Google the name “Lucy Ludwell” and chances are that one of the first search results you will get refers to “colonial ghosts.” Walk into a shop in Colonial Williamsburg and mention the name “Ludwell” and you’re likely to hear about “Mad Lucy Ludwell.” Unfortunately, you won’t hear much about the real human being who lived some of her final years in Colonial Williamsburg’s Ludwell-Paradise House.
At a time when efforts to understand and sympathize with “personality types” and mental illness are growing, it seems that Lucy Ludwell’s fate has been cruelly sealed as, simply, “Mad Lucy” or even “Looney Lucy.” But who was Lucy Ludwell, really?
Lucy Ludwell Paradise was a Virginia native who grew up largely in London prior to the American Revolution. She and her Anglo-Greek polyglot husband, John Paradise, were friends and correspondents with famous Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams. What’s more, John Paradise was arguably the first naturalized citizen of the new United States. Finally, as the youngest daughter of Philip Ludwell III, the first known American convert to Orthodox Christianity, Lucy was an Orthodox Christian .