Ward Clan Coat of Arms


Ward Surname Facts


Ward is an occupational name for a guard or watchman, from the Old English weard, meaning "guard." It is also a geographical name for a person who lived near a guardhouse or fortress.[1]


This is one of the great surnames of Britain. Deriving from the pre-1066 Norman era, it has two quite distinct origins, one Olde English and the other Gaelic. The 'English' nameholders themselves have two possible derivations, the first being occupational for a civil guard or keeper of the watch and the second topographical, and describing one who lived by a werd - a marsh. Certainly there can be no doubt that Walter de la Warde recorded in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk lived by a fen, whilst equally Robert le Warde in the Oxfordshire Rolls for the same year of 1273, was a guard. Maelisa Macaward was bishop of Clonfert, County Galway, in 1179. In Scotland John de Warde was recorded as being a tenant of the Earl of Douglas in 1376. The surname was also one of the first into the new American Colonies, John Ward of 'Elizabeth Cittie, Virginia' being a recorded as head of his 'muster' on February 24, 1624.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de la Warda, which was dated 1176, in the 'Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire', during the reign of King Henry II, known as 'the church builder', 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.[2]


Ward is a popular Old English origin and Old Gaelic origin surname dating to before the Norman conquest of 1066. The Old English name derives from an occupational surname for a civil guard/keeper of the watch, or alternately as a topographical surname from the word "werd" ("marsh"). The Old Gaellic surname derives from "Mac an Bhaird" ("son of the Bard"). The two names are completely unrelated ethnically one being Germanic and the other Celtic. The oldest public record of the surname dates to 1176.[3]

The name Ward in Ireland is derived from the native Gaelic Mac An Bhaird Septs who were most prominent in Counties Galway and Donegal. The name was also brought into the country, especially Ulster, by settlers from England and Scotland in the seventeenth century.[4] The Irish form of the name was reduced form of McWard, an Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac an Bhaird (‘son of the poet’). The surname occurs throughout Ireland, where three different branches of the family are known as professional poets.[5]

Ward surname adopted by bearers of the Jewish surname Warshawski, Warshawsky or some other Jewish name bearing some similarity to the English name.[6]

Americanized form of French Guerin.[7]


It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Ward are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Ward include Ward, Warde, Varde and others. First found in Northampton, where they held a family seat from ancient times, and the first on record was Osbert de Varde of Givendale[8] in the year 1130, who was a descendant of Fouques de Vardes of Normandy. His descendent Simon Ward was Governor of Pontefract Castle in 1324.[9]


Top Places of Immigrant Origin for Ward:[10]

Place of Origin Number of Ward Immigrants
Great Britain717

Some of the first settlers of this family name or some of its variants were: Andrew Ward, who settled in New England in 1630; Elizabeth Ward, who settled in Virginia in 1635; George and Henry Ward, who settled in Boston Mass. in 1637.[11]


Ward is the 71st most popular surname in the United States. Ward is also popular in England, coming in as the 31st most common surname.[12]


(1) Sir John Warde of Surrey

The original coat of arms was born by Sir John Warde of Surrey, at the siege of Calais in 1345. This had the blazon of a blue field charged with a gold cross flory, and is one of the most ancient of all 'arms' on record. The Irish Ward's prominent in Galway and Donegal are claimed to derive their name from the Old Gaelic Mac an Bhaird, translating as 'the Son of the Bard'.[16]

(2) Ward family crest (English)

House of Names reference.[17]

(3) Ward family crest (Irish)

House of Names reference.[18]

(4) Ward family crest (British)

Our Ward Family Tree Website reference.[19]

Some noteworthy people of the name Ward

  1. Aaron Montgomery Ward (1843-1913), Founder of mail-order business called Montgomery Ward & Co.
  2. Dame Barbara Mary Ward (1914-1981), English economist
  3. Clifford Thomas Ward (1944-2001), English singer-songwriter
  4. Dame Geneviève Ward (1838-1922), American prima donna and actress
  5. Sergeant James Allen Ward (1919-1941), New Zealand aviator awarded the Victoria Cross during WWII
  6. Seaman First Class James Richard Ward (1921-1941), Medal of Honor recipient for heroism at Pearl Harbor in 1941
  7. James Ward (1843-1925), English psychologist and philosopher
  8. Sir Joseph George Ward (1856-1930), Australian-born New Zealand statesman, Prime Minister (1906-12, 1928-30)
  9. Sir Leslie Ward (1851-1922), English portrait artist and caricaturist
  10. Lester Frank Ward (1841-1913), American botanist, sociologist and paleontologist
  11. Mother Mary Ward (1585-1645), English religious reformer
  12. Nancy Ward (1736-1822), Ghigau, Beloved Woman of the Cherokee nation, Patriot in the American Revolution
  13. Nathaniel Ward (1579-1652), English lawyer
  14. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward (1791-1868), English physician and botanist
  15. Major General Orlando Ward (1891-1972), U.S. Army officer during World Wars I and II, developed key Forward Observer procedures in Field Artillery between the wars
  16. Rachel Ward (b. 1957), British actress
  17. Seth Ward (1617-1689), English mathematician, astronomer, and bishop
  18. William George Ward (1812-1882), English theologian

External Ward Surname Resources

Ward family tree and history-related websites

  1. Our Ward Family Website
  2. Ward surnames with photos at WeRelate
  3. GenForum: Ward Family Genealogy Forum
  4. Ward Surname in Dawes Rolls

Suggested Readings for the name Ward

  1. A Genealogical Record of the Wards of Big Sandy by Billie Edyth Ward
  2. A Scattered People: An American Family Moves West by Gerald W. McFarland
  3. The Noble Family of Ward by James Mayfield Ward

Other On-Line Ward Resources

  1. Family Tree Circles: WARD Family Tree and Genealogy Research
  2. Historical records search results for Ward name
  3. One Great Family: Search results for Ward surname
  4. The Irish Gathering: The Ward Clan Coat of Arms and History
  5. The Ward Surname
  6. Wikipedia: Ward Surname

References & Sources

  1. Genealogy: WARD - Name Meaning & Origin, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  2. Surname Database: Ward, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  3. Wikipedia: Ward surname, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  4. The Irish Gathering website, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  5. Ward Name Meaning and History
  6. Ward Name Meaning and History
  7. Ward Name Meaning and History
  8. See Descendants of Osbert de Varde by David Thaler for further genealogical information on this name.
  9. House of Names: Ward Family Crest (English version)
  10. Compiled by from the New York Passenger Lists. Ward Family Facts (Places of Origin)
  11. Coat of Arms Store: Ward Coat of Arms
  12. Genealogy: WARD - Name Meaning & Origin, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  13. Family Facts
  14. Ward Family Facts
  15. Ward Family Facts
  16. Surname Database: Ward, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  17. House of Names: Ward Family Crest (English), as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  18. House of Names: Ward Family Crest (Irish), as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.
  19. Our Ward Family Tree Website, as accessed by BobC on 23 June 2010.