Ward, William George

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Theologian and author; b. London, England, March 21, 1812; d. there, July 6, 1882. He was educated privately in part and at Winchester College, where he won the gold medal for Latin prose. At Oxford he was first a commoner of Christ Church, then a scholar at Lincoln, and finally (1834) a fellow of Balliol, when he took minor orders in the Anglican church. He had early manifested great ability in mathematics and made positive contributions to the science of logarithms, but he had as well a keen aptitude for philosophy. He took a leading part in debate in the Oxford Union and became its president in 1832. At Balliol he showed a zest for controversy, his chief opponent being Archibald Campbell Tait, later archbishop of Canterbury. Ward became the close friend of Benjamin Jowett, a fellow tutor; Arthur Stanley, later dean of Westminster; and Arthur Hugh Clough, the poet. Ward was one of the strongest opponents of the Evangelicals (Low Church Anglicans); but he was equally opposed to the new Broad Church, represented by Jowett, Richard Whately, and Thomas Arnold, being progressively convinced of the importance of ecclesiastical authority. He was ordained in 1840, but his pamphlets in support of John Henry Newman resulted in deprivation of his lectureship and tutorial position in Balliol (1841), though he was allowed to continue as bursar.

Ward began to frequent Catholic seminaries and colleges, where he felt instinctively at home. He published The Ideal of a Christian Church, Considered in Comparison with Existing Practice (1844), which gained him the nickname "Ideal" Ward. He was summoned before university authorities; and when he refused to disavow the work or even parts of it, the book was formally censored and Ward was degraded by the vote of a large majority of convocation. He then resigned his fellowship, settled near Oxford, and was received into the Roman church on Sept. 5, 1845, just ahead of Newman. The following year he began to lecture in philosophy at St. Edmund's College, the seminary at Ware, Hertfordshire, and six years later, under Cardinal Nicholas wiseman's sponsorship, was appointed professor of theology, a unique position for a layman. He published his lectures as a book, On Nature and Grace (1858), only part of a more ambitious work he had planned. The same year he resigned his lectureship and retired to his inherited estates in the Isle of Wight.

Ward continued his intellectual activity and became a great opponent of liberal Catholics such as Johannes dÖllinger, Charles montalembert, and J. E. acton; in 1861 he left the Isle of Wight, settled near St. Edmund's College, and became editor of the Dublin Review (1863), which he made highly influential between 1863 and 1878. He defended Pius IX's syllabus of errors and espoused an extreme ultramontanism, which was congenial to Abp. Henry Edward manning, his friend and protector. Deeply upset at the influence of the moderate party at vatican council i, Ward was further distressed when the all-embracing definition of papal infallibility that he hoped was not forthcoming. He sided with Manning against Newman in holding that Catholics should not be exposed to the "corrupting influences" of Oxford and Cambridge, and was instrumental in the foundation of the Metaphysical Society in 1869.

Despite the vehement expression of his extreme views, Ward was singularly good-tempered and managed to retain friendship even with his most vigorous adversaries. He was a stout, genial, easy man, though it was said he did not care to see anything of his children until they were old enough to argue with him. He retired in his later years to the Isle of Wight, where he was the neighbor and close friend of Tennyson; but he came to Hampstead for the musical entertainment that London offered. There he had other friends, particularly Richard Holt Hutton, editor of the Spectator, and Baron Friedrich von hÜgel. He was buried in the Isle of Wight where he had a large property.

Bibliography: w. p. ward, William George Ward and the Oxford Movement (New York 1889); William George Ward and the Catholic Revival (New York 1893). m. ward, The Wilfred Wards and the Transition, 2 v. (New York 193437). d. mcelrath, The Syllabus of Pius IX: Some Reactions in England (Louvain 1964).

[d. woodruff]