John Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley

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The Right Honourable
The Earl of Dudley
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
In office
30 April 1827 (1827-04-30) – 2 June 1828 (1828-06-02)
Monarch George IV
Prime Minister George Canning
The Viscount Goderich
The Duke of Wellington
Preceded by George Canning
Succeeded by The Earl of Aberdeen
Personal details
Born (1781-08-09)9 August 1781
Died 6 March 1833(1833-03-06) (aged 51)
Nationality British
Political party Tory
Parents William Ward, 3rd Viscount Dudley and Ward
Julia Bosville
Alma mater

John William Ward, 1st Earl of Dudley, PC, FRS (9 August 1781 – 6 March 1833), known as the Honourable John Ward from 1788 to 1823 and as the 4th Viscount Dudley and Ward from 1823 to 1827, was a British politician. He served as Foreign Secretary from 1827 to 1828.

Background and education

Dudley was the son of William Ward, 3rd Viscount Dudley and Ward, and his wife Julia Bosville, and was educated at Oxford University (starting at Oriel College in 1798 and transferring to Corpus Christi College, Oxford as a Gentleman Commoner in 1800).

Political career

Dudley entered the House of Commons in 1802 as one of two representatives for Downton. He held this seat until 1803 and later represented Worcestershire from 1803 to 1806, Petersfield from 1806 to 1807, Wareham from 1807 to 1812, Ilchester from 1812 to 1819 and Bossiney from 1819 to 1823. The latter year he succeeded his father in the peerage and took his seat in the House of Lords.

In 1827 Ward was appointed Foreign Secretary under George Canning, a post he held also under Lord Goderich and the Duke of Wellington, resigning office in May 1828. In 1827 he was admitted to the Privy Council and created Viscount Ednam, of Ednam in the County of Roxburgh, and Earl of Dudley, of Dudley Castle in the County of Stafford. As foreign minister Ward was only a cipher; but he was a man of considerable learning and had some reputation as a writer and a talker. Dudley took an interest in the foundation of the University of London, and his Letters to Edward Copleston, the Bishop of Llandaff, were published by the bishop in 1840.

According to the Legacies of British Slave-Ownership at the University College London, Dudley's estate was compensated for the emancipation of slaves by the British government's Slavery Abolition Act 1833 with the Slave Compensation Act 1837. The British Government took out a £15 million loan (worth £1.27 billion in 2022[1]) with interest from Nathan Mayer Rothschild and Moses Montefiore which was subsequently paid off by the British taxpayers (ending in 2015). Dudley was associated with three different cases, he owned 665 slaves in Jamaica and his estate was awarded a £12,728 payment at the time (worth £1.08 million in 2022[1]).[2] Dudley had died by the time the funds came through, so his estate was distributed among; his cousin William Humble Ward, 10th Baron Ward, Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter, Edward Littleton, 1st Baron Hatherton, Edward John Littleton, Francis Downing and John Benbow.

Personal life

Dudley died unmarried on 6 March 1833, aged 51. His two viscountcies and his earldom became extinct on his death while he was succeeded in his junior title of Baron Ward by his second cousin Reverend William Humble Ward.

Industries of the estate

As Lord of Dudley, John Ward inherited mineral bearing lands in the Black Country region of England which included coal and limestone mines and furnaces. An agreement to construct a rail line was signed in 1827 by James Foster, a local ironmaster, and Francis Downing, the mineral agent of John William Ward.[3] The line connected some of the coal pits owned by the Dudley estate to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. The line opened in June 1829 and was operated by the early steam locomotive Agenoria. This line was later connected to a network of private railways owned by John Ward's successors, which became known as the Earl of Dudley’s Railway.[4]

John William Ward inherited estates in Jamaica from his grandmother Mary, Viscountess Dudley and Ward, which included enslaved people. After emancipation of the slaves in 1833, the Dudley estate received compensation for the freed slaves (the Earl having died by this time).[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2015), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  2. "John William Ward, Earl of Dudley". University College London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Retrieved on 20 March 2019.
  3. Fort, David (1989). Paul Collins (ed.). Stourbridge and its Historic Locomotives. Dudley, UK: Dudley Leisure Services. ISBN 978-0-900911-25-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Williams, Ned (2014). The Earl of Dudley's Railway. History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-9308-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "'John William Ward, Earl of Dudley', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database". Retrieved 17 November 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [ "Dudley, Barons and Earls of" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Hon. Edward Bouverie
Viscount Folkestone
Member of Parliament for Downton
With: Hon. Edward Bouverie 1802–1803
Sir John Blaquiere 1803
Succeeded by
Sir John Blaquiere
Viscount Marsham
Preceded by
Edward Foley
William Lygon
Member of Parliament for Worcestershire
With: William Lygon (I) 1803–1806
William Lygon (II)) 1806
Succeeded by
William Lygon
William Lyttelton
Preceded by
Hylton Jolliffe
William Best
Member of Parliament for Petersfield
With: Hylton Jolliffe
Succeeded by
Hylton Jolliffe
Booth Grey
Preceded by
Andrew Strahan
Jonathan Raine
Member of Parliament for Wareham
With: Sir Granby Thomas Calcraft 1807–1808
Sir Samuel Romilly 1808–1812
Succeeded by
Robert Gordon
Theodore Henry Broadhead
Preceded by
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Michael Angelo Taylor
Member of Parliament for Ilchester
With: George Philips
Succeeded by
Sir Isaac Coffin
John Merest
Preceded by
James Stuart Wortley
Sir Compton Domvile
Member of Parliament for Bossiney
With: Sir Compton Domvile
Succeeded by
Sir Compton Domvile
John Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie
Political offices
Preceded by
George Canning
Foreign Secretary
Succeeded by
The Earl of Aberdeen
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl of Dudley
Peerage of Great Britain
Preceded by
William Ward
Viscount Dudley and Ward
Peerage of England
Preceded by
William Ward
Baron Ward
Succeeded by
William Humble Ward