Mr & Mrs George Ward, founders

The following was reprinted by permission of the author, Mrs. Phyllis Moorhouse,  great-great-granddaughter of George and Margaret Ward.  Excerpted from the History of Wardsville, Volume 1 by Ken Willis, 1993.

George Ward, the founder of Wardsville, was born in Ireland in 1743.  He had a career in the British army and it was this that brought him to Canada.  He entered the British army in the 58th Reg’t. (now known as the Wiltshire Reg’t.) and it was with this regiment that he first came to Canada after serving several years in Ireland.  He came to Quebec with his regiment in 1776, the same year that the Declaration of Independence was signed (July 4).
Letters preserved in the National Archives in Ottawa and in the Provincial Archives give an account of his career and among other things, something about the battles in which he fought in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
The Regiment arrived in Quebec on May 29, 1776.  The Americans were anxious to deliver Canada from the British yoke.  They came up to Quebec and a battle was fought at Three Rivers in which the British were victorious and during which the 62nd Regiment played a major part.  They wintered in Quebec.
The following year he was chosen, with a group of good marksmen, to be an advance party to go down to Fort Ticonderoga at the south end of Lake Champlain.  The British captured the fort.  There was a hill about a mile from the fort which seemed a strategic place from which to launch the attack.  Goats could be seen on the hill.  The commander said “Wherever a goat can go, a man can go.”  So they took the cannon to the top of the hill.
At the end, the Americans fled.  However, the Battle of Saratoga came next and in this important battle, the British were defeated.  Ward, with the other prisoners, was marched to Boston and then to Rutland.  His grandfather’s brother was a general in the enemy’s army and he offered him a majority if he would go over to their side.  He refused.  Ward escaped with the others and went to New York where he joined the Volunteers of Ireland (which later became the 105th Reg’t.)  They fought in the battle for Charlestown and the Battle of Camden, and both were successful.  At the Battle of Camden, Ward received a medal for Bravery.  His father wanted him to leave his medal with him in Ireland but it has not been found.

Ward was a drill sergeant for most of his career and for a time was adjutant with the Volunteers of Ireland.  At the close of the war, he was offered Officers Lands in Nova Scotia but declined the offer.  Instead, he returned to Ireland and then to England, taking with him 24 “young men of good character” at this own expense and joined the 24th Regiment (the South Wales Borderers).

He had duty in Scotland, followed by several years in Ireland and then the Regiment was ordered back to Quebec.  The Regiment was in Quebec in 1791 which was the year that John Graves Simcoe came to be the first Governor of Upper Canada.
The Canada Act creating Upper and Lower Canada came into effect on December 26, 1791.  Colonel (then Lieutenant) Talbot was also in the 24th Regiment and it is believed that at this time Ward became acquainted with Col. Talbot. Talbot was then about 20 years of age and Ward nearly 50.  They became lifelong friends and Col. Talbot became Gov. Simcoe’s assistant private secretary and aide and, of course, came with him to Niagara on the Lake.
From Quebec, Ward with his Regiment, had a tour of duty to Detroit.  He was there until it was handed over to the U.S. Here he was left in charge of the Block House and some gun boats.
In 1796, he was discharged from the army.  He obtained a grant of land in Camden Township in Kent and settled down on the banks of the Thames.  The grant is dated 1797.  His children: William (1794), James (1795), Alex Daniel (1802), Talbot St. John (1804) and Mary Ann (1805).
In one letter, he states that he has two grown sons in Ireland and that they are coming here.  Nothing else has been found about them.
After living in Camden for several years, the government asked him to establish a stopping place for travellers where Wardsville now stands.  He came to the area in about 1810.  He apparently like the location, because it is believed that he had originally purchased the land from the Indians but the government forbade this and he had to give it up.
Little is known of Margaret Show, his wife.  One census shows that Ward’s brother-in-law, by the name of Shaw, had a business in Wardsville.  It is likely that she came from the area.  At least one letter dealing with claims for losses in the war of 1812 is signed by her.  In another letter she tells about sending soldiers carrying dispatches to the British army being hurried out one door while American soldiers were at hand.  One can feel the nerve-wracking experience of being caught in the war for, of course, both armies passed by their door.
George Ward seems to have worked hard as a settler.  In one letter he claims that “there is no better garden between York and Amherstburg” than his and he also had an orchard.
When the War of 1812-14 came, he again became active in the British forces.  He was entrusted with provisions for the army. Also he ran dispatches and had to keep three horses ready at all times for this work.  Both armies passed his door and he suffered many losses from the enemy.  There are many letters about this which were sent to the government.
At one time the enemy came to his house, drove his wife and children into the forest and, as he continues, “the enemy caught me, put a rope around my neck and hanged me three times till life was almost extinct.”
Two of his sons, William and James, served in the Militia.  William was captured and placed in irons for seven months at Detroit but he escaped, made his way to join his company which was that of Capt. John McGregor of the Kent Militia.  William also led a company in the Battle of the Longwoods.
James was in the First Middlesex Militia under Capt. Daniel Springer.  He was on duty at Turkey Point in 1812 and from there went with a party of Fort Erie, where he died while on service.
George Ward was accused of treason in connection with the Battle of the Longwoods in 1814.  This has never been proved.  The records of the trial were never made available and the case was dropped, presumably for lack of proof.  When one reads his life story it seems clear that he was always loyal to his country.
Fred Coyne Hamil, writing in the London Free Press in 1950 quotes John Matthews of Logo Township who wrote on Ward’s behalf in 1824. “I believe him to be a truly good and faithful subject and soldier; and that he had been vilified by a set of dishonest and depraved characters, who combined together, systematically to hunt down every honest and independent man that dares oppose them.”
John Townend, a member of the Ward family, has recently made a study of this matter and believes George Ward to be innocent.  He is publishing a book which will be available soon.
The matter caused a great deal of distress to George Ward but he never gave up trying to clear his name.  Among his letters is even one from an American officer who confirms George Ward’s loyalty to England.
He lived until 1837, dying at 93 years of age.  The Wards were staunch Anglicans.  There is a memorial Communion table in the Glencoe Anglican Church in memory of George Ward and his wife Margaret, Alexander Daniel and his wife Mary Ann and Martha Ward and her husband Malcom G. Munroe.
Some married into other denominations and, for the Talbot St. John family, it is said that Mrs. Talbot St. John went into the Anglican church one Sunday and, finding her pew taken, walked across to the Methodist church and there they stayed.  At the present generation, some have become Anglican, and one is an Anglican minister.
On a map showing the land owned by the Wards, it is evident that the village is build at least half on Ward land.
George Ward was interested in his church and a story that has been passed down in the family is that when the village was laid out, he set aside one street for the various churches.  The history of the United Church (then Methodist) says that Talbot St. John gave the land.  However, some of the land was owned jointly by the father and sons.
The first Ward family reunion was in 1984 which coincided with the bicentennial year of Ontario and the Village of Wardsville erected a plaque in honour of George Ward.  It stands on the land which is believed to be the location of his house.
Although no Wards presently live in Wardsille, there are a substantial number in this area: Strathroy, St. Thomas, Blenheim, Dorchester, and Kingsville.
Mrs. Phyllis Moorhouse, great-great-granddaughter of George and Margaret Ward.  Written in the late 1980s

35 thoughts on “Mr & Mrs George Ward, founders

  1. My Aunt was Phyllis Moorhouse. Two of my cousins attending the recent Wardsville Bicentennial included Louise Moorhouse and Joan Kelly. This was a wonderfully written and very informative piece. I live in Dallas, TX, and have not made it to a Wardsville function yet, but hope to in the future. My father, Arthur Sherlock Foreman, attended reunions in years past.
    Laurie Adams Peake

    • Stay tuned, Laurie, the Commemoration of the War of 1812 – 1814 is coming up! There are more commemorations planned. – Mary Simpson

      • Mary, I have been doing genealogy on the Ward family for years, and never thought our line had anything to do with George Ward. Now I’m not so sure. I read the piece on George Ward by Phylis Moorhouse, and was very interested when she said” George Ward had two grown sons in Ireland, and that they are coming here.” My Ward line, “John Ward” got a grant, that is no part of the Thames Valley Golf Course sometime in the 30’s 40’s or 50’s. I don’t have the info. It seems two Ward brothers came over from Ireland somewhere around 1836. The land was Lot 24, Concession 1 and Concession C. Could you put me in touch with others doing genealogy on the Ward name. Too close to Wardsville, to not start looking at a Wardsville connection. Randy Ward Lindsay Ontario. I grew up on the original grant.

  2. I know the geographic location is quite close to Petrolia. Any relation to the Wards’ in that region. I know my Great Grandfather Howard Hyland Ward was said to have family in that region.

  3. Not long after the Ward family arrived…the Henderson’s arrived from Scotland.

    In fact, I am pleased to see that the old Homestead still stands proudly.

    Many years have passed since leaving the Wardsville area when I was 18. Please
    let me know if/when a reunion is scheduled

    Paul Henderson
    805 Fox Lake Lane
    Edmond OK

  4. I am a descendant of the wards grandaughter to Maggie Whilamenia Ward ( Archer) and have a cup of her father ( Sheldon G Ward) who was the local barber in Wardsville., So please I would love to learn more , I am currently doing a family tree and the above information is so helpful and very interesting.
    Sandra Touma

  5. I am also a descendant, George was my great x 5 grandfather. I am trying to do the family tree on and can’t seem to get further back than George and Margaret Shaw. If anyone has any information on parents of either George or Margaret, it would be great to know. I noticed the piece said George’s great uncle was a general on the other side – so someone must know who his parents and grandparents were. Very, very interesting stuff!

  6. Hi Terri Ann
    Many of us have tried to trace George back to Ireland and have been unsuccessful. Also for Margaret’s ancestors. Where do you fit into the tree? I am a great x3 granddaughter of George and Margaret (through Talbot St. John) and am trying to keep track of their descendents. There are not many descendents who still carry the Ward surname, and I don’t seem to have you in the tree on [Evans/Ward Family Tree].
    Barb Aubrey

  7. The last Ward I have in my pedigree is John O’Brien Ward born 30 Oct 1823 in Kingston, Ontario, died 29 May 1901 in Chatham. Wife: Eunice Amelia Snow born NY on 31 dec 1831, died 02 jan 1914 in Wardsville.

    They had 14 chldren: James Alexandra (my direct line), John Sheldon, Joseph Eugene, Margaret, Eunice, or Peggy, Albert, Robert Emmett, Jane Ann (Jennie), Ada, Thadeus, George, Sarah O’Bryan?, Martha (Mattie), Bridget or Bridy, Susan – ??

    I would soooo appreciate any information that will help me expand my line.

    Thank you so much.

    Mary Ann Ward
    formerly of WV
    Bigfork, Montana

    • I am another descendent of George Ward (through John O’Brien Ward and his daughter Mattie Ward). Mattie, who was the youngest of 14, and one or more of her sisters moved to Detroit, so there may be other descendants in Michigan (like me).

      • John OB Ward is my great great grandfather. His son, James Alexandra, is my great grandfather. Will you share with me your list of siblings of James? Am trying to get the pedigree beyond John OB. Thank you so much.
        Mary Ann Ward Stinespring,\

  8. I’m another descendent of George Ward through his son Talbot. Talbot’s son William is next in my family tree with his Daughter Bessie marrying my Great-Grandfather Joseph Hagerty. After their marriage, they moved to Alberta. I also have some information on Joseph marrying Cassie Ward after Bessie’s death. However, I’m not able to find where Cassie Ward fits in the family. Some say she was Bessie’s sister, others say she was a cousin. Does anyone know?

  9. James, John, Joseph, Margaret, Albert, Robert, Jane, Ada, Thadeus, George, Sarah, Martha (Mattie), Bridget or Bridy, Susan – are these the names of the children that you have? I am really trying to finalize names/birthdates for this family – feel like it isn’t quite right yet – any light you can shed on this would be highly appreciated. John O B’s daugters were listed in his obituary as:
    Mrs. Seymon and Mrs.Jane/JennieHerd of Detroit, MI
    Mrs. Ada Mills of Wardsville, Canada, Mrs.Mattie Coats of Bothwell, Canada – who was Seymon? My email is and would appreciate any good info on this family so I can get the info right – thanks.

  10. I am too a decendant of The Wards. However we may be a different family. My Great x 4 Grandfather Sheldon Ward came from Mayo Ireland. He spent his whole life in the Toronto / Scarborough area. His profession was a Brick Layer. But that is as far back as we have been able to go. He was born in 1802 I believe and died in 1845 in Toronto. His older Brother James lived with him as well. He married and had children. The family is extremly large with Names such as Sheldon, William, George. I do not know if our paths cross and I do not know if Sheldon & his brother could be one of the grown sons that were to come from Ireland. His son George had a piece of property off of Yonge St. called Briar Hill Farm. Several of the Family Decendants moved to the States and out west. If any of this is familiar with anyone from Wardsville please email me. I have a lot of information on this Ward Family if any of you see a connection or require more names and dates.

    • Hi Lori,

      I am Darrell Ward and have been researching my family for a couple of years. I, too, am related to Sheldon and James. My Grandfather was William and came west from Collingwood, Ontario. I have information that Sheldon may have come from “Queens County” in Ireland. It would be interesting to compare notes with you.

      • It’s great hearing from you. Is this the family that started Wardsville ON. I’m trying to see if we are connected to that town at all. Most of my notes are at home and I’m trying to get ready for vacation. I will prpobably have to wait til I return in order to go thru them and see where we may connect.

        Lori Scott

        Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2013 15:52:15 +0000 To:

      • I have a William Ward in my family as well. As for coming from Collingwood I am not certain. I’ve attached pages from The Necropolis Cemetary in Scarborough where they are buried. As I mentioned most of my appers are at home so I am going a bit by memory. This William Albert Ward is brother to Geroge Ward. Their Father is the the Sheldon Ward listed on the page as well. On page 2 shows a picture of the Tomb Stone that Sheldon, his wife Anne (whos’ listed as the wife of Robert James, because she remarried) are all buried in it. The following are all part of our Family. They are all buried in the Necropolis. Do any names ring a bell.

        Harriet Anne Ward

        Emma Loise Ward / TR Bently

        Hanna Hill/George Bond

        William Albert Ward

        Emily Mary Bently

        Willeminia Ward May

        Lori Scott

        Date: Mon, 17 Jun 2013 15:52:15 +0000 To:

      • Darrell, you mention that your Grandfather was William Ward. Was he born Jan 29, 1831 in Albany ON. His mother being Ester Carefoot from Ireland and his Father being James Ward from Ireland. I have a family tree that shwos William’s siblings to be Maria, Sheldon, George, Albert James and Hazzard. Is this your family tree. My cousin who started me on this feels that the elder James Ward may be the brother of my Great Grandfather Sheldon Ward. Sheldon married a Anne Heron and their children’s names were George, Harriet, William Albert, Elizabeth, Mary Hannah and Emily Louise. Do any of these names come thru in your family. If My Sheldon and your james were brothers, they also had another brother named Alexander (who was blind) lived with his sone George Ward after his death. Does any of this ring a bell.

      • Hi Darrell,
        William is my 2nd great grandfather…His daughter is my great grandmother. Would love to hear from you to add to our tree…

    • Sheldon Ward is also my 4th great grandfather. All of your info mentioned in this post matches mine My great grand father Thomas Donnelly married Violet Ward daughter of William Ward who fathers was George Ward. whos father was Sheldon. I was also thinking Sheldon was one of the grown son’s… Email me please Lori…

      • I’m so glad to hear from you. Herbert Alfred Ward (my great grandfather) was George’s son. I don’t see William Ward as a brother. Are your Ward’s part of Wardsville, because I’m not sure if our’s are. Did your George marry a Leonora Bentley from Frontenac Kingston. Rather than emailing thru this site, could you reach me at my home email directly. Then we can compare notes better.

      • I’m sorry I looked at this a bit better, and yes your William Ward and my Herbert Ward were brothers and both were sons of George & Lenora. I would really like to get an email from you so that we can confirm this. I know George is the son of Sheldon and Ann but I’m desperately trying to get the proof that he is. I have a birth record for William showing his parents were George & Leonora. But I would like to find the same for George to his mother Ann. I also have information showing were George & Leonora are buried, where Sheldon & Ann are buried, Who & where Ann’s parents are.

  11. My name is Jeff Ward, son to Henry Gary Ward son of Frank Ireland Ward. I have been doing some research on my family trees and think we are part of the George Ward heritage. Is there someone who can help confirm or discount this?

    Best Regards,

    Jeffrey Ward

  12. I am a decendant of a Geroge Ward. His Father was Sheldon Ward who died in 1845 in Toronto. We are not sure whether the Wardsville Ward’s and our Ward’s are connected. I would love to find out. Sheldon came from Mayo Ireland and we believe he had a brother living with him. Sheldon was a Builder in Toronto and a partner with a Snyder. He died in a construction accident. His wife remarried. George was his oldest son (I think there was 10/11 children). The farm these kids were raised on was called Briar Hill Fram around Yonge & 401.
    What I understand about Wardsville is that This George’s family had some brothers left in Ireland, to come at a leter date. I don’t know if Sheldon & his brother were those 2 or not.
    Unfortunatley I don’t have the dates for all this at my disposal right now. I have a huge tree of this family thaks to my cousin’s hard work. She’s heard of Wardsville but doesn’t know if we’re connected either. We can trace from Sheldon all the way down to today, however we only have the George Ward line. Very little of his brother’s and sisters. Can you trace your way back to this Sheldon, or his wife Anne. Ann’e family taces back thru the Heron’s and the Hills, that’s as far back as I can go.
    I know where Sheldon & Anne are buried, where Anne’s parents and brother are buried, but I can’t find Thomas Hill.
    Does any of this happen to sound familiar. I’m going to send your names to my cousing brcause she might have seen them in the branches.

  13. I have been working on my family tree for a number of years. My 3rd great grandfather was James Ward born in Ireland in 1803 and married to Esther Carefoot born in Ireland in 1808. Her father was pioneer William Carefoot. The Carefoot family migrated from Wicklow County in 1823. The family eventually purchased Lot # 11 Concession 10 in the Gore of Toronto region of Upper Canada. Esther married James Ward on January 28th, 1829. James and Esther ran a small store at Coleraine (Lot 13 Con 9). Esther died in 1841 leaving James with 5 young children. James father George Ward owned several properties in the surrounding communities. He died in 1847 and left James with a 100 acres (Lot 20 Con 9). James traded this property with William Proudfoot for 500 acres in Euphrasia Township and moved his family there. I am having difficulty putting the pieces together for James’ father George Ward. James had a brother George and his mother’s name was Ann. I believe his father was involved in the early settlement of the Gore of Toronto region (Lot # 7 Con 7) in 1820. Is there a connection with the Wardsville Wards? I have unable to identify when James’ family arrived in Upper Canada.

  14. I see that several people on this site seem to refer to decendants from the Wardsville area. The names are very similar “Sheldon, George, Albert” etc, to my family. However my family of Wards was the Greater Toronto area. We have yet to connect our family to the Wardsville Family. If you to are having trouble linking yourself to the Wardsville family tree, then maybe you are part of ours.

  15. My mothers mother was Viola Ward, I was at the reunion in 1984. She was born sometime around 1900. I have the genealogy somewhere. I don’t remember the how the connections to George Ward works but I know she is descended from him.

  16. I have found a great source of information including original documents. I searched Esther Carefoot and found her daughters Maria Boyd’s original death registration. Says she was married to James Ward. Not sure if this will give you any leads.

  17. We are looking forward to March 5, 2017. It’s been quite a journey, Our family is thrilled to bring this government honor to George Ward and his son’s William and James. The plaques are very special

  18. Is there a pedigree online for the founders of Wardsville – George and Margaret? I want to see if I link in there somewhere…

  19. I have traced my Great, Great Grandfather Alfred, W Ward born in 1833 back to Brant County Ontario who had 12 children in that area and moved to Williamsport Muskoka in the 1870’s and had many more grand children to the point that half of Huntsville is Related to him.Just wonder if he would have been part of this Ward Family I have a picture of him.

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