Ward, Henry George (DNB00)

From Wikisource
 
Jump to: navigation, search

WARD, Sir HENRY GEORGE (1797–1860), colonial governor, the eldest son of Robert Plumer Ward [q. v.] of Gilston Park, Hertfordshire, by his wife Catherine Julia, daughter of C. J. Maling of West Herrington, Durham, was born in London on 27 Feb. 1797. Educated at Harrow, and sent abroad to learn languages, he became in 1816 attaché to the British legation at Stockholm, under Sir Edward Thornton [q. v.]; was transferred to The Hague in 1818, and to Madrid in 1819. He was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Mexico in October 1823, returned to England in 1824; again went out to Mexico in 1825, but returned and retired from the diplomatic service in 1827.

In December 1832 Ward entered the House of Commons, sitting as member for St. Albans till 1837, and for Sheffield till 1849. His general reputation was that of an advanced liberal. His career in parliament was chiefly marked by his hostility to the Irish church, respecting which he annually moved a resolution. In political polemics he took an active part, and founded and edited the ‘Weekly Chronicle’ for the purpose of supporting his views with the public. He was also much occupied with railway enterprise in the days of the early speculation. In 1846 he became secretary to the admiralty.

In May 1849 Ward was appointed lord high commissioner of the Ionian Islands, then under the protection of the British crown. He arrived at Corfu on 2 June 1849, and found himself at once in a difficult position. He had to meet an assembly which had just obtained great concessions from his predecessor, and expected even greater complaisance from a new administrator of well-known liberal principles. He was quickly aware that the concessions made were unwise. He found the assembly unworkable and prorogued it. On 1 Aug. 1849 he proclaimed an amnesty to those who had taken part in the rebellion in Cephalonia against Lord Seaton's rule [see Colborne, Sir John, first Baron Seaton]. By the end of August he was answered by a fresh outbreak. Proceeding to Cephalonia, he took vigorous action in person and at once. By October a somewhat serious rebellion had been suppressed. His action was unsuccessfully attacked in the House of Commons. The rest of his time was comparatively free from incident, though he did not hesitate to use his prerogative powers, banishing on occasion editors of papers and even members of assembly. His general administration of the islands was considered able and successful. He left on 13 April 1855.

Ward was now promoted to the government of Ceylon, where he arrived in May 1855. His administration coincided with a period of growth and development, to which his sound judgment materially contributed. His first speech (1855) dealt with the questions of railway communication, so that he may be considered as the father of that enterprise in Ceylon; in succeeding years he developed general schemes for communications, telegraphs, and coolie immigration. He also consolidated the public service. On the outbreak of the Indian mutiny he had no hesitation in despatching all the European troops in the colony to Bengal. In June 1860 Ward was appointed to be governor of Madras, at a time when many anxious questions were awaiting settlement. He landed in India in July, was almost immediately struck down by cholera, and died at Madras on 2 Aug. 1860. He was buried in the church at Fort St. George, Madras. He was made a G.C.M.G. in 1849. A statue has been erected to him at Kandy, Ceylon. Ward was a keen sportsman all his life, and was an expert fencer and pistol shot. A volume of his ‘Speeches and Minutes’ in Ceylon appeared at Colombo in 1864.

Ward married, in 1824, Emily Elizabeth daughter of Sir John Swinburne, baronet, of Capheaton. By her he had issue. He was the author of ‘Mexico in 1825–7,’ which is still a standard work as far as relates to the mining reports which it contains.

[Annual Register, 1860, p. 497; Kirkwall's Four Years in the Ionian Islands, vol. i. ch. vii.; Speeches and Minutes of Sir H. G. Ward (in Ceylon), Colombo, 1864; private information.]

C. A. H.