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William Ward (1817-1885)

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William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley (27 March 1817-7 May 1885) of the The Earl of Dudleys Round Oak Works

1817 Born at Edwardstone Boxford, Suffolk, the son of William Humble Ward (1781-1835) 10th Baron Ward, who had succeeded in the barony of Ward on the death of his second cousin, Foreign Secretary John Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley, in 1833 (the earldom becoming extinct). His mother was Amelia, daughter of William Cooch Pillans. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford and Trinity College, Oxford. He played first-class cricket for Oxford University Cricket Club between 1838 and 1842.

1844 Commissioned Round Oak Works through Mr. Richard Smith. Smith continued to manage them for many years, eventually being succeeded by his son as manager of the mills.[1]

1857 Founded the iron works at Round Oak as an outlet for pig iron made in the nearby blast furnaces.

1858 Conveyance of land and buildings at Round Oak from The Right Honourable George, Earl of Aberdeen to William, Baron Ward, which became the Round Oak Iron Works.[2]

1860 Inherited the bulk of the great fortune of the 3rd Viscount Dudley, whose barony had passed to his second cousin, William Humble Ward[3].

1867 Birth of his son William Humble Ward

1885 Died; his son William inherited the title and properties.



1885 Obituary [4]

The Right Hon. the EARL OF DUDLEY, who died on the 7th May 1885, was born on March 27th, 1817, and was the son of the Rev. William Humble Ward, by Amelia, daughter of Mr. William Gooch Pillans, of Bracondale, Norwich. He was educated, first at Eton, and afterwards at Trinity College, Oxford.

In 1833, on the death of the seventh Viscount, the titles of Viscount Ednam and Earl Dudley became extinct, and the Barony of Ward passed to the father of the deceased peer, who sat in the House of Lords as Lord Ward. In 1835, on the decease of his father, the late Earl succeeded to the title as eleventh Baron Ward. In 1860 he was created Earl of Dudley and Viscount Ednam, in the peerage of the United Kingdom.

The late Earl belonged to a family that has been long and closely connected with the iron trade. It was a bearer of his name that distinguished himself by the first application of pit coal to blast-furnace working, of which a record is preserved in his Metallum Martis - a volume that has long been classical in the annals of the iron industry. For upwards of a hundred years the holders of the Dudley titles and estates have been among the largest iron-masters and coal-owners in Great Britain.

In South Staffordshire, the late Earl carried on the Round Oak Ironworks, which have for many years been among the most important works of their kind in the country. Here, under the able management of Mr. Fisher Smith, several new processes and improvements have been tested and applied, including the Casson-Dormy furnace, which is still being worked. The collieries carried on by the late Earl have long been the most productive in Staffordshire.

The deceased peer took a lively interest for many years in the progress of the iron and steel industries, especially in his own country. On the occasion of the visit of the Institute to South Staffordshire in 1871, his Lordship entertained the members at dinner, and gave them a very cordial welcome. He was also a liberal contributor to the fund raised for the reception of the Institute on the occasion of the autumn meeting in London in 1881.

For many years Lord Dudley was distinguished as one of the most munificent patrons of art and music in the metropolis. He was chairman of the Worcestershire Quarter Sessions from 1859 to 1880, when he retired on account of failing health. The late Earl was twice married—first, in March 1851, to Selina Constance (who died in the same year), the eldest daughter of Mr. Hubert de Burgh, of West Drayton Manor, Middlesex; and next, in 1865, to Georgina Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Thomas Moncrieff, by whom he has issue six sons and one daughter. He was buried at Witley Court, which had been purchased for him by his trustees in 1838 from the Foley family.

Lord Dudley became a member of the Institute in 1871.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1868/03/20
  2. National Archives
  3. Biography of John William Ward, ODNB
  4. 1885 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries