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The Journal of Edward Ward 1850-51

The Author

page 13

The Author

Edward Robert Ward was born on December 18th, 1825, the eldest son of the Hon. and Rev. Henry Ward of Killinchy, County Down, Northern Ireland. He was educated at The King's School, Castletown, Isle of Man, afterwards going to Trinity College, Dublin, where he took his degree in Law.

He was destined for the English Bar when he was attracted by the prospect of a career in the colony of New Zealand. Times were hard and emigration was being widely discussed. A proposed Church of England settlement in New Zealand had caught the imagination of the public and the Canterbury Association was formed with support from influential people throughout the country. John Robert Godley, an Irishman from Killegar, County Leitrim, had worked out the plan of the Canterbury Settlement with Edward Gibbon Wakefield, whose New Zealand Company had already helped to found four settlements in the colony. The Association planned to transplant a cross-section of English life, and well educated young men of good family were wanted to act as leaders of parties of skilled artisans and agriculturists.

Edward Ward, encouraged by his father, joined the enterprise, taking with him two of his younger brothers, Henry and Hamilton, and also a number of assisted emigrants from the county. Before sailing with the first party of 'Canterbury Pilgrims' in September, 1850, he became a member of the committee of the Society of Canterbury Colonists, formed in London to represent the buyers of land in dealings with the Association, through J. R. Godley, the Chief Agent. In New Zealand this committee became the page 14Council of the Society of Land Purchasers, to which Edward Ward was elected in 1851.

After building temporary shelter at Lyttelton, Edward Ward explored the country as far north as Oxford, which was originally intended to be the main country town of the settlement, and finally decided to make his home on Quail Island, in Lyttelton Harbour.

Within two months of his arrival he was appointed a Justice of the Peace by the Governor, Sir George Grey, and his legal training was of great assistance to J. R. Godley, with whom he quickly became firm friends. Able and energetic, he seemed destined to become one of the leaders of the young settlement. At the end of the first six months, with his land beginning to be stocked and cultivated, his house nearly completed, and the prospect of returning to Ireland in two years' time to marry, he could look forward to a happy and distinguished career in the colony.

It was a tragedy for the whole of Canterbury when on June 23rd, 1851, both Edward Ward and his brother Henry were drowned when their boat capsized in Lyttelton Harbour.

After the death of his elder brothers, Hamilton Ward stayed with Mr and Mrs Godley until he was joined by another brother, Crosbie who arrived by the Stag in May, 1852. Crosbie Ward later became a Member of Parliament, Minister of the Crown and a brilliant editor of the Lyttelton Times. He is remembered also for his witty verses on topical affairs.

In 1857 Hamilton Ward married Marcia Townsend and Crosbie married her younger sister. Mary King of Ballylin, King's County, to whom Edward was engaged, married his cousin, Captain the Hon. Henry Ward, who became the fifth Viscount Bangor.

The three slim volumes of manuscript which comprise this journal—notebooks which Edward Ward bought in London before his departure—are now housed in the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch.