William Ward

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William Ward, whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), was born at England, say 1603.1,2,3,4 He died at Marlborough, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts, 10 August 1687.2

William had two wives, the first unknown (but perhaps Elizabeth Phillips--see below); he married (2) Elizabeth (…), whose ancestry is unknown (or not traced here), about 1638.5,2,6

William Ward's ancestry remains unknown. There are some baptism dates for his first five children floating around the 'net, but they are unsourced. While reasonable, and consistent with the years of birth promulgated in the published vital records of Sudbury, Marlborough, and Newtown, without a source it's impossible to judge their veracity.

There are also some marriage dates, including one that is very likely, between William Ward, leather seller of St. Sepulchre parish, and Elizabeth Phillips of Crewkerne, 4 May 1626. But there is nothing to tie this William Ward to the immigrant of 1639. The parish registers of St. Sepulchre do not begin until 1662, and the published records of Crewkerne do not show the baptisms of the expected Ward children.

That he had two wives, the second named Elizabeth, with children by both, is evident from his will, but he does not name all of his children, nor does he identify which of those he does name were by which wife. The Ward Family (1851) notes that his widow, ". . . made several journies to Boston, as appears by the Probate records there . . ." The record copy books of Suffolk Co. probate records are filmed, but do not contain the settlement papers. The probate packet contains only the will and inventory, same as the record copy.

A review of the sources Torrey used to identify William Ward's marriages does not shed any further light. The Newton Genealogy (1915) (note at 176) seems to be the first reference to identify the second wife as Elizabeth Storey. No sources are given.

In 1931, the author of "The Ancestry of Brigham Young" in the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, wrote, "Nothing more can be learned of William Ward." I believe she misspoke, for there is much of record on this Great Migration immigrant, settler (and proprietor) of two Massachusetts towns, and church Deacon. Admittedly, his ancestry and origins in England do remain unknown.

William Ward testified in a court proceeding that he was "sixty one or thereabouts," 4 October 1664.4

William came to Sudbury in 1639 with his first five children and probably shortly thereafter married his second wife, Elizabeth.

In Sudbury he was initially granted three parcels of 4 1/2, 11, and 7 3/4 acres, totaling 23 1/4 acres7. He was made freeman on 10 May 1643,8 and was one of six to sign the contract for the building of the first meeting house9 and was a representative in 16448. In 1645 he was, with Peter Noyes and Walter Haynes, appointed as commissioner "to end small causes" in Sudbury. He was selected again in 1646, but with William Pullman and Edmund Rice as his associates. He also served for several years as chairman of Sudbury's selectmen, and represented his community on the grand jury of the county court at Charlestown and Cambridge8. Over time, his total land holdings increased to between two and three hundred acres10.

In 1660 he removed to Marlborough where he was a representative in 1666 and deacon at the first organization of the church.2

In 1655, William Ward was one of 12 men who petitioned the General Court at Boston for permission to move west from Sudbury, that they "were so straightned for land for their stock . . . "god having given us some considerable quantity of Cattle" " . . .that they could not so comfortably subsist as could be desired."  . . .that "God hath been pleased to increase our Children, which are now divers of them growne to man's Estate; & wee, many of us, growne into years, so as that wee should bee glad to see them setled before ye Lord take us away from hence." The Court granted the request with a grant of land, six miles square, "or otherwise in some convenient forme equaivalent thereunto, at ye discretion of ye Committee, in ye place desired; provided it hinder no former Graunt; and that there bee a Towne settled with Twenty or more families within three years, so an Able Ministry may be there maintained."

There was in fact a conflict with a grant given to a group of "Praying Indians," but this was overcome by setting off 6000 acres for an Indian Plantation, the founders receiving compensation in other unoccupied land.

The initial grants of home-lots were much larger than previous settlements. The lots were between 16 and 50 acres with the net effect of making the homes much further apart. Later, during King Phillips War, this decision would make the settlers easy prey for the Indians. William received a 50-acre lot; sons Obadiah, aged 25, received 21 acres, and Richard, aged 22, received 18 acres.

William left a will dated 6 April 1686, and proved 29 September 1687 (paragraphing added for clarity):
Sir Edmund Andros, Knt: Captaine Generall and Governour in Chief of his magesty's Territory and Dominion of New England. To all to whome this shall come or may come: Greeting Know ye: That on the nyne and twentyeth Day of September In the yeare of our Lord One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Seven. Before me att Boston in the County of Suffolk in the Dominion aforesaid the will of William Ward Senr of Marlborough in the County of Middx within this Dominion aforesaid to this presents Amicus was proved, approved and allowed who having while he lived and att the time of his Death goods rights and Creditts in diverse parts of the said Dominion, the Administration of all and Singular the goods, Rights and Creditts the said Deceased and his will in any manner concerning was committed unto Elizabeth Ward wife of the said Deceased Executrix in the same will named will and truly to Administer, ye same And to make a true and perfect Inventory of all and singular the goods rights and credits of the said deceased and the same to [publish?] Into the secretary's office of the said Dominion by the [sixth?] Day of April next insueing which will be in the year of our Lord One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Eight and also to render a playne and true account thereof upon Oath. In Testimony whereof I have [received?] unto sett the seal of the Office for Probate Wills and Granting Administrations. Dated the first day of October Anno Domini 1687.

The Will of William Ward Jun'r [sic]

I, William Ward Senr of Marlborough in the county of Middlesex in New England, (through God's mercy) enjoying the intirements of my understanding but by reason of my great age and the Infirmities thereof, being sensible of my Approaching Death Doe make and Ordaine my Last will and Testament in manner and forme following (vizt)
After the surrender of my self into the hands of God, my maker and Gracious Redeemer; and the Descent buryall of my body I will that all my Debts be well and truly paid by my Executrix.
And I give unto Elizabeth my Loveing wife all my moveable goods of every sort both within Doors and without-to be unto her use and Improvement for her Comfortable maintenance during her naturall life and what shall remaine of my said moveables over and above what shee shall need to spend, shee shall distribute equally unto all my owne children, vizt those which I have by her and those which I have by my former wife. And if any of my said children now surviving shall dye before the said distribution be made, my will is that the child or children of the said deceased shall have all their father or mother was to have.

Item to my sonne John Ward I give forty acres and one hundred rods of upland for ever to be his use and att his disposall as any other goods or lands he hath which said forty acres and one hundred rods are so much of my third division of upland granted unto me by the Inhabitants of said Marlborough Lyeing about half a mile southeasterly from Belchers Pond and are next adjoyning unto the Fourty acres of Land which I have given to my sonne William Ward and I also give unto my said sonne John Ward four acres of Meadow be the same more or less lyeing in great Cedar Meadow in said Marlborough. Alsoe all my piece of Meadow Lyeing by Stonye Brooke in the said Towne which is commonly called the Gulfe

Item to my sonne Increase Ward I give and confirme for ever to be his use and att his disposall as any goods he hath all the four and twenty acres of Home Lott now in the possession of the said Increase which I purchased of my sonn in law Abraham Williams. Together with all the Rights privileges and Appurtenances of the same in the said Marlborough according to the full tenor of a Deed of sale given me by the said Abraham respecting the same. And I alike give and confirme unto my said sonne Increase all my addition or second division of upland containing Twelve acres and half an acre more or less: as it now lyeth joyning to the four and Twenty acres above said.

Item to William Ward sonne of my sonne Obediah Ward, I give and confirme for ever to be to his and at his disposal as any goods he shall have, when he shall be one and Twenty years of age, nyneteen acres and sixty Rods of upland which are so much of my third division of upland before mentioned. Lyeing in Chanery playne, within the said Marlborough and six acres and halfe an acre and Twenty Seaven Rods Lyeing neare the said upland in Chauncey Meadow Alsoe two acres and three quarters of an acrew of meadow which I had of the said Obediah by [exchange?] Lyeing next adjoining unto the Said Six Acres and halfe and Twenty Seaven Roods Together with all the low-boggy swampy land there granted unto me by the inhabitants of said Marlborough as by their book of Records Doth more fully approve.

Item to Mary the wife of Daniell Stone of Sudbury I Bequeath One shilling and unto Obediah and Lydia the children of said Mary by my sonne Richard Ward Deceased I give five shillings a piece.

To Hannah now wife of Richard Taylor of Sudbury I give One shilling, and unto Hannah Daughter of the said Hannah by my sonne Eleazer Ward Deceased I give five shillings to be paid in money within one yeare after my decease.

Item to my sonne, Samuell Ward, I Give and Confirm forever to be to his use and att his Dispoall as any other Lands he is Owner of five and Twenty acres of home lott be the same more or less consisting partly of upland and partly of meadow lyeing and being in Marlborough aforesaid in One Intire piece, and are the moyety or halfe of the fifty acres, home lott granted unto me the said William Ward Senr by the Inhabitants of said Marlborough and are bounded Northward and East by Highway; Southward partly by the Meadow of W. Ward Junior and partly by Land in the possession of Mr Hunt, Westward by the land of Wm Ward Junr and I give and confirm unto my said sonne Samuel the Dwelling House and Barn upon the said five and twenty Erected in which I now dwell and three acres of Meadow be the same more less wch I took up in lieu of some of my Second Division of meadow and are lyeing on both sides of Stony Brook in said Marlborough & adjoyning to an Hill Scituate on the north side of the said Brook bounded and every way surrounded by common upland. Also an other piece of Meadow Lyeing on both sides of said Stony Brooke; more upstream bounded by the Meadow of Thomas Beman and of John Bouker att the Northerly end thereof and by the Old Bridge or Cartway att the southerly end thereof and by town land yett undivided on both sides thereof. Also I like give unto my said Samuell halfe my right in Old Harbour Meadow and halfe my right in the Ceder Swamp of the said Marlborough. Together with a full proportion of Land according to five and twenty acres of home lott in every division of land which shall hereafter att any time be made by the Inhabitants of said Marlborough of their town lands as yett undivided. Also right of Commonage with said Towne for feed of Cattle, Timber and firewood proportionable unto an Home lott of five and twenty acres. Provided my said sonne Samuel Ward doe fullfill and performe or cause well and truly to be fulfilled and performed all the several articles; which he is to perform to my self, the said William War Senr and to Elizabeth my wife During the naturall life of each of us as by an obligation under his hand and seal more fully appears bearing Date the Twenty Sixth Day of Aprill in the year One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Six.

Butt if my said Sonne Samuell shall fail to performe or cause to be performed all the said articles of Form & [Incident?] unto my self and my said wife liberty and power to recantor upon and reassume all the house lands and rights above given unto him to be and abide unto my self or my said wife for the maintenance of my life and her; and to be att myne or her disposall as if I had never willed the same unto my said sonne Samuell allowing and standing to all such provisions as are on my part or on the part of my said wife to be allowed and fullfilled according to the tenor of the said obligation or bond licensed and sealed by my aid sonn Samuell.

Item unto all myne own children (vizt) all my sonns and daughtesr which I have by y former wife and all that I have surviving by my present wife I give twenty shillings a piece to be paid them in money within eight months after my decease.

And I constitute and appoint Elizabeth my Loving wife sole Executrix of this my will and for Overseers of this my will I choose and desire my sons John Ward, Abraham Williams and my sonne Increase Ward to be helpful unto my wife as Occasion shall serve. And I make utterly null and void all former wills by me att any time made . This is my will Witnessed my hand and seal this Twenty Sixth Day of Aprill in the year of our Lord Christ One Thousand Six Hundred Eighty and Six Anno Regni [Rees] Jacobi [Reundi] Secundo [second year of the reign of James II]

Signed William Ward Senr, by his mark and Witnesses Abraham Williams, Joseph Rice, John Matthews

By His Excellency

The above written Abraham Williams, Joseph Rice and John Matthews appeared before me and made oath on the Holy Evangelist that they saw the above named William Ward sign seal and publish this writing as his last will and testament and that he was of sound mind and memory when he did the same.
Sworn this 29th day of September 1687 before me, Andros.

An Inventory of the Lands housing and Goods of William Ward, Senior of Marlborough deceased as itt was taken by Edward Rice and John Woods Junr August Twenty Second 1687.
"     Item The Homestall of Twenty five acres with the housing upon itt and the meadows and other lands adjoyning to it as itt is in the will given to Samuel Ward. £120
"     Item the Land, now in possession of Increase Ward the whole of Lands and Meadows with all the Honors Rights and privileges thereto belonging as they are willed to him. £30
"     Item The Land and Meadow given to William Ward grandchild to the above said William testator the whole of them as they are willed to him. £13 10s.
"     Item The Land of the Third Division, with the Meadows given to John Ward as they lye and are willed to him. £7.
"     Item in money £14 pounds
"     More in moeny [owe by Bills] [amount not legible - film too dark]
"     Item: Five cows and one sucking calf Sum of them £10:=:=
"     Item for swine valued at £1:5:=
"     Item Five Bushells of Wheate £ =:15:=
"     Item Foure Bushells of Rye £=:10:=
"     Two Bushells of Indian Corn £=:4:=
"     Three bushells of Mault £=:8:=
"     Item for Sacks for Corne Sume of English make some of Indian make all of them old and new valued at £1:10:=
"     Item Arms Guns and Sword And Watch bill of ammunition £2:17:=
"     Item Pewter of all sorts some greater others less valued att £2:15:=
"     Item for Cart five Hoops Boes Chains Plough Irons [_____] [_____] Rings Wedges Cops & Pinns belonging to Carts old siths and other old Iron altogether £5:=:=
"     Item two spitts one paire of cob Irons One paire of Tongs firepan fender grid Iron Clover Chafing dish Brass (vizt) two kittles three brass pans and other vessells of Brass: spinr masher warming pan: £7:14:=
"     Item One coper much worne; £=:15:=
"     Item Iron Potts and Kettles of Iron, Iron Skillitt all £1:5:=
"     Item two feather bedds with boulsters pillows blanketts, Ruggs Curtains and vallens with straw beds [for?] them. £15:=:=
"     Item an other Feather Bed with boulsters, pillows, blanketts Rugge straw bed: £3:10:=
"     Item one floch bed with boulster, blanketts and cover lid to itt valued at £2:10:=
"     Item One cover lid and two blanketts valued at £3:=:=
"     Item Nyne paire of sheetes valued at £7:8:=
"     Item for eight paire of sheetes more valued at £6:=:=
"     Item 8 pillow drawers valued at £1:1:=
"     Item table Lynnen broad cloth napkins Cupboard Coats Towells and Boulster Cases: £3:3:=
"     Item cloathing Woolen Lynnen Hatts Shoes etc. £14:=:=
"     Item new home made coatt valued at £1:=:=
"     Item carpetts for Tables valued at £=:18:=
"     Item cushing and new cushing cloath £1:=:=
"     Item One cupboard valued at £1:=:=
"     Item chest and one trunck valued att £1:2:=
"     Item five joynt stooles and five chairs valued at £=:10:=
"     Item One Round Table valued at £=:6:=
"     Item One Bridle and One Saddle valued at £:=:10:=
"     Item wooden vessells for Diary [dairy?] Pan at Tailors Powdering Tubs Washing vessells cheese fatts and Cheese press valued att £1:14:=
"     Item One Great Table valued at 5s. Pork, Beefe, Butter, Cheese at £1:16 one whip saw at 5s. £2:6:=
"     Item Hay Cutting knife and two bill hooks £00:5:00
The Total sum: £290.13:=

Elizabeth Ward the relict and executrix of William Ward Deceased Exhibited this inventory and made oath that she same is a true and perfect? Inventory of all the goods and chattells of the said deceased as she knows off or is Come to her hands.

Sworne this 29th September 1787 before me, E . Andros.11,12

Family 1

  • John Ward2 b. say 1626, d. 8 Jul 1708
  • Joanna Ward2 b. say 1628, d. 8 Dec 1718
  • Obadiah Ward2 b. say 1632, d. 5 Jan 1718
  • Richard Ward2 b. say 1635, d. 31 Mar 1666
  • Deborah Ward2 b. say 1637, d. 9 Aug 1697

Family 2

Elizabeth (…) b. abt. 1614, d. 9 Dec 1700
  • Hannah Ward+1,2 b. 1639, d. 3 Nov 1717
  • William Ward2,13 b. 22 Jan 1640, d. bef. 1649
  • Samuel Ward2 b. 24 Sep 1641, d. 15 Nov 1729
  • Elizabeth Ward13,2,14 b. 14 Apr 1643, d. 25 Apr 1710
  • Increase Ward2,15 b. 22 Jan 1644/45, d. 25 Aug 1690
  • Hopestill Ward2 b. 24 Feb 1646/47, d. 23 Dec 1718
  • William Ward16 b. 22 Feb 1648/49, d. 25 Nov 1697
  • Eleazer Ward2 b. say 1651, d. Apr 1676
  • Bethia Ward2 b. 1658, d. 8 Dec 1721
This person was last edited on5 Sep 2016


  1. [S672] Gilman Biglow Howe, "Abraham How, of Watertown and Marlborough, Mass.," National Genealogical Society Quarterly 7 (April 1917): 12-14, further cited as Howe, "Abraham How."
  2. [S925] James Savage, A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Four Volumes. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Company, 1860-1862, 4:414. CD-ROM reprint, Compendium of New England Pioneers: A Collection of 14 Classic Genealogical Dictionaries of Early New England Settlers (Columbia, Maryland: Archive CD Books USA, 2006), further cited as Savage's Dictionary.
  3. [S1330] Estimated from probable birth of first child (1626).
  4. [S1917] New England Historic Genealogical Society Middlesex County, MA: Abstracts of Court Records, 1643-1674, Online database by subscription (AmericanAncestors.org), viewed December 2012), subject: 2:11.
  5. [S673] "The Ancestry of Brigham Young," The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 22 (Jan 1931), at 20-21, further cited as "Ancestry of Brigham Young."
  6. [S1872] Clarence Almon Torrey, New England Marriages Prior to 1700, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011), 1594, further cited as Torrey, New England Marriages (2011).
  7. [S1379] Charles Martyn, The William Ward Genealogy: The History of the Descendants of William Ward of Sudbury, Mass., 1638-1925 (New York: Artemas Ward, 1925), 28, further cited as Martyn, William Ward Genealogy.
  8. [S1379] Martyn, William Ward Genealogy, 33.
  9. [S1379] Martyn, William Ward Genealogy, 30.
  10. [S1379] Martyn, William Ward Genealogy, 34.
  11. [S1931] Suffolk Co., Massachusetts, Suffolk Co. Probate Records, 10:121-127, FHL microfilm 584130, further cited as Suffolk Co. Probate Records.
  12. [S1379] Martyn, William Ward Genealogy, 58.
  13. [S1929] Andrew H. Ward, "Sudbury Records," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 17 (April 1863): 170-172, at 170, further cited as Ward, "Sudbury Records."
  14. [S1918] , Vital Records of Sudbury, Massachusetts, to the Year 1850 (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1903), 147, further cited as Vital Records of Sudbury.
  15. [S1929] Ward, "Sudbury Records," 171.
  16. [S1918] Vital Records of Sudbury, 148.