Irish Franciscan missionary; b. Ulster, date unknown; d. probably at the Franciscan friary of Donegal, 1641. Of Ward's early life nothing is known with certainty. It is likely that he studied for the priesthood at Salamanca, Spain. He was at St. Anthony's College, Louvain, in 1623, and toward the end of that year was chosen with three other members of the community for the mission to the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, where the Irish Franciscans had arrived a few years earlier. He made many hundreds of converts and brought thousands back to the faith. On two occasions (1626, 1629) he visited the nuncio at Brussels to promote the interests of the mission. While passing through London from Belgium toward the end of 1629, he was arrested, tortured and then imprisoned for two years. On obtaining his freedom through the intervention of the Polish ambassador, Ward traveled to Danzig and eventually reached Rome, where he pleaded the cause of the mission. In November 1635 he returned to Scotland, and he labored there till August 1637. In September 1640, because of ill health, he retired permanently from the mission. Besides conducting his mission work in the Irish language, Ward wrote some poetry in that tongue.
Bibliography: c. giblin, ed., Irish Franciscan Mission to Scotland, 1619–1646 (Dublin 1964), passim. l. wadding, Scriptores Ordinis Minorum 26 (1623–27) 122, 449–450, 545; 27 (1628–32) 65, 140, 259; 28 (1633–40) 173–174, 405, 529, 581. Archivium Hibernicum 12 (1946) 115–117, 118–119, 126–127, 148–149, 190–192, 193–195.