Papers of The Reverend William Ward, Bishop of Sodor and Man, and family

Scope and Content

The content consists of correspondence (1789-1841) of the Ward family to friends and other family members; for example, correspondence of Bishop William, Ann Snr, Charlotte, Mary Caroline, Anne Louisa, Caroline, Thomas William and William Harry Perceval. Further material relates to eleven individuals' correspondence (1774-1839) to several Ward family members; Bishop William, Ann Snr, Mary and Thomas Ward.

Other material relates to fragments of schemes for the poor law reform, ideas of Bishop Ward and his wife regarding education and speeches of Bishop Ward for the Bible Society. Documents written by Ann Ward relating to her family (including her maternal uncle Charles Greenwood 1748-1832) and her will are present. Writings of Mary Ward are included describing a visit to Plymouth (1800) and her sister Charlotte's eighteenth and twentieth birthday celebrations (1824 & 1826). Further items include a paper relating to William Jnr's institution at a rectory in Dorset, a pamphlet (written by Caroline Ward) relating to the Diocese of Sodor and Man (1896) and a small bundle of miscellaneous papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Ward (1762-1838), born in Saintfield, Ireland was the son of Adam Ward. Moving to London in 1782, William obtained a position as an usher in a school and became a private tutor in 1785. In 1787 Ward was accepted into Caius College, University of Cambridge, becoming a 'ten-year-man' and obtaining his Bachelor of Divinity (BD) in 1798. In 1788 he was ordained a deacon and in 1789 he was ordained a priest by Beilby Porteus (1731-1809), Bishop of London (1787-1809). The Reverend Ward was appointed to Curzon Chapel, Mayfair and then as chaplain to the 5th Duke of St Albans (1740-1802).

After the death of Thomas Robinson, 2nd Baron Grantham in 1786, Bishop Porteous was made guardian to his surviving sons, Thomas Philip Robinson (1781-1859), 2nd Earl de Grey and Frederick John Robinson (1782-1859), 1st Earl of Ripon. Porteous appointed Ward as the boys' private tutor. By the 1790s Ward was offered the Rector's position in Myland, Essex, remaining there until 1818 when he took up the Reverend's position in Great Horkesley, Essex from 1818-1827 (though he kept his living at Great Horkesley and divided his time between there and his duties on the Isle of Man) .

In 1805 Ward married Ann Hammersley (c.1773-1841), member of a prominent banking family; her father Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) was banker to the Prince of Wales (later George IV 1762-1830) and her mother Anne (c.1750-1822) was sister to Charles Greenwood Esq (1748-1832), a banker and army agent for Cox & Co. (a company which merged with Lloyds Bank in 1923). Between 1806 and 1816 William and Ann had five daughters and two sons; Charlotte (d.1828), Mary (d.1844), Thomas (d.1829), William (d.1875), Anne (1875), Amabel (d.1817) and Caroline (d.1901).

In 1827 his old pupil the Earl of Ripon (then Viscount Goderich) recommended Ward to the King to fill the vacant position of Bishop of Sodor and Man. Arriving on the Isle of Man Bishop Ward very soon began advocating the rebuilding of the old parish churches as well as establishing new churches. Bishop Ward increased church and congregation sizes in Douglas (especially St Barnabas' Church), Ballaugh, Onchan, Lezayre, Lonan, Kirk Michael and secluded mountain valleys such as Baldwin. Bishop Ward was instrumental in developing education on the Isle of Man. Joining forces with the Lieutenant Governor Cornelius Smelt (1748-1832), a day and boarding school called King William's College was established in Castletown and opened in August 1833. In the late 1830s the Church of England proposed the diocese of Sodor and Man should unite with the diocese of Carlisle (once the incumbent bishop left office). Opposing immediately, Bishop Ward (and the rest of the Manx clergy) fiercely stressed the Island's geographical, ethnic and constitutional distinctness; the opposition also highlighted the pastoral implications with a lack of resident bishop. By 1838, Bishop Ward's strong opposition forced the Church of England to repeal its proposal, securing the see of Sodor and Man for the future. In 1838 Bishop Ward died in office aged 75. He is buried in Great Horkesley alongside his wife Ann.

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Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from Edith C. Wilson's An Island Bishop: 1762-1838: Memorials of William Ward, D.D. Bishop of Sodor and Mann 1828-1838 (1931), Bishop Ward's obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine , April 1838 (M 09154) and Gerald Bray's (ed) Records of Convocation II Sodor and Man 1878-2003 (2005: 19). Further information was gathered from websites (accessed 24 February 2016), (accessed 24 February 2016) & (accessed 24 February 2016).

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), February 2016

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes various library resources. Other archival (and library) material includes further papers of the Ward family (reference numbers: M 08480, MS 00989 & MS 11127).


Some of the correspondence has been published in An Island Bishop: 1762-1838: Memorials of William Ward, D.D. Bishop of Sodor and Mann 1828-1838 , by Edith C. Wilson (Bishop Ward's granddaughter), London, 1931. See reference number: M 09154.