Ward, Joshua (DNB00)

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WARD, JOSHUA (1685–1761), quack-doctor, born in 1685, was descended from the family of Ward of Wolverston Hall in Suffolk. Beyond the doubtful statement that he began life as a drysalter in London in Thames Street, in partnership with his brother William, nothing is known of his earlier years. On 27 Jan. 1716–17 he was returned to parliament for Marlborough, but on 13 May 1717 his name was erased by order of the House of Commons, and that of Gabriel Roberts substituted, on the ground that he had been improperly returned, a conclusion hardly surprising, since he had not received a single vote. Previously to his deprivation, however, he had fled to France, perhaps on account of some share in the rising of 1715. He took refuge at St. Germain, and afterwards among the English colony at Dunkirk. In France he supported himself chiefly by the sale of his famous ‘drop and pill,’ with which he professed to cure every human malady. Towards the close of his residence in France he incurred the displeasure of the authorities, and was only saved from imprisonment in the Bastille by the good offices of John Page, afterwards member of parliament for Chichester, and secretary of the treasury.

Ward's drop was first made known in England by Sir Thomas Robinson [q. v.], ‘long Sir Thomas,’ whose zeal was ridiculed in verse by Sir Charles Hanbury-Williams (Poems, 1822, ii. 1). About the end of 1733 Ward obtained a pardon from George II and returned to England. By extensive advertisement and by the accomplishment of some startling cures he soon became famous, and secured for his pill and drop an enormous sale. He enjoyed the patronage of the king, whose immediate displeasure and more lasting esteem he won by curing his dislocated thumb with a violent wrench. George allowed him an apartment in the almonry office, Whitehall, where he ministered to the poor at his majesty's expense. Chesterfield was one of his patrons, and Gibbon enumerates him among those by whom his youth was tortured or relieved (Autobiography). The dying Henry Fielding also consulted him for his ailments, and paid a high tribute to his kindness and sagacity in his ‘Voyage to Lisbon,’ though he was compelled to acknowledge that in his own case Ward's medicines ‘had seldom any perceptible operation,’ and ‘that Mr. Ward declared it was as vain to attempt sweating him as a deal board.’ Ward's most enthusiastic patron, however, was Lieutenant-general Churchill, who rendered him great service by extolling his wares among the aristocracy (cf. Williams, Poems, i. 236).

Ward purchased three houses in Pimlico, near St. James's Park, and converted them into a hospital for his poor patients, to whom he showed great generosity. For their benefit he took another house in the city, in Threadneedle Street. Large crowds resorted to him daily, and it became the habit of many ladies of fashion to sit before his doors distributing his medicine to all comers. This extraordinary success was not relished by more regular practitioners. Churchill, when asked by Queen Caroline whether it was true that Ward's medicine had made a man mad, replied ‘Yes, madam: Dr. Mead’ (Turner, Reprint of Miscellaneous Works and Memoirs of Chesterfield, ii. 1, 50, 79). From the close of 1734 Ward was constantly attacked in prose and verse. On 28 Nov. 1734 a writer in the ‘Daily Courant’ declared the pill and drop part of a plot to introduce popery into England, basing his suspicions on the long residence of Ward in France, and on the zeal of the Roman catholic Lady Gage in distributing his pill. On the same day the ‘Grub Street Journal’ commenced a violent attack on Ward's remedy, for which he unsuccessfully proceeded against the proprietor in the king's bench and the court of common pleas. Notwithstanding the testimony of James Reynolds (1686–1739) [q. v.], the lord chief baron of exchequer, to the ‘miraculous effects’ of Ward's remedy on his maid-servant, and the more qualified approval of Horace Walpole, it was conclusively shown that beyond some slight knowledge of pharmacy, Ward was destitute of medical learning; that his pill and drop were preparations of antimony very violent in their action, and quite unfit for general use; and that his remedies killed as many as they cured. These discouraging discoveries did not, however, lessen the confidence of the public. In 1748, when an apothecaries act was introduced into parliament to restrain unlicensed persons from compounding medicines, a clause was inserted specially exempting Ward by name from the restrictions imposed.

In later life he enlarged the number of his nostrums, adding among other medicines a particularly harmful eyewash. His pills also were elaborated into three varieties, blue, red, and purple, all containing antimony, and two of them arsenic. He made attempts to manufacture porcelain and saltpetre, and was the first to bring to notice in England the method of preparing sulphuric acid by burning the sulphur with saltpetre. He took out a patent for his invention on 23 June 1749 (No. 644), and carried on the manufacture with great secrecy, first at Twickenham, and afterwards at Richmond. The stench from his works caused intense annoyance to the residents in these districts (Brande, Manual of Chemistry, 1836, i. 20). Ward died at Whitehall, aged 76, on 21 Nov. 1761. He amassed a good fortune, the bulk of which he bequeathed to his great-niece, Rebecca, daughter of Knox Ward, Clarenceux king of arms, and to his sisters, Margaret Gansel and Ann Manly; Knox Ward's sons, Ralph and Thomas, are also mentioned in his will, which, dated 1 March 1760, was printed in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1762, p. 208). In it he desired to be buried in front of the altar of Westminster Abbey, or ‘as near to the altar as might be.’ The secrets of his medicines were bequeathed to John Page, who had succoured him in France. Page published them under the title of ‘Receipts for preparing and compounding the Principal Medicines made use of by the late Mr. Ward’ (London, 1763, 8vo). Page arranged that the profits from the sale of the medicines should be divided between the Asylum for Female Orphans and the Magdalen, and placed the charity under the charge of Sir John Fielding. At first they afforded a considerable revenue, but, deprived of the advertisement of Ward's personality and robbed of the allurement of mystery, they soon fell into disuse.

While brusque in his dealings with his superiors in rank, Ward was a man of kindly nature and was benevolent to the poor. When remonstrated with for turning his back when leaving the royal presence, he replied, ‘His majesty suffers no harm in seeing my back, but were I to break my neck from a regard for ceremony it would be a sad loss for the poor.’ He gave away large sums in relieving distress (cf. Ann. Reg. 1759 i. 132, 1760 i. 111). He was generally known as ‘Spot Ward’ from a claret-coloured mark on one side of his face. He is alluded to by Churchill in his ‘Ghost’ (bk. vi. l. 54), and ridiculed by Pope in his ‘Imitations of Horace’ (bk. i. ep. vi. l. 56, bk. ii. ep. i. l. 181). Several satires on him appeared in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ and elsewhere (cf. Gent. Mag. 1734, pp. 387, 658). A full-length statue by Agostino Carlini [q. v.] stands in the entrance to the hall of the Society of Arts in John Street, Adelphi. He is a conspicuous figure in Hogarth's ‘Consultation of Physicians,’ and is depicted in the ‘Harlot's Progress’ (pl. v); his portrait was also painted by E. Loving and Thomas Bardwell, and engraved respectively by Baron and by Faber (Bromley, p. 395). The fame of Ward's remedies produced a literature considerable in size though ephemeral in character. Among the publications on the subject are: 1. ‘The Drop and Pill of Mr. Ward considered by Daniel Turner in an Epistle to Dr. James Jurin,’ London, 1735, 8vo. 2. ‘An Answer to Turner's Letter to Jurin, wherein his injurious Treatment of Mr. Ward, and his Indecent Reflections upon my Lord Chief-justice Reynolds's Account of a Remarkable Cure … are justly answered by Edmund Packe, M.D.,’ London, 1735, 8vo. 3. ‘Pillulæ Wardeanæ Dissectio et Examinatio: or Ward's Pill Dissected and Examined,’ London, 1736, 8vo. 4. ‘A True and Candid Relation of the Good and Bad Effects of Joshua Ward's Pill and Drop by Jos. Clutton,’ London, 1736, 4to.

[Davy's Suffolk Collections in Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19154 ff. 200–2, Wadd's Nugæ Chirurgicæ, 1824, p. 271; Waylen's Hist. of Marlborough, 1854, pp. 356–7; London Mag. 1735 p. 11, 1748 pp. 225, 235, 460; Gent. Mag. 1734 pp. 389, 616, 657, 669, 670, 1735 pp. 10, 23, 66, 1736 p. 672, 1740 p. 515, 1759 p. 605, 1760 p. 294, 1766 p. 100; Annual Register, 1761, i. 185; Churchill's Poet. Works, 1866, ii. 132; Journals of House of Commons, xviii. 35, 187, 481, 547; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. ii. 371–2, 7th ser. vii. 83, 273; Johnson's Memoirs of Hayley, 1823, i. 72; Byrom's Remains (Chetham Soc.), i. 139; Smith's Nollekens and his Times, ed. Gosse, p. 51; Noble's Hist. of the College of Arms, 1804, pp. 382–3; Pope's Works, ed. Elwin and Courthope, iii. 320–1, 360; Horace Walpole's Letters, ed. Cunningham, iii. 280; Professional Anecdotes, 1825, i. 282–5, ii. 198; Maty's Memoirs of Chesterfield, ii. 1; Reprint of Walpole's manuscript notes to Maty, p. 44, in Miscellanies of Philobiblon Soc. vol. x.; Court and Family of George III, 1821, i. 185.]

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