Irish Franciscan historian: b. Ulster, c. 1593; d. Louvain, Belgium, Nov. 8, 1635. Ward belonged to a family noted for its poets and chroniclers. The chief family residence was at Lettermac-Bhaird in County Donegal. Ward studied humanities for six years in Ireland under different masters. He then went abroad, and registered as a student at the university of Salamanca, Jan. 15, 1612. While there, he came under the influence of Luke wadding, OFM, and joined the Franciscan Order at Salamanca in 1616.
Ward left for Paris in 1623, and on his way, as well as in Paris, he sought out manuscripts containing lives of Irish saints, a collection of which he intended to publish. In the same year Patrick fleming, OFM, who was also gathering Irish hagiographical material, met Ward in Paris. They decided to collaborate. In the autumn of 1623 Ward went to Louvain, visiting libraries at Rouen, Harfleur, and Nantes in search of manuscripts. He was made lector of theology at St. Anthony's College and on April 26, 1626, was chosen guardian. Through his influence Brother Michael O'Clery was sent to Ireland in 1626 to gather documents in the Irish language from the old books that had escaped destruction.
Ward planned the publication of the acts of the principal Irish saints in several volumes with appendices and notes; the remaining history of Ireland was to be prefixed to the whole work by way of prolegomena. He sent the plan of these prolegomena to Luke Wadding at Rome and sought his help in the undertaking. Among other works planned by Ward was a disquisition on the ancient names of Ireland, and an Hiberno-Latin martyrology. At the request of the archbishop of Malines he wrote a life of St. Rumold. In 1633 Ward acted as visitator of the Franciscan houses of the province of St. Andrew in Belgium. He died before any of his work appeared in print. His life of St. Rumold was published in 1662, and his work on the Irish saints whose feastdays fell in January, February, and March was the basis of John Colgan's Acta Sanctorum, which appeared in 1645.
Bibliography: b. jennings, Michael 0'Cléirigh, Chief of the Four Masters, and His Associates (Dublin 1936), passim; ed., Wadding Papers, 1614–1638 (Dublin 1953) 189, 294, 299, 386–388, 414. f. o'brien, "Irish Franciscan Historians of St. Anthony's College, Louvain: Father Hugh Ward," The Irish Ecclesiastical Record 32 (1928) 113–129. Archivium Hibernicum 2 (1913) 29.