have been included.

The Williamsburg land tax records for the following years give these records:

Owners of lotsNo. of lotsAnnual of lots valueAmount of taxes of lots
1812Hopkins, John, via Lee1 45. 70
Hodgson, Willm via Lee1 100.1 56
1815[same no. of lots and same valuation of lots]1.63.5
1817Hopkins, John1 451 35
Hodgson, William1 1003 00
1818Hopkins, John1451 35
Lee, James, via Walter Jones, trustee on behalf of William Hodgson & wife to James Lee, house and lot in the city of Williamsburg, formerly charged to the said Hodgson11003 35


Owner of lotsNo. of lotsValueSum added to lots on acct of buildingYearly rentTax
1820Lee, James11500.14001003.60
1825Lee, James11400.15001002.03
1828Lee, James11400* 500
^ [*There is a fold in the paper here, which probably obscures the figure 1]
1838Lee, James1140015001002.50

Value of buildingsValue of lots incl. bldgs.
1840Lee, James11700120,3.25
1843Lee, James11500.17001204.32
1847Lee, James, estate1150017001202.88
1850Lee, James1150017001503.60
1854Slater, Parks1180020004006.67
1859Slater, Parks in right of wife12700300012.0016.88
1861Slater, Parks in right of wife12800300012.0018.75

Mr. Charles, in his Recollections, says the house was known as the Slater house.

The next house was the "Paradise House", called the "Slater" house in more recent years. These premises present now, a far more attractive appearance than ever. The old house, as remembered by the writer, had no front porch as it had a few years ago, and the steps came down from the front door straight to the sidewalk instead of on the side, as now. The writer remembers that when the old mansion was repaired, some years ago the owner, Mr. Slater, showed him a piece of plastering from the upstairs wall on which a part of a newspaper had been pasted, that contained accounts of things occuring during the Revolutionary War, also in regard to "Runaway" slaves.
Charles, Recollections of Williamsburg, p. 43-44

Mrs. Lee's Recollections add little to the architectural knowledge of the house but her story is probably the origin of one of the anecdotes about the family. She writes:

The Paradise House, except for the entrance, looks as it did during the war. Sone steps, with proportionate cheek blocks as those of the Baptist Church, led straight up from the street. Lady Paradise presented this house to her nephew, the well known Count Barzizza. He came over to this country to take possession of his newly acquired property. Soon after his arrival in town he 11 was invited to a ball at the Old Raleigh Tavern. Greatly impressed by the charm and loveliness of the ladies there he remarked, "How could such beautiful women come out of such hovels?" Being accustomed to the luxury and magnificence of the old-world palaces his idea of a hovel may be pardoned. One of the belles of the town, a Miss Bellette, an ancestor of Miss Emma Lou Barlow, hearing the remark told the Count that he would, undoubtedly, fall captive to the charms of some "hovel beauty." The enterprising young lady immediately set her own cap, and married the nobleman. They lived in the Paradise House and reared a large family. The Count seems to have been something of a wag, naming the last of his numerous children "Decimus Ultimus."
Mrs. Lee,Williamsburg in 1861p. 15

It passed from the family ownership when it was acquired from Mrs. Louise D. Steuart in 1927. An agreement between the attorneys for the two parties, dated Feb. 15, 1927, state that the purchase is upon condition that

"the owner is to furnish affidavits establishing that Virginia H. Slater was the sole heir at law of her father, James Lee, and that the grantors in a deed from the heirs at law of Virginia H. Slater to J.C. Slater, together with said J.C. Slater, were all of the heirs at law of their mother, Virginia H. Slater."

Thus, assuming that Virginia H. (Lee) Slater married Parks Slater, who paid taxes on the property "in right of wife", the chain of title from Philip Ludwell through Hannah Ludwell Lee seems to be correct; and that, even though the Paradise branch of the Ludwell family claimed the house and lived in it, they did not at any time own it.

Summer 1940

Genevieve Yost

Hunter D. Farish, Director