Ward is a popular name of both Old English origin and Old Gaelic origin. The two names are completely unrelated, with one being ethnically Germanic and the other being ethnically Celtic.
The Old English name derives from an occupational surname for a civil guard/keeper of the watch, or alternately as a topographical surname from the word "werd" ("marsh").
In England, the name dates to before the Norman Conquest/Invasion of 1066. The oldest public record of the surname dates to 1176. A Walter de la Warde was recorded in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk and a Robert le Warde was listed in the Oxfordshire Rolls for the same year.
The original coat of arms was born by Sir John Warde of Surrey, at the siege of Calais in 1345. This had the blazon of a blue field charged with a gold cross flory and is one of the most ancient of all arms on record.
The Old Gaelic surname derives from "Mac an Bhaird" ("son of the Bard"), a bard being a storyteller or poet.
In Ireland, Wards are prominent in Galway and Donegal and are said to descend from the earliest Bhaird. The earliest "Macaward" in Ireland appears as bishop of Clonfert, County Galway, in 1179.
In Scotland, a John de Warde was recorded as being a tenant of the Earl of Douglas in 1376.
In the Americas
The Ward surname was one of the first into the new American Colonies. A John Ward of "Elizabeth Cittie, Virginia" was recorded as head of his muster on February 24, 1624.