William Ward
(1769–1823)

Radical, and “spiritual father”

William Ward, a printer and editor, met William Carey just before Carey sailed for India. Carey invited Ward to set up a printing press there for Scripture translations, and in 1799 Ward arrived with the Marshmans and others. He later married the widow of fellow missionary John Fountain.

Ward set up the first mission press in North India. He also translated, wrote, and preached at every opportunity; some considered him Serampore’s finest preacher. Two years after his arrival, he toured the interior with first convert Krishna Pal preaching and distributing Scriptures. “His knowledge of the character and habits of the natives surpassed that of either of his colleagues,” wrote one observer, “and few Europeans have ever been more successful in dealing with [the natives].”

Ward had radical sympathies that twice landed him in court during his editorial days in England. He had belonged to a “questionable” political society and “embibed in democratic notions created by the French Revolution.” He was acquitted both times.

In India, Ward’s intellectual curiosity thrived. After several years’ research he wrote A View of the History, Literature, and Mythology of the Hindoos, including a minute description of their manners and customs, and translations from their principal works. He later worked with Joshua Marshman in producing Indian periodicals.

For William Carey, Ward was a godsend. Ward was 30 when he came to Serampore, and he captured the admiration of an adolescent Felix Carey, who was bound for trouble. Felix was soon working at the press, and under Ward’s influence, he became a Christian. “How often he has upheld me,” Felix said, “when my feet well-nigh slipped! He was my spiritual ...

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