|Collection||Papers of the Catholic Modernists - Papers of Wilfrid Ward |
|Admin history||Wilfrid Philip Ward (1856-1916) was one of nine children of Catholic convert parents William George Ward (1812-1882) and Frances M Wingfield (?1816-1898). William George Ward was a prominent Ultramontane theologian and philosopher.|
Ward attended Downside College, Somerset for a year, followed by St Edmund's College, Ware. Ward gained a B.A. degree from London University in the mid 1870s, and later attended the Catholic University College at Kensington founded by Henry Edward Manning (1808-1892). In 1877 Ward decided to become a priest and went to Rome to study at the Collegio Inglese, affiliated to the Gregorian University. In 1878 Ward returned to Britain to study at Ushaw College near Durham where he became the Choir Master and finally gave up the priesthood just before he was to be ordained in 1881. Ward then attended the Inner Temple in London to study to become a barrister but lost heart and entered on an ad hoc career as a writer on religious and philosophical topics. In 1885 and 1890 he lectured on philosophy at Ushaw college.
In 1887 Ward married Josephine Mary Hope-Scott (1864-1932). Their early married life was spent on the Isle of Wight in close company with the Tennysons and the Huxleys.
Ward's career as a biographer began when he decided to write a biography of his father. "William George Ward and the Oxford Movement" (London, 1889) proved to be more popular than Ward could have imagined. He had contacted his father's Oxford friends and supplied a demand for anecdotes and tales from that interesting period. The second volume "William George Ward and the Catholic Revival" (London, 1893) was also popular and prompted Herbert Vaughan (1832-1903) to invite Ward to write the biography of Nicholas Patrick Stephen Wiseman (1802-1865). Ward's "The Life and Times of Cardinal Wiseman" (London, 1897) immediately went into several editions and established Ward's reputation as an expert in the genre, subject and period.
Ward was drawn in to mediate between Henry Edward Manning's (1808-1892) executors and Edmund Sheridan Purcell (?1826-1899) over the controversial biography of Manning, published in 1896. Ward tried to persuade Purcell to alter his manuscript to make it more even handed but making no impression then tried to advise Manning's executors regarding what they should do.
In the summer of 1888 Ward was invited to join the Commission directrice of the "Catholic International Scientific Congress" held in Paris. In 1890 Ward was appointed examiner in Mental and Moral Philosophy to the Royal University of Ireland. In 1895 he joined the Catholic Universities Board to discuss whether Catholics should attend Oxbridge and was influential in securing the right of Catholics to attend the national universities.
Following the publication of Arthur James Balfour's (1848-1930) "Foundations of Belief" (1895) Ward established the Synthetic Society which aimed to discuss the foundations of belief with a view to constructing a working philosophy of religious belief and to promote dialogue between Catholics, Anglicans and Non-Conformists. The Society attracted many prominent members from the clergy, the universities and Parliament, only finally dissolving in 1908.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century Ward became involved with the Reunion Controversy which had been revived by Lord Halifax following a chance meeting with Abbe Fernand Portal (?1856-1926) in December 1889. The controversy became bound up with the question of the validity of Anglican Orders. In 1896 the Pope appointed a Commission to inquire into their validity but the Orders were later condemned and the matter was brought to a close. Throughout the controversy Ward corresponded with Anglicans and Catholics urging a calmer and more sympathetic temper.
In 1901 Ward was appointed as a commissioner to the Royal Commission on University Education in Ireland, which had been appointed in response to a unanimous request from the senate of the Royal University. The Commission was to inquire into the condition of higher education in Ireland outside Trinity College Dublin and to recommend any reforms necessary. Ward was influential in the writing of the report which was completed in 1903 and signed by all the commissioners except one. However the report was not acted upon and no Irish Education Act was forthcoming.
In 1904 Ward was elected the first chairman of the "Westminster Catholic Dining Society" which consisted of Catholic ladies and gentlemen who dined together about 8 times a year. After each diner a paper was read and discussed. Speakers were not exclusively Catholic; on one occasion Halifax spoke about the Reunion and Anglican Orders Controversy. The Ward collection includes a minute book from the Society and there are some references to the Society within Ward's general correspondence.
In 1905 negotiations began and in 1906 Ward was named as editor of the "Dublin Review", a position his father, W.G. Ward, had previously held. It had not been an easy decision to take on the Review but Ward was committed to making the "Dublin Review" a quality publication read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Ward's interest in diverse topics contributed to its success. Articles on science, literature and politics appeared alongside articles on philosophy and theology. Circulation increased. Ward's editorship of the "Dublin Review" was controversial coinciding with the height of Modernist fervor. In 1915 Ward was ousted as editor.
In July 1905 Ward was named as the official biographer of John Henry Newman (1801-1890). When Newman died it had generally been expected that Ward would be appointed as biographer but William Paine Neville (1824-1905), Newman's literary executor, had been very hesitant about a biography of Newman's life as a Catholic. Ward described his "Life of Cardinal Newman" as his "magnum opus" and he certainly had more trouble over it than any of his previous biographies. The Fathers at the Birmingham Oratory took a very great interest at every stage of the biography, an interest that bordered on interference. Their concern was heightened by Ward's line during the Modernist crisis and the effect it would have on Newman's reputation. The biography was finally published in 1912. Ward received letters of congratulation and approval from many quarters and especially from the Oratorian Fathers.
Ward made two lecture trips to the USA, in 1913-1914 and in 1915. He received a very favourable reception and greatly enjoyed himself. Ward lectured on Wiseman, Newman, Manning, Vaughan, Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), "Great English Journalists", and War, answering questions on literature and politics. Ward considered the main aim of his second trip to argue Britain's case regarding World War I. Ward met and stayed with prominent men, Cardinals and politicians.
Following the outbreak of World War I Ward made strenuous efforts to justify Britain's part in the war. He organised a statement signed by every English ecclesiastic of importance to the effect that Britain had no choice but to go to war once the neutrality of Belgium had been threatened. Ward gathered testimonies detailing the atrocities committed by the German forces and weighed the evidence carefully before publishing them, and also wrote a propaganda pamphlet of which 10,000 copies were distributed in Spain.
Ward died in April 1916 following a painful illness and operation which for a time had given hope of an invalid life. Much of Ward's correspondence from this period is dictated, owing to the constant pain he suffered, and demonstrates the depth of his faith. His friendship with Friedrich Von Hugel (1852-1925) was a particular comfort to Ward during these last weeks.
Throughout his career Ward associated and corresponded with the great men of his day on a variety of subjects. The Modernist thinkers George Tyrrell (1861-1909), Henri Bremond (1865-1933) and Von Hugel are all counted amongst Ward's correspondents as are Bishops, Archbishops, Lords, Earls and Dukes. Correspondence with his friends Arthur James Balfour and George Wyndham (1863-1913) often contains comment on the current political situation in Parliament, Ireland and the country at large.
|Publication note||Maisie Ward (1889-1975) made extensive use of her father's papers to write a two-volume biography of him. Her hand is much in evidence within the collection. Subsequent use has been made of the collection, particularly of the Von Hugel correspondence, by De la Bedoyere and Barmann, and the George Tyrrell correspondence by Mary Jo Weaver.|
Maisie Ward, "The Wilfrid Wards and the transition: I. The nineteenth century" (London: Sheed & Ward, 1934).
Maisie Ward, "The Wilfrid Wards and the transition: 2 Insurrection versus resurrection" (London: Sheed & Ward, 1937).
Michael De La Bedoyère, "The life of Baron von Hügel" (London: Dent, ).
Lawrence Francis Barmann, "Baron Friedrich von Hügel and the Modernist crisis in England" (London: Cambridge University Press, 1972).
George Tyrrell, "Letters from a "modernist": the letters of George Tyrrell to Wilfrid Ward, 1893-1908; introduced and annotated by Mary Jo Weaver" (Shepherdstown: Patmos London: Sheed and Ward, c1981).