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Seth WardSeth Ward
(1617-1689)

Bishop of Exeter
Bishop of Salisbury
Born: March 1617 at Aspenden, Hertfordshire
Died: 6th January 1689 at Knightsbridge, Middlesex


Seth, the son of John Ward an Herfordshire attorney, was educated at Cambridge, from whence he was compelled to remove himself by the Parliamentarian Commissioners. He found refuge in Oxford, where he was appointed Savilian Professor Astronomy and was enabled to hold his preferment without taking the covenant. In 1662, not long after the Restoration, he succeeded John Gauden to the See of Exeter. He was already Dean of that City. Very severe to Nonconformists, he was a greater benefactor to his Cathedral than any bishop since the Reformation. He first cast out the buyers and sellers who had usurped the cloister and caused the partition in the Cathedral Church to be pulled down. He repaired and beautified the building, the expenses whereof amounted to 25,000. He also bought a new "pair of organs," esteemed the best in England, which cost 2,000. Bishop Ward was translated to Salisbury in 1667 where he also set about repairs necessitated by the disorders of the Civil War. The Bishop's Palace, he completely restored, it having fallen into ruin. A survey of the entire Cathedral at Salisbury was made at Bishop Ward's request to Sir Christopher Wren, principally with a view to the security of the spire. Beside other benefactions to Salisbury, he founded in it a hospital for widows of the clergy of the diocese. Bishop Ward's learning was considerable, his charity and hospitality very great. He was one of the first to assist in the establishment of the Royal Society. He died in Knightsbridge in January 1688, having long since lost his faculties and therefore unaware of the great events of the Glorious Revolution during which king James II lodged in his Episcopal Palace. Bishop Ward was buried in his own Cathedral at Salisbury, where a tablet to his memory exists in the south transept.

Edited from Richard John King's "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division" (1903).