Select Ward Surname Genealogy

The English surname Ward has two and possibly three derivations:  
  • the first being occupational, a weard or guard or keeper of the watch
  • the second topographical, one who lived by a werd or marsh
  • while an early Ward family in Yorkshire claimed a Norman descent, from Fouques de Vardes of Normandy. 
Ward in Ireland came about during the English occupation, being an anglicization of earlier Gaelic names.

Select Ward Resources on The Internet

England.  Robert le Warde, recorded in the 1273 Oxfordshire rolls, was a guard; while Walter de la Warde, in the Suffolk rolls of the same year, lived by a fen.   The early spelling of the surname was Warde, although it generally later became Ward.

Wards were substantial landowners at Givendale near Ripon in north Yorkshire in the late 13th century.  Sir Simon Ward was sheriff of Yorkshire in 1315.  This line died out in the early 1500’s. 

First records of another Ward line began in Norfolk in 1363 when John Ward obtained the manor of Kirby Bedon through marriage.  This family was described as lesser Norfolk gentry.  However, they took a step upward when Edward Ward was able to take possession of Bixley Hall at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.  The main branch of this Ward family continued as local gentry there until the 18th century.  Sir Edward Ward who died of a fever in 1742 at the young age of 21 was much lamented.

In the early 1600’s William Ward, a sixth son of this family who saw no prospects at home, departed for London where he became apprenticed as a jeweller.  In time he became a very wealthy jeweller and goldsmith to royalty:
  • his son Humble Ward married into the well-born Dudley family.  
  • and their descendants, based at Sedgeley in Staffordshire, became the Earls of Dudley. 
The first Earl of Dudley was briefly British Foreign Secretary in 1827.  Many later Wards were Conservative politicians.  The actress Rachel Ward came from this family.

John Ward, of uncertain origins, served in the British capture of Gibraltar in 1704 and stayed on.  His descendants were merchants there and later in London.  George Ward became a large landowner on the Isle of Wight. 

The 19th century surname distribution showed the Ward name to be found more in the north of England, with 30% in Yorkshire and Lancashire.  

Ireland.  Ward appeared in Donegal and Galway as an anglicization of the Gaelic mac an Bhaird, meaning "son of the bard."  The Mac an Bhairds, dating from the 11th century, originally served as the bards to the O'Donnells in Donegal and the O'Kellys in Galway and were among the learned families of late medieval Ireland.  Aedh Buidh Mac an Bhaird or, in his anglicized form, Hugh Ward was born in Donegal in 1593 and is considered the father of Irish archaeology.  Other Donegal names such as MacWard and Deward became Ward as well over the course of the 19th century. 

The Wards of county Down, the head of whose family was Viscount Bangor, came from England, however.  The line began with Bernard Ward from Cheshire who had been appointed Surveyor General of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth.  In 1570 he acquired Castle Ward in Strangford, county Down which was to be the family home.  A later Bernard Ward rebuilt the castle in the 18th century.

.  Andrew Ward may have been the first Ward in America, arriving in 1633 and later settling in Fairfield, Connecticut where he died in 1660.  He obviously was a person of some importance as there is a special monument to him in Fairfield’s old burying grounds.

William Ward came to Sudbury in 1639 and later settled in Marlborough, Massachusetts.  Nahum Ward, a sea captain, bought land in what became the town of Shrewsbury, which was where Artemas Ward, the Major General during the Revolutionary War, was born.  His home there is now the Artemas Ward HouseA later Artemas Ward became a successful businessman in the early 1900’s:

“It was said that Artemas Ward gave over four million dollars to Harvard University on condition that they erect a statue in honor of General Ward.  Harvard provided the money for a statue, but not enough to give the general a horse.”

Meanwhile one line of these Wards had moved north to New Brunswick in Canada in the 1760’s.

More than half of the Wards that came to America sailed from Irish ports.  Some early arrivals, Scots Irish, were:
  • James Ward who came from Donegal to Philadelphia around 1730 and settled with his three sons in Augusta county, Virginia.  
  • and John Ward also from Donegal, who settled in Amberson Valley in Pennsylvania sometime in the 1760’s.
Francis Ward had come to South Carolina from Antrim in Ireland around 1730.  He married there the daughter of a Cherokee chief, but was later banished from the tribe.  Their daughter Nancy married his nephew Bryant.  However, this marriage also did not last:
  • Nancy, known as “Beloved Woman,” became a much-respected mediator between the Cherokees and white settlers and lived onto 1822. 
  • while Bryant died in Georgia in 1808.  His descendants through his son John were part of the Cherokee forced emigration from Georgia in the 1830’s.
James Ward emigrated from Donegal in 1860 and went to work in the Pittsburgh iron and steel mills.  The family story is that he had a stroke at the mill and his 14 year old son Michael had to go to work in a glass factory to support the family.

Australia.  Michael West was a convict from London brought to Australia in 1815.  His youngest son was the famous Australian bushranger Fred Ward.

Select Ward Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Ward Names

John Ward
, born in Canterbury in 1571, was a composer of madrigals.
Jack Ward was an English pirate who became a Barbary Corsair at the turn of the 17th century.
Artemas Ward was one of Washington's most trusted generals in the Revolutionary War.
Montgomery Ward was the American businessman who founded the mail order firm of his name in 1872.
Joseph Ward was New Zealand's Prime Minister twice in the early 20th century.
Barbara Ward was a 20th century British economist involved in the problems of developing countries.
Stephen Ward was the London society osteopath in the 1960’s who committed suicide when the Profumo scandal broke out.

Select Wards Today
  • 126,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 97,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 71,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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