Ludlow, Edmund (1616/17–1692), army officer and regicide, was the son of Sir Henry Ludlow (1592?–1643) of Maiden Bradley, Wiltshire, a radical MP in the Long parliament, and his wife, Elizabeth (d. 1660), daughter of Richard Phelips of Montacute, Somerset. On 10 September 1634 he matriculated at Trinity College, Oxford, aged seventeen, and he graduated BA there on 14 November 1636; he was admitted to the Inner Temple, London, in 1638. At the outbreak of the English civil war in 1642 he joined the earl of Essex's lifeguard on the side of parliament and fought at a number of engagements, including the battle of Edgehill. In April 1643 he became captain of a troop in Colonel Hungerford's cavalry regiment and, a month later, was appointed governor of Wardour castle, where he gained a reputation as a good soldier after his stout defence of the castle. When it fell, Ludlow was imprisoned at Oxford until he was exchanged in the summer of 1644. He was appointed sheriff of Wiltshire in July 1644 and was commissioned by Sir William Waller as a colonel to recruit soldiers in the county. For the remainder of the civil war he spent most of his time subduing the region for parliament. In 1644 he fought at the second battle of Newbury and at the siege of Basing House, and in 1646 he was elected MP for Wiltshire. Opposed to negotiations with the king, he was one of the judges who participated at the trial of Charles I in 1649 and signed the king's death warrant.
In June 1650 Ludlow was selected by Oliver Cromwell (qv) to go to Ireland as second in command to Henry Ireton (qv), and was appointed a lieutenant general of horse and a commissioner for civil government. Ludlow was initially unwilling to accept these appointments, but they were approved by parliament and by the council of state and he subsequently agreed. He arrived at Waterford in January 1651 with a troop of horse, which was formed into a regiment and was active during the latter stages of the war in Ireland. He captured Gort castle and was present at the siege of Limerick, where he opposed the proposed execution of the city governor, General Hugh O'Neill (qv). After the death of Ireton in November 1651 Ludlow acted as commander in Ireland until the arrival of Charles Fleetwood (qv) in October 1652. During this period he spent his time reducing the remaining royalist strongholds: he suppressed guerrillas in Wicklow and accepted the surrender of royalist leaders, such as Donough MacCarthy (qv), Viscount Muskerry, and Ulick Burke (qv), earl of Clanricarde. He approved the government's plantation policy and he was granted the estate of Walter Cheevers in Monkstown, Co. Dublin, in settlement of his arrears of pay.
A strong republican, Ludlow became disillusioned with Cromwell's assumption of power and, in 1654, obstructed and delayed his proclamation as protector. After this he relinquished his position as a commissioner for civil government in Ireland and retired to his house in Monkstown, though he continued to retain his military commission. His regiment was disbanded in 1655, its members being granted land in Co. Wexford in lieu of pay. Ludlow's circulation of anti-government petitions led Fleetwood to seek the surrender of his military commission, which he refused. He offered to go to England to defend his position and, although Fleetwood approved, the Irish council ordered him to remain in Ireland. When he arrived in Wales in October 1655 he was arrested and imprisoned for six weeks at Beaumaris, on the island of Anglesey. After this period he was permitted to continue his journey, and he met Cromwell in December 1655; in 1656 he was finally permitted to live with relatives in Essex, provided he did not return to Wiltshire, where he was very popular.
In January 1659 Ludlow was returned to parliament as member for Hindon. He opposed the recognition of Richard Cromwell as protector; with the recall of the Long parliament in May 1659 he was in a prominent position and was elected a member of the council of state. In July that year he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Irish army and, on his arrival in Ireland, he set about reorganising the army. When this work was completed he installed a surrogate commander and in October 1659 returned to England, where the army had again expelled the Long parliament; he endeavoured to mediate between the two sides, but in December was obliged to return to Ireland. A number of officers and former officers, most of whom he had purged in the summer, had combined to seize Dublin castle, overthrow the parliamentary commissioners, and set up a new council of officers as an interim government. These officers drew up articles of impeachment against Ludlow and prevented him from landing in Dublin. On 5 January 1660 he landed instead at Duncannon from where he attempted to rally the army against the coup before being recalled to London to answer the charges against him.
In England he became involved in plotting a republican rising against the impending restoration of Charles II and defiantly secured election to the English convention which declared for monarchy on 1 May. His election was voided on 18 May and he went into hiding while the question of the punishment of regicides was debated. In August, deciding that his life was in danger, he left England. He travelled first to Geneva, then to Lausanne, before finally settling at Vevey, where the Swiss government granted him protection. Although he kept abreast of affairs in England, he did not become directly involved in any plots or conspiracies, as he felt they had little chance of success, but he was widely reported to have engaged in plots in Ireland (including the attempt by Thomas Blood (qv) to seize Dublin castle in 1663). The lands he had received in Ireland were seized for Charles II and several attempts on his life proved unsuccessful. In 1689 he went to London for a short while, but a reward was offered for his capture and he returned to Switzerland. In exile he wrote his memoirs, which are prefixed with his portrait and contain one of the most detailed accounts of the civil war.
Ludlow died in November 1692 and was buried at St Martin's Church, Vevey. He had married Elizabeth, daughter of William Thomas of Wenvoe, Glamorganshire, in 1649, but the couple had no children. In 1694 his widow married Sir John Thomas; she died in February 1702, aged seventy-two.