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Nathaniel Ward

Born: c. 1578
Birthplace: Haverhill, England
Died: Oct-1652
Location of death: Shenfield, England
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion, Author

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Wrote Massachusetts' Body of Liberties

The American clergyman and author of Massachusetts' Body of Liberties, Nathaniel Ward was born between the years 1578 and 1580. Cotton Mather, in the Magnalia, gives his birthplace as Haverhill, England, which is probably correct; and the date of his birth as "about 1570", which is evidently wrong. His father was John Ward, a famous Puritan minister, who, according to a mural tablet that was placed by his sons in the chancel of the church at Haverhill, England, preached the gospel in Haverhill and Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, for twenty-five years. Nathaniel Ward had two brothers, who like himself, were authors and clergymen, and who also suffered for non-conformity. The eldest, Samuel, town-preacher of Ipswich England, was author of The Life of Faith, The Wonders of the Loadstone, and several other works, while the youngest, John, who was rector of St. Clement's, Ipswich, and a member of the Westminster assembly of divines, preached two sermons before the house of commons, which were printed. The Sermons and Treatises of Samuel Ward, B. D., were edited by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Reverend John C. Ryle, D. D. (Edinburgh, 1862). It was said of the brothers -- Samuel, Nathaniel, and John -- that they together "would not make up the abilities of their father. Nor were they themselves offended by this hyperbole, to have the branches lessened to greaten their root." Nathaniel Ward was graduated at Cambridge in 1603, educated for the law, and admitted an outer barrister. After practicing in England, he accompanied some merchants to the continent, where he travelled extensively. At Heidelberg he met the celebrated writer David Pareus, who induced him to quit the law and enter the ministry. As early as 1618 he was a clergyman at Elbing, in Prussia, probably acting as chaplain at the factory there of the Eastland merchants. Afterward he returned to his native country. At first he is said to have been a lecturer in London, but as early as 1628 he was presented by Sir Nathaniel Rich, a relative of the Earl of Warwick, to the rectory of Stondon Massey, in Essex. Ward was one of the chief Puritan ministers in that county, and in 1631 was brought before William Laud, who was then bishop of London, for non-conformity, but escaped excommunication. Laud tried to induce him to conform, and had frequent conferences with him without avail. Two years later, in 1633, he was deprived of his position. Early in the next year, 1634, he sailed for New England. His first and only settlement in America country was at Ipswich, where Reverend Thomas Parker was already the minister of the church, and Ward settled as his colleague. Two years later, owing to feeble health, he resigned his pastorate. He still continued to reside at Ipswich, and while living there compiled for the colony of Massachusetts the Body of Liberties, which was adopted by the general court in December 1641. This was "the first code of laws established in New England." It "exhibits throughout", says Dr. Francis C. Gray, "the principles and securities of English liberty, and, although it retains some strong traces of the times, is in the main far in advance of them, and in several respects in advance of the common law of England at this day. It shows that our ancestors, instead of deducing all their laws from the books of Moses, established at the outset a code of fundamental principles, which, taken as a whole, for wisdom, equity, adaptation to the wants of the community, and a liberality of sentiment superior to the age in which it was written, may fearlessly challenge a comparison with any similar production from Magna Charta itself to the latest, bill of rights that has been put forth in Europe or America." As early as 1645 Ward began to write The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. This was completed in the autumn of 1646, and sent to England for publication, where it was issued in January, 1646-7. It was published under the pen name of Theodore de la Guard, which is merely a slight disguise of his own name, Theodore being the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Nathaniel, and de la Guard the French of the English Ward. He soon afterward sailed for his native country, probably in company with Edward Winslow, who left near the middle of December. He had a "hard winter voyage", and probably arrived before the opening of spring. A second edition of the Simple Cobbler was issued soon after Ward's arrival, and a third and a fourth followed the same year. All the editions bear the date of 1647, each one being corrected by the author, who made material additions to the several issues. No later editions have been printed in England, but two have appeared in America, both at Boston, one in 1718 and the other, which was edited by David Pulsifer, in 1843. Professor Moses Colt Tyler, in his History of American Literature, says of this book: "It is a tremendous partisan pamphlet, intensely vital even yet, full of fire, wit, whim, eloquence, sarcasm, invective, patriotism, bigotry." About a year after his arrival in England, Ward became the minister of the church at Shenfield, in Essex, four or five miles distant from Stondon Massey, where he was formerly settled. He held this position until his death in the autumn of 1652. Besides the works that have been mentioned, his publications were a Sermon preached before the House of Commons (1647); A Religious Retreat sounded to a Religious Army (anonymous, 1647); To the High and Honorable Parliament, Humble Petitions, Serious Suggestions, and Dutifull Expostulations (anonymous, 1648) ; and Discolliminium, or A Most Obedient Reply to a Late Book called' Bounds and Bonds' By B (1650). The following works have been attributed to Ward. Probably the first and last were written by him: A Word to Mr. Peters, and Two Words for the Parliament and Kingdom (1648); The Pulpit Incendiary (1648); and Mercurius Anti-Mechanicus, or The Simple Cobler's Boy, with his Lap-full of Caveats. By Theodore de la Guarden (1648.)

Father: John Ward (Puritan minister)
Brother: Samuel (older, preacher in Ipswich)
Brother: John (younger, rector of St. Clement's in Ipswich)
Son: John (clergyman, b. 1609, d. 1693)

    University: Cambridge University (1603)

Author of books:
The Simple Cobler of Aggawam (1647, pamphlet, pseudonym Theodore de la Guard)



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