John William Ward, Earl of Dudley

9th Aug 1781 - 6th May 1833

Claimant or beneficiary


The trustees of John William Ward, Earl of Dudley (including Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter) were awarded compensation for the enslaved people on 3 estates, Whitney and Rymesbury in Clarendon and New Yarmouth in Vere, all in Jamaica.   

  1. Son of William Ward, 3rd Viscount Dudley & Ward and Julia Bosvile, educ. Edinburgh 1797-8, Oriel Oxford 1799 (B.A. Corpus 1802), unmarried, succeeded father as 4th Viscount April 1823, created Earl of Dudley 05/10/1827. Politician and statesman, MP 1802-1823, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 1827-1828. Much of his wealth flowed from his inheritance in Worcestershire and Staffordshire, with extensive coal mines, said to generate an income of £120,000. The Jamaican estates had come to him from his paternal grandmother (Mary Lady Viscountess Dudley and Ward, née Carver, q.v.). He left £350,000 in personalty. His estate passed to his cousin, whose son William Ward (1817-1885) was created 1st Earl of Dudley of the second creation in 1860 and left £1,026,000 in personalty.

  2. Ward was a student of Dugald Stewart (1753-1828, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Edinburgh, 1785-1810) during the session 1797/8. He also lived with the Stewarts while he was a student, and was a life-long correspondent with the poet, Helen D'Arcy Stewart (nee Cranstoun, 1765-1838). Dugald Stewart critiqued slavery and the slave trade and slavery in the majority of his lectures. Ward was connected to Granville Sharp and other abolitionists in London, and as a Member of Parliament for Wareham, spoke for the abolition of the slave trade. He promoted amelioration, rather than the complete abolition, of slavery, stating in 1826 that, 'Whatever might be the defects of the West-India system, it did not exhibit that uniform picture of relentless cruelty on the one side, and of despairing misery on the other.'

  3. Boyle's 1835 shows John Benbow as of 1 Stone-buildings, Lincoln's Inn (p. 257) with W. Yeates Alban and J.H. Benbow jun. The Earl of Dudley died at his house in Park Lane aged 52 [1833].

  4. Trustees of Earl of Dudley closed their accounts yesterday, allowing 21 days until 27th of March Lord Ward's birthday, for the final adjustments. ..'from the 6th of March, all coal, stone or any other material, will be sold by Lord Ward. This is in accordance with the late Earl's will, so, in point of fact, Lord Ward is now in possession of his vast estates.'


T71/859 Clarendon nos. 284 and 320; T71/857 Vere no. 70.

T71/962 Vere no. 70: letter 14/09/1835 from solicitors (Alban & Benbow) for the trustees and executors of late Earl of Dudley, enclosing extract from will of Earl of Dudley. Begs compensation to be awarded to Phil[l]potts etc. the executors and trustees. Hibbert Oates had made claim on the part of the Heirs of the Earl of Dudley instead of the Trustees: 'we presume as they are uncontested this mistake is unimportant.'

  1. R. G. Thorne, 'Ward, Hon. John William (1781-1833) of Himley Hall, Staffs.', History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820: William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? A biographical dictionary of British wealth-holders Volume One 1809-1839 (London, Social Affairs Unit, 2009) reference 1833/17.

  2. Email from Onni Gust, 08/09/2018 sourced to: Samuel Henry Romilly (ed), Letters to Ivy from the first Earl of Dudley (1905) esp. pp. 321-322; Ward's contribution to the abolition debate on Hansard online, [accessed 25/10/2018]; lecture notes of J Lee Eden, Edinburgh University Archives, Dc8.143.

  3. Boyle's Directory 1835 p. 257. Times 07/03/1833 p. 7.

  4. Times 11/03/1845 p. 6.

We are grateful to Onni Gust for her assistance with compiling this entry.

Further Information


Summary of will; of 26 July 1831; after reciting amongst other things that 'he was entitled to the remainder or reversion in fee simple expectant upon his own death and failure of the issue male of his body of or in several plantations...situate in the Island of Jamaica late of or belonging to his grandmother Mary Viscountess Dudley and Ward....gave and devised unto certain trustees The Rt Hon George Earl of Aberdeen and the Rt Hon James Abercromby...his said remainder and reversion of or in all and singular the said plantations and estates and the negro and other slaves thereon to hold the uses upon and for the trusts...and purposes in his said will and in part hereafter mentioned viz in default of heirs of his body and subject with other estates to an Annuity of six thousand pounds to his cousin the Rev. William Humble Ward now Lord Ward for his life to the use of the Rt Rev H Lord Bishop of Exeter [Devon], the Rt Hon Edward John Baron Hatherton, then Edward John Littleton, Francis Downing Esq. and John Benbow Esq. for the term of 500 years upon trust during the term of 12 years to raise annually such sums for the person entitled in remainder to his estates until he should attain the age of twenty-five years as in the said will mentioned. And then to raise certain sums for the maintenance and education of the younger children of the said Lord Ward and also for portions for such younger children as in the said will mentioned. And the said Testator directed that his last named trustees should recevie the rents and profits of his Mines and Estates during the said term of twelve years and apply the same in discharge of any sums charged upon the said estates and lay out and invest the residue in the purchase of freeholds copyholds or leasehold estates... And the said testator of his said will appointed the said Bishop of Exeter, EJBaronH, FD and JB executors.'

Earl of Dudley died 6 March 1833 a bachelor; will proved 17 September 1833 'by the four executors'.

Wealth at death
Edinburgh; Oxford (Oriel) [1797-8; 1799-1802 ]
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (3)

£5,480 13s 1d
Beneficiary deceased
£2,412 6s 8d
Beneficiary deceased
£4,836 4s 7d
Other association

Associated Estates (3)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1823 [SY] - 1833 [EY] → Owner
1823 [SY] - 06/05/1833 [ED] → Owner
1823 [SY] - 06/05/1833 [ED] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (2)

Prints, Drawings & Paintings
Print, portrait bust of John William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley. Stipple engraving by Frederick Christian Lewis after Joseph Slater, early-19th... 
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Council member
University of London (University College, London)...... 
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Statement by the Council of the University of London, Explanatory of the Nature and Objects of the Institution (London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green / John Murray,...

Political (1)

election →
Downton Wiltshire
1802 - 1803
election →
Worcestershire Worcestershire
1803 - 1806
election →
Petersfield Hampshire
1806 - 1807
election →
Wareham Dorset
1807 - 1812
election →
Ilchester Somerset
1812 - 1818
election →
Bossinney Cornwall
1819 - 1823

Relationships (2)

Grandson → Grandmother
Son → Father

Addresses (3)

Norwood, Surrey, South-east England, England
Himley Hall, Dudley, Worcestershire, West Midlands, England
Park Lane , Westminster, London, London, England