WARD, John (1779-1855), of Holwood House, Keston and Calverley, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



11 Feb. 1830 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 22 Dec. 1779, 2nd s. of William Ward (d. 1811) and Catherine, da. and h. of Thomas Nevill of Blackburn, Lancs. m. 27 Nov. 1806, Jane Frances, da. of Robert Lambert of Elland Hall, nr. Halifax, Yorks., 5s. (3 d.v.p.) 2da. d.v.p. d. 24 Feb. 1855.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Kent 1835-6.


Despite the existence in nineteenth century editions of Burke’s Landed Gentry of pedigrees covering five generations of this Member’s family, some obscurities remain concerning his immediate antecedents. His father William Ward (b.1743) was the youngest son of Samuel Ward (1707-47), described by Burke (although it cannot be verified) as a barrister, and his wife Elizabeth Dodgson of Leeds. After being widowed, she raised their sons in a house in the precincts of York Minster, inherited by her first husband. William Ward married a Lancashire heiress, probably the daughter of a Blackburn attorney, and was in business by 1795 as a merchant in London, trading variously as Ward and Company or William Ward and Son of 3 Basinghall Street. The Blackburn property and their father’s trading fortune (his will was proved under £25,000, 19 Feb. 1813) devolved upon Ward, then of Grove House, Tooting and his brother Samuel Nevill Ward (1773-1850) of Balham House, Surrey.1 Ward and Lambert, Irish linen and calico factors, Ward’s partnership with his in-laws, shared the same trading address in the 1811 London directories (33 Cateaton Street) as William and John Ward, merchants and insurance agents. That firm became Samuel and John Ward and Company in 1812, had moved to 46½ Coleman Street by 1813, and from 1815, when their brother-in-law William Edwards (formerly of Tokenhouse Yard) joined their broking firm, Ward and Edwards, they traded at 3 Packers Court, Coleman Street. Ward and Lambert disappeared from trade directories by 1817. The Packers Court firms were listed until 1824.2 Retiring from trade, the Ward brothers invested in land in the Bromley area of Kent, where Samuel acquired the estate of Baston, near Hayes, and John purchased Holwood, once the property of the younger William Pitt†, and the adjoining duchy of Lancaster manor of Farnborough in 1823. He replaced Pitt’s modest house with a Grecian mansion designed by the architect Decimus Burton and bought the Calverley estate in the Mount Pleasant area of the spa resort of Tunbridge Wells, where Burton was responsible, 1828-35, for a development of fashionable villas and terraces, with a park, shops and other amenities, inspired by Nash’s Regent’s Park scheme. Calverley House, where Princess Victoria stayed in 1827, was enlarged and opened as an hotel in 1840.3

In January 1830, having made overtures in London the previous year, Ward came forward on a vacancy for the open and venal borough of Leominster, where the incumbent Rowland Stephenson had been bankrupted under the twelve-month rule. Notices described him as a man of ‘large property’ and ‘independent principles’, with no party affiliation. Having ‘tied up his election’ before the writ was ordered, 4 Feb., he easily saw off his challengers.4 He took his seat, 9 Mar. 1830, and, aligning with the revived Whig opposition, voted to halve the grant for volunteers that day. No parliamentary speeches by Ward were reported, but he divided against government on the East Retford disfranchisement bill, 15 Mar., and steadily with opposition until 9 July, including for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 28 May. Confusion surrounds his votes on the abolition of capital punishment for forgery, 24 May, 7 June: on the first occasion he was twice listed in the majority in its favour but omitted from a ‘corrected’ list; on the second he was named on both sides in different lists.5 Transferring his local interest to the young Yorkshire squire William Marshall*, he stood down at Leominster at the dissolution of 1830. Although mooted there subsequently as a ‘rich stranger’ and toasted by the Kent reformers in June 1831, he did not stand for Parliament again.6 He stated in his resignation notice, 20 July 1830:

To my great regret that great object [remaining a healthy and active Member] has been disappointed by the want of method and arrangement in the conduct, or rather in the mismanagement, of the business of the ... Commons, where the time and health of its Members have been sacrificed without result, and where desultory conversations and equally frivolous discussions have absorbed nearly the whole of that attention which should have been occupied by useful business; so that during the late laborious session of six months, no more business has been effected than might well have been performed in a single month.7

Ward’s investment in urban development was matched by his brother, who in 1845 owned 39 leasehold houses in Albany Street, Gloucester Terrace, Park Square and St. Andrew’s Place on the Regent’s Park scheme. John Ward had properties in Clarence Terrace and York Terrace in the same area, and he seems to have sold Holwood to the railway contractor Thomas Brassey before he made his will, 13 Aug. 1852. He died in February 1855 at his London residence in Park Street, Grosvenor Square, having devised and divided the Calverley estate and his other property equally between his surviving sons Arthur Wellesley Ward (1813-1900) and Neville Ward (1814-72).8

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Margaret Escott / David R. Fisher


  • 1. Burke LG (1846), ii. 1516; (1855), 1282; W.A. Abram, Hist. Blackburn, 401; PROB 11/1542/110; IR26/595/56.
  • 2. Kent’s London Dir. 1793-1815; London Post Office Dir. 1815-24.
  • 3. Arch. Cantiana, xxiv (1900), 157-8; lix (1946), 12-13; C. Freeman, Hist. Bromley, 33; G. Clinch, Antiquarian Jottings, 140-1; W.H. Hewlett Cooper, Old Keston, 20-21; F.S. Gammon, Story of Keston, 27; J. Britton, Descriptive Sketches of Tunbridge Wells, 44, 53-56; J. Phippen, New Guide for Tunbridge Wells, 47-51; H.R. Knipe, Tunbridge Wells, 19, 22, 26-29.
  • 4. The Times, 21 Dec. 1829; CJ, lxxxv. 3-4; Hereford Jnl. 6, 13 Jan., 17 Feb. 1830; Derbys. RO, Gresley of Drakelow mss D77/36/7.
  • 5. The Times, 1 June 1830.
  • 6. Hereford Jnl. 4, 18 Aug. 1830, 4 May, 28 Dec.; The Times, 8 June 1831.
  • 7. Hereford Jnl. 28 July 1830.
  • 8. PROB 8/248 (13 Mar. 1855); 11/2124/929; 2209/277; Hewlett Cooper, 20-21; Gent. Mag. (1855), i. 445.