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.1875), 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.