Ward, John (1679?-1758) (DNB00)

WARD, JOHN (1679?–1758), biographer of the Gresham professors, son of John Ward, a dissenting minister, by his wife, Constancy Rayner, was born in London about 1679. For some years he was a clerk in the navy office, prosecuting his studies in leisure hours with the assistance of John Ker, who kept an academy, first in Highgate and afterwards in St. John's Square, Clerkenwell. He left the navy office in 1710, and opened a school in Tenter Alley, Moorfields, which he kept for many years. In 1712 he became one of the earliest members of a society composed principally of divines and lawyers, who met periodically in order to read discourses upon the civil law or upon the law of nature and nations. On 1 Sept. 1720 he was chosen professor of rhetoric in Gresham College (Ward, Gresham Professors, p. 334).

Ward was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, under the presidency of Sir Isaac Newton, on 30 Nov. 1723. He was often elected a member of the council of that society, and in 1752 he was appointed one of the vice-presidents (Thomson, Hist. of the Royal Society, App. No. 4, p. xxxvi). In August 1733 he made a journey through Holland and Flanders to Paris. He was elected on 5 Feb. 1735–6 a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, of which he became director on 15 Jan. 1746–7. In April 1753 he was appointed vice-president of that society (Gough, Chronological List, p. 6). He had joined another society formed by a number of noblemen and gentlemen for the encouragement of learning. Among the works printed at their expense were John Davis's edition of the ‘Dissertations of Maximus,’ issued under the supervision of Ward, and ‘Ælianus, De Natura Animalium,’ edited by Abraham Gronovius, who gratefully acknowledges the assistance he received from Ward. On 20 May 1751 the university of Edinburgh conferred upon Ward the degree of LL.D. He afterwards became a member of the Gentlemen's Society at Spalding. On the establishment of the British Museum he was elected one of the trustees. He died in his apartments in Gresham College on 17 Oct. 1758, and his remains were interred in the dissenters' burial-ground, Bunhill Fields.

A portrait of him was presented to the British Museum by Thomas Hollis, who had been under his tuition. An anonymous portrait is in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

His principal works are: 1. ‘De ordine, sive de venusta et eleganti tum vocabulorum, tum membrorum sententiæ collocatione,’ London, 1712, 8vo. 2. ‘De Asse et partibus ejus commentarius,’ London, 1719, 8vo (anon.); reprinted in ‘Monumenta vetustatis Kempiana,’ 1720. 3. ‘Ad Con. Middletoni de medicorum apud veteres Romanos degentium conditione dissertationem, quæ servilem atque ignobilem eam fuisse contendit, responsio,’ London [February 1726–7], 8vo. Conyers Middleton [q. v.] published a defence of his dissertation in 1727, and to this Ward replied in 4. ‘Dissertationis … de medicorum Romæ degentium conditione ignobili et servili defensio examinata,’ London, 1728, 8vo. 5. ‘The Lives of the Professors of Gresham College, to which is prefixed the Life of the Founder, Sir Thomas Gresham,’ London, 1740, fol. There is in the British Museum an interleaved copy of this valuable biographical work, with numerous manuscript additions and corrections by the author. It was evidently prepared for the press as the second edition. 6. ‘Four Essays upon the English Language,’ London, 1758, 8vo. 7. ‘A System of Oratory, delivered in a course of lectures publickly read at Gresham College, London,’ London, 1759, 2 vols. 8vo. The original manuscript is in the British Museum (Addit. MSS. 6263, 6264). 8. ‘Dissertations upon several Passages of the Sacred Scriptures,’ London, 1761, 8vo. The original manuscript is in the British Museum (Addit. MS. 6267). Several manuscript compilations by him are preserved in the British Museum, including: 1. ‘Journal of an Excursion through Holland and Part of Flanders to Paris,’ 1753 (Addit. MSS. 6235, 6236). 2. ‘Collections relating to the British Museum, 1753–8’ (Addit. MS. 6179). 3. ‘Memoirs relating to Gresham College’ (Addit. MSS. 6195–203). 4. ‘Miscellaneous Collections relating to Gresham College’ (Addit. MSS. 6193, 6194, 6206). 5. ‘Monumental and other inscriptions in Greek, Latin, and English’ (Addit. MS. 6243). 6. ‘Carmina puerilia’ (Addit. MS. 6242, p. 1). 7. ‘Essay on Polygamy’ (Addit. MS. 6262, f. 115). He also rendered valuable assistance in the publication of De Thou's ‘History,’ 1728; Ainsworth's ‘Latin Dictionary,’ 1736, and also the editions of 1746 and 1752; the works of Dr. George Benson; and the second edition of Martin Folkes's ‘Table of English Gold Coins.’ He translated into Latin the eighth edition of Dr. Mead's ‘Discourse of the Plague’ (1723), edited William Lily's ‘Latin Grammar’ in 1732, and contributed numerous papers to the ‘Philosophical Transactions.’

[Birch's Account of the Life of John Ward, ed. Maty; Nichols's Lit. Anecd.; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. vii. 431; Chalmers's Life of Ruddiman, p. 42.]

T. C.