Governor Samuel Ward

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Governor Samuel Ward's Geni Profile

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Samuel Ward

Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: Newport, RI, USA
Death: March 26, 1776 (50)
Philadelphia, PA, USA (Smallpox)
Place of Burial: Newport, RI, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Governor Richard Ward and Mary Ward
Husband of Anne Ward
Father of catherine Greene and Lt.-Col. Samuel Ward, Jr. (Rev War Veteran)
Brother of Thomas Ward; Mary Flagg; Elizabeth Ward and Amey Vernon (Ward)

Managed by: Owen Thomas Cooke
Last Updated:

About Governor Samuel Ward

Samuel Ward was an American farmer, shop keeper, and statesman from Westerly, Rhode Island. He served as a colonial Governor of Rhode Island and later as a delegate to the Continental Congress. In 1764, Ward joined several others as an original fellow or trustee for the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the original name for Brown University).

He was born 25 May 1725 in Newport, Rhode Island, a son of Richard Ward and Mary Tillinghast of Rhode Island, was a member of the Continental Congress. He died in Philadelphia before he had the opportunity to sign the Declaration of Independence. His son Samuel Jr. was an officer in the Revolutionary War and the family is associated with the family of General Nathaniel Greene.

Samuel became one of the most prominent citizens of Rhode Island and held about every major office in the colony. He graduated from Harvard College in 1733.

He was elected in 1756 to represent the town of Westerly in the Rhode Island Colonial Assembly. He remained in the Assembly until 1759.

During the French and Indian War, he represented Rhode Island at a Convention held in Hartford to consult with Lord Loudoun, commander of the British forces on the best course for the Colonies to pursue in the war. The report of the Commissioners of Rhode Island was approved by the convention.

He was elected Governor of the Colony in May 1762. He was reelected Governor in 1765. When the British Parliament passed their infamous Stamp Act, he immediately made his opposition known. He was the only one of the 13 Colonial Governors who refused to take an oath to sustain and enforce the law. He was elected a third time as governor in 1766.

Samuel was active in founding Rhode Island College, which was later renamed Brown University. He became a Trustee of the college from 1764 to 1776.

The Stamp Act and other steps taken by the British were the direct forerunners of the American Revolution. American Colonists became enraged over the fact they were allowed no part in Parliament in passing any of these acts. A Colonial Congress met at New York and included Henry Ward, a younger brother of Samuel Sr. to debate what steps to take.

In 1773, Samuel, who was no longer governer, wrote a letter to the citizens of Westerly proposing and advocating a united front in opposition to all attempts by the British to bring taxed tea into Newport. In 1774, he was chosen chairman of a town committee and he introduced a series of resolutions which opposed any acts which threatened the rights of the people of the colonies.

He was appointed a delegate from Rhode Island to the Continental Congress which met at Philadelphia on 5 Sep 1774. He was always called to the Chair when Congress went into a Committee of the Whole. He was Chairman of the Committee that selected Colonel George Washington to take command of the Colonial Army.

During his tenure at the Congress, Samuel contracted smallpox and suffered greatly until his death. He was buried in the cemetery of the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where a monument was erected in his meory by order of the Rhode Island General Assembly. In 1860, his remains were removed to the cemetery of Newport, RI and re-interred there. His untimely death shocked the delegates to the Congress. They passed a resolution honoring him and all the delegates attended his funeral.

Samuel Sr. married Anne Ray, daughter of Simon Ray III, a farmer from Block Island and Deborah Greene. He then settled down on a farm at Westerly. They had 11 children.

The remains of Governor Ward were exhumed and removed to Rhode Island in 1860. The slab over his grave, contains the following inscription, written by John Jay:

"In memory of the Honorable Samuel Ward, formerly Governor of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; afterwards delegated from that colony to the General Congress; in which station, he died, at Philadelphia, of the small pox, March 26th, 1776, in the fifty-first year of his age. His great abilities, his unshaken integrity, his ardor in the cause of freedom, his fidelity in the offices he filled, induced the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to erect this grateful testimony of their respect."-Providence Press, March 19, 1860.

Samuel Ward (May 25, 1725 – March 26, 1776) was an American farmer, shop keeper, and statesman from Westerly, Rhode Island. He twice served as a colonial Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and later as a delegate to the Continental Congress. Between terms serving as Governor of the colony in 1764, Ward joined John Brown, Nicholas Brown, William Ellery, Stephen Hopkins, the Reverend James Manning, the Reverend Ezra Stiles and several others as an original fellow or trustee for the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the original name for Brown University).[1]


  • 1 Childhood
  • 2 Public service
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Memorials to Ward
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 External links


Samuel was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1725 to Richard Ward and Mary Tillinghast Ward, Seventh Day Baptists who observed Saturday as the Sabbath. Richard was a merchant in Newport, and served as the colonial governor of Rhode Island in 1741 and 1742. Very little is known of Samuel's early life and education. In 1745 he married Anna Ray, from nearby Block Island, and the couple settled in Westerly where Ward took up farming and opened a store. [edit] Public service

Ward began his public career when he was elected to the colony's General Assembly in 1756, and he served there until 1758. Between 1758 and 1761 he made three unsuccessful attempts to be elected governor. In 1761 the Assembly named him to the office of Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He served only a year before being elected Governor in 1762. He served additional terms as governor in 1765-66. He was also the only colonial governor who refused the oath to enforce the Stamp Act.

In 1774, Rhode Island sent Ward to the Continental Congress. He served on several important committees, including the Committee on Secrets and frequently sat in the chair when the Congress met as a committee of the whole. While at the Congress Ward contracted smallpox and died in Philadelphia three months before he would have signed the Declaration of Independence. He was originally buried in Philadelphia but, in 1860, he was reinterred in the Common Burying Ground and Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.

Personal life

Samuel and Anna had eleven children. Their second son Samuel Ward, Jr. served as a Lt. Colonel in the Continental Army. Their great-granddaughter was Julia Ward Howe who composed the "Battle Hymn of the Republic". Ward was also one of those who joined together to found the College of Rhode Island (now Brown University) which he served as a trustee from 1764 until his death.

Governor Sam Ward was twice descended (in both his maternal and paternal lines) from Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island. His father was Richard Ward, an earlier governor of the colony.

Memorials to Ward

In the 1937, the Town of Westerly, Rhode Island, honored Governor Ward's memory by dedicating its new high school for him.[1] The road that formerly fronted the main building of the current high school campus was also named for his family, Ward Avenue. The large Georgian-style building has served the town's students faithfully since 1939 and is currently part of a larger high school campus formed in 2005. The school is made up of two buildings, the Ward Building and Babcock Hall (the former junior high school, built at the same time.) In the late 20th Century, following the path of other school districts, Ward High School was officially renamed Westerly High School, keeping its letters, WHS.[citation needed] But, in keeping with the spirit of the original dedication, the high school's main auditorium was given the former governor's name and a large brass plaque now greets visitors at the space's public entry.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "The History of Westerly / Ward Senior High School". Westerly High School. Retrieved 2009-03-14. [dead link]

External links United States portal Rhode Island portal

   * Biographic sketch at U.S. Congress website
   * The Library of Congress American Memory Collection, Letters of the Delegates to Congress - Volumes 1-3 contain his letters to his children and the diaries he kept of events at the Congress; these tell Ward's story poignantly.
   * Brown University Charter
   * Chronological list of Rhode Island leaders

Colonial Governors of Rhode Island Judges of Portsmouth (1638–1640) Coddington · Hutchinson State Seal of Rhode Island Judge of Newport (1639–1640) Coddington Governor of Newport and Portsmouth (1640–1647) Coddington Chief Officer (Providence and Warwick) (1644–1647) Williams Presidents of Rhode Island (Patent of 1643) (1647–1663) Coggeshall · J. Clarke · Smith · N. Easton · Gorton · Smith · Dexter · N. Easton · Williams · Arnold · Brenton · Arnold Governors of Newport and Portsmouth (Coddington Commission) (1651–1654) Coddington · J. Sanford Governors of Rhode Island (Charter of 1663) (1663–1686) Arnold · Brenton · Arnold · N. Easton · Coddington · W. Clarke · Arnold · Coddington · J. Cranston · P. Sanford · Coddington Jr. · Bull · W. Clarke Governors under Dominion of New England (1686–1689) Dudley · Andros Governors of Rhode Island (1689–1776) Bull · J. Easton · Carr · W. Clarke · S. Cranston · Jenckes · W. Wanton · John Wanton · R. Ward · Greene · G. Wanton · Greene · G. Wanton · Greene · Hopkins · Greene · Hopkins · S. Ward · Hopkins · S. Ward · Hopkins · Lyndon · Joseph Wanton Italics: Gorton, Smith and Dexter were presidents of Providence and Warwick only, since Coddington had received a commission to remove Newport and Portsmouth from their jurisdiction, valid from 1651 to 1654; before and after these dates the President presided over all four towns of the colony. Under the Dominion of New England, Dudley only presided over the "Narragansett country," later to become Washington County, Rhode Island; the remainder of the colony later fell under Andros' administration.

Source: Downloaded May 2011 from

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Governor Samuel Ward's Timeline

May 25, 1725
Newport, RI, USA
Age 26
November 17, 1756
Age 31
East Greenwich, Kent, Rhode Island, United States
March 26, 1776
Age 50
Philadelphia, PA, USA
Newport, RI, USA