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Ward, William (1769-1823) (DNB00)

WARD, WILLIAM (1769–1823), missionary, born at Derby on 20 Oct. 1769, was the son of John Ward, a carpenter and builder of that town, and grandson of Thomas Ward, a farmer at Stretton, near Burton in Staffordshire. His father died while he was a child, and the care of his upbringing devolved on his mother, a woman of great energy of character and of exemplary piety. He was placed with a schoolmaster named Congreve, near Derby, and afterwards with another named Breary. On leaving school he was bound apprentice to a printer and bookseller of Derby named Drewry, with whom he continued two years after the expiry of his indentures, assisting him to edit the ‘Derby Mercury.’ He then removed to Stafford, where he assisted Joshua Drewry, a relative of his former master, to edit the ‘Staffordshire Advertiser;’ and in 1794 or 1795 proceeded to Hull, where he followed his business as a printer, and was for some time editor of the ‘Hull Advertiser.’

Ward early in life became an anabaptist, and on 26 Aug. 1796, after many troubles of heart—‘fierce volcano fires not to be quenched by a mere sprinkling of words’—he was baptised at Hull. Preaching constantly in the neighbouring villages, he became known as a man of promise, and, with the assistance of a member of the baptist community named Fishwick, he proceeded in August 1797 to Ewood Hall, near Halifax in Yorkshire, the theological academy of John Fawcett (1740–1817) [q. v.], where he studied for a year and a half. In the autumn of 1798 the baptist mission committee visited Ewood, and Ward offered himself as a missionary, influenced perhaps by a remark made to him in 1793 by William Carey (1761–1834) [q. v.] concerning the need of a printer in the Indian mission field. He sailed from England in the Criterion in May 1799, in company with Joshua Marshman [q. v.] On arriving at Calcutta he was prevented from joining Carey by an order from government, and was obliged to proceed to the Danish settlement of Serampúr, where he was joined by Carey.

In India Ward's time was chiefly occupied in superintending the printing press, by means of which the scriptures, translated into Bengáli, Mahratta, Tamil, and twenty-three other languages, were disseminated throughout India. Numerous philological works were also issued. Ward found time, however, to keep a copious diary and to preach the gospel to the natives. Until 1806 he made frequent tours among the towns and villages of the province, but after that year the increasing claims of the press on his time, and the extension of the missionary labours in Serampúr and Calcutta, prevented him quitting headquarters. In 1812 the printing office was destroyed by fire. It contained the types of all the scriptures that had been printed, to the value of at least ten thousand pounds. The moulds for casting fresh type, however, were recovered from the débris, and by the liberality of friends in Great Britain the loss was soon repaired.

In 1818 Ward, having been for some time in bad health, revisited England. He was entrusted with the task of pleading for funds with which to endow a college at Serampúr for the purpose of instructing natives in European literature and science. He undertook a series of journeys through England and Scotland, and also visited Holland and North Germany. In October 1820 he embarked for New York, and travelled through the United States, returning to England in April 1821. On 28 May he sailed for India in the Alberta, bearing 3,000l. for the new college, which had been founded during his absence, and which is still successfully carried on. He died of cholera at Serampúr on 7 March 1823, and was interred in the mission burial-ground. On 10 May 1802 he was married at Serampúr to the widow of John Fountain, a missionary, by whom he left two daughters.

Besides sermons, Ward was the author of: 1. ‘Account of the Writings, Religion, and Manners of the Hindoos,’ Serampúr, 1811, 4 vols. 4to; 5th edit., abridged, Madras, 1863, 8vo. 2. ‘Farewell Letters in Britain and America on returning to Bengal in 1821,’ London, 1821, 12mo; 2nd edit. 1821. 3. ‘Brief Memoir of Krishna-Pal, the first Hindoo, in Bengal, who broke the Chain of the Cast by embracing the Gospel;’ 2nd edit., London, 1823, 12mo. He was also the author of several sonnets and short poems which were printed as an appendix to a memoir of him by Samuel Stennett. A portrait, engraved by R. Baker from a painting by Overton, is prefixed to the same work.

[Stennett's Memoirs of the Life of William Ward, 1825; Memoir of William Ward, Philadelphia; Simpson's Life prefixed to ‘View of History, Literature, and Religion of the Hindoos,’ 1863; Marshman's Carey, Marshman, and Ward, 1864.]

E. I. C.