WARD, Sir Patience (1629-96), of Lawrence Pountney Hill, London.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1660-1690, ed. B.D. Henning, 1983
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1679
Oct. 1679

Family and Education

b. 7 Dec. 1629, 8th s. of Thomas Ward of Tanshelf, Pontefract, Yorks. by w. Elizabeth. educ. Camb. 1643. m. 8 June 1654, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of William Hobson, Haberdasher, of Hackney, Mdx., s.p. Kntd. 29 Oct. 1675.1

Offices Held

Member, Merchant Taylors’ Co. 1655, master 1671-2; alderman of London 1670-83, Oct. 1688-d., sheriff 1670-1, ld. mayor 1680-1; dep. lt. ?1670 81, 1689-d.; member, Hon. Artillery Co. 1671; commr. for assessment, London 1673-80, Yorks. (W. Riding) 1679-80, London and W. Riding 1689-90; col. blue regt. of militia ft. London 1689-90, 1691-d.2

Commr. for preventing export of wool 1689-92, customs 1689-Mar. 1696, Apr. 1696-d.

FRS 1681.


Ward’s family had held the manor of Tanshelf in the parish of Pontefract since 1507. They were Puritans, took the side of Parliament in the Civil War, and were temporarily driven out of their home by the Cavaliers when Pontefract Castle was taken. His brother Leonard was removed as alderman of Pontefract by the commissioners for corporations in 1662, and founded the first congregational church in the town. Ward owed his singular Christian name to his father who wanted a daughter, and had sworn that if he had yet another son ‘he would call him Patience’. His parents destined him for the ministry, and sent him to Cambridge in 1643, where he expected ‘to have found a heavenly state where religion was to be taught’, but finding himself being instructed instead in ‘the methods and course of the town’, he left for London, where he was apprenticed in 1646 to Lancelot Tolson, a merchant trading to France. He later set up in business on his own in the parish of St. Lawrence Pountney, where he had bought the manor of the Rose for £5,000, and became ‘a very considerable merchant’. He was briefly imprisoned in the Fleet in 1664 for a ‘seditious’ petition about the customs. As an alderman of London, he was an active member of the common council, and a member of the committees administering the city lands, the Ulster plantation, and the London markets. Ward was an occasional conformist, whose sympathies and interest lay with the nonconformists whom he always refused to prosecute in London, and with the French Huguenots, among whom he had his trading contacts. From 1670 he was the spokesman of the influential group of London merchants trading to France who criticized the failure of the Government to achieve a favourable balance of trade. In the Scheme of Trade (1674) they argued for a treaty to safeguard them against Colbert’s increased tariffs. Ward wrote to (Sir) Joseph Williamson on 24 July 1674:

twelve or fourteen years ago six or eight thousand pieces a year came from Kendal to this town and now not 300; of kerseys from the west of Yorkshire 10,000, now not 500, to be shipped for France; from Lancashire several thousand pieces of bays and now scarce one.

In a subsequent letter he added: ‘When I reflect on my fruitless solicitations in the French treaty of commerce, my heart fails’. Despite Danby’s hostility to France, Ward was very active in fomenting opposition to the Court in the City.3

Ward was returned for his native town to the three Exclusion Parliaments and classed as ‘honest’ by Shaftesbury. An active Member in 1679, he was appointed to sixteen committees, including the committee of elections and privileges, and those to inquire into recent fires in London and to bring in a bill for the removal of Papists from the area. On 9 May he was sent to the Lords to ask for their concurrence in the resolution that the Duke of York’s position as heir-presumptive had given the greatest encouragement to Popish conspiracy. He was named to the committees to inquire into abuses in the Post Office and the shipping of artillery, and that to consider reform of the bankruptcy laws, and he voted for exclusion. His election as lord mayor for the year 1680-1, in succession to Sir Robert Clayton, was a great embarrassment for the Court. In November 1680 he summoned a meeting of a common council which agreed to petition for the passing of the exclusion bill, though the recorder, Sir George Jeffreys, warned them that their action bordered on treason and might endanger their charter, and he was snubbed by the King when he presented the petition. No doubt the duties of his office prevented him from more than moderate activity in the second Exclusion Parliament, in which he was named to four committees. After informing the House that Jeffreys’s advice had deterred some of the common council from subscribing to the petition, he was among those appointed to draw up an address for his removal; but he defended Judge Dolben from a charge of abhorring. He was among those instructed to draw up a bill for the promotion of woollen manufactures. But he was taken ill shortly before the meeting of the Oxford Parliament, which he probably did not attend.4

Ward refused a direct request from the King in May 1681 not to call a meeting of the common council which was expected to petition for the calling and sitting of a Parliament, and he was deaf to the entreaties of Sir Leoline Jenkins, who wrote that Ward

kept to his conclusion, nor would he undertake to keep the common council from meddling with the affairs of the City, but said, if they did enter into public affairs, they must be heard out. They cannot be hindered from petitioning, considering the fears or rather the terrors and amazements that all good men are under for the King’s life and for their religion, dearer to them than their lives.

The Court retaliated by leaving Ward out of the new commission of lieutenancy for London, and reproving him as head of the delegation to present the London petition. His mayoralty was famed for the inscription placed on the Monument attributing the Great Fire to ‘the treachery and malice of the Papists ... in order to the carrying on their horrid plot for extirpating the Protestant religion and old English liberty and introducing Popery and slavery’. Towards the end of his year of office, the corporation resolved to undertake a free insurance scheme against fire for the benefit of the citizens, and in 1681-2 Ward was the leading member of the committee to implement it. On retiring, he received a vote of thanks for ‘his wise and prudent government’ of the City in critical times, and ‘for his frequent calling of common council’. On 18 Jan. 1682 he was appointed a member of the committee to prepare the defence of the London charter against the quo warranto issued against it. In May 1683 he was tried for perjury before Jeffreys for his testimony at the trial of the action for scandalum magnatum brought by the Duke of York against Thomas Pilkington when witnesses gave evidence that he had first sworn that Pilkington could not have said that the Duke of York had ‘burnt the City and is come to cut our throats’ because he was not in the room when the Duke was talked of, and later testified that he himself had laid his hand on Pilkington’s mouth when the Great Fire was discussed. Being found guilty, and hearing that he would be sentenced to the pillory, he took refuge at the house of Bateman, a surgeon implicated in the Rye House Plot, and later absconded to Holland, where, however, he avoided the company of other fugitive plotters. A Tory pamphlet entitled Hue and Cry after Sir Patience Ward described him as having ‘a long meagre’ face, with the expression of ‘one squeezing over a close stool’. He contributed 500 to Monmouth’s invasion in 1685, but was pardoned two years later, and might have been restored to the London bench. But he refused to collaborate with James II’s religious policy, and remained in exile. His correspondence with Thomas Papillon shows that he was fully aware of the preparations for the invasion of William of Orange5

After the Revolution Ward returned to London and was elected to the Convention for the City, though the Tories hoped to expel him for failure to receive the sacrament. A moderately active Member, he made three recorded speeches, twice acted as teller, and was appointed to thirty committees. On 29 Jan. 1689 he reminded the House that ‘the prospect of a Popish successor was that which laid all the plots against the life of the late King Charles and the Protestant religion’. He was among those appointed to draw up the address for stopping ships leaving for France and to consider balancing the trade between the two countries. He was again active on the corporation of London, serving on three committees to raise loans in the City for the new regime, under which he became a commissioner of customs, as well as that to obtain a reversal of the quo warranto judgment. He and Clayton were tellers for the unsuccessful motion of 25 Feb. for a special committee of the Commons to consider the violation of the liberties and franchises of the City. His committees included those to consider the new oaths of allegiance and supremacy, the removal of the disaffected from the metropolitan area, and the address promising assistance for a war against France. He formally avouched the unsigned petition from the City on 25 June to enable nonconformists to take the sacramental test for office. He was appointed to the committees to inquire into the delay in relieving Londonderry and to bring in a bill for the benefit of London orphans. On 23 July he acted as teller for dividing on an amendment to the disabling clause in the bill to restore corporations, which in general he supported, and two days later he was among those ordered to bring in a clause to authorize a temporary book of rates for customs duties. After the recess he was appointed to the committees of inquiry into the expenditure and miscarriage of the war. He produced evidence that George Churchill had received money for convoying merchantmen, adding that in another case ‘because he could not have the money, he pressed the men, and the ship for want of men was cast away’. He was the first Member appointed to a committee for a naturalization bill on 9 Dec., which he carried to the Lords three days later. In the closing weeks of the Convention he was named to committees for reversing judgments of scandalum magnatum obtained by the Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset) and imposing a general oath of allegiance.6

Ward may have had hopes of regaining his seat at Pontefract, since William assured Lord Halifax (Sir George Savile) that Ward and Clayton had repented of their hostility. But he was defeated for London at the general election, and never stood again. He continued to subscribe to government loans and to furnish military intelligence obtained through the Huguenots. Illness compelled him to relinquish his seat on the customs board in March 1696, though he recovered sufficiently to resume office for three months. He died on 10 July and was buried at St. Mary Abchurch. In his will he stated that his estate had been ‘greatly impaired by losses and charges to the value of near £40,000’, and left his property in St. Lawrence Pountney to his nephew John, who represented London as a Whig under Anne and George I.7

Ref Volumes: 1660-1690

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


This biography is based on Yorks. Arch. Jnl. xxxiv. 245-73.

  • 1. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London, 170; PCC 38 Laud; Lysons, Environs, ii. 492, 493.
  • 2. Guildhall Lib. Noble Coll.; Ancient Vellum Bk. ed. Raikes, 99; HMC Lords, iii. 47; Luttrell, i. 83.
  • 3. Add. 4224, ff. 33-34; PC2/57/151-2; IHR Bull. xxix. 215-19; CSP Dom. 1673-5, p. 319; 1675-6, p. 276; Gent. Mag. xxxix. 517.
  • 4. K. H. D. Haley, Shaftesbury, 600; CSP Dom. 1680-1, pp. 267-9; Grey, vii. 463; CJ, ix. 653; HMC 12th Rep. IX, 103.
  • 5. Haley, 641-2; CSP Dom. 1683-4, pp. 90, 227; 1686-7, p. 403; HMC Downshire, i. 71, 77; HMC Finch, iii. 408, 410; Ford Grey, Secret Hist. 118; Ellis Corresp. i. 191; A. F. W. Papillon, Papillon Mems. 343.
  • 6. R. Morrice, Entering Bk. 2, p. 505; Grey; ix. 27, 363, 413.
  • 7. Foxcroft, Halifax, ii. 235; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 1652, 2005; x. 16; D. R. Lacey, Dissent and Parl. Pols. 224; H. B. Wilson, St. Lawrence Pountney, 243-4.