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Letters of William Sparrow Ward (1811-1897), vicar of Iver

Our reference D-X 1388

William Sparrow Ward was the son of Rev. Edward Ward (1772-1835) and followed his father as vicar of Iver from 1835 to 1889. He was married twice and the Centre has a collection of family correspondence, which includes letters to and from both of his wives.


Georgina Brown

William's first wife was Georgina Brown, the daughter of George Brown, formerly a member of the Council, Bombay. She married William Sparrow Ward on 29 April 1852. However she died tragically young at the age of 43 in October 1862.

These letters are from Georgina Brown to her husband to be, the first accepting his proposal of marriage (D-X 1388/4) and the second discussing arrangements for the wedding (D-X 1388/12)

William Ward started courting his second wife less than a year after Georgina's death, but it should be stressed that his letters make it clear how much he loved her and how desperately he missed her, "she was so entirely unselfish, so devoted to others, so thoughtful to promote their happiness that all who knew her were greatly attached to her and it will be a long time before they will cease to regret the loss of their kind and dear friend, their dearest Georgie". His only daughter was named after her.


Jeanne Marie Lombard

William Ward met Marie Lombard (1841-1913) at the spa town of Divonne in the spring of 1863, where he was recuperating following the death of his wife and she was visiting her sister Anna. He fell passionately in love with the young Swiss woman and after a courtship of a few months he proposed on 17 August 1863. Marie was initially reluctant, he was old enough to be her father and marriage would mean leaving her family, county, culture and language, to become a vicar’s wife in a foreign country away from her family and friends.

The first item is a draft of the letter which she wrote accepting his proposal, she has written in English which is very fluent considering that her first language was French. The second is the album in which she collected the letters which William Ward wrote to her each week during their courtship. They contain many details of his daily life in Iver, the activities he undertook and the tasks she would be expected to fulfil as his wife. This page shows the violets which he picked from the vicarage garden and sent to her as a token of affection.

The couple eventually married in Geneva in September 1864. Despite the age gap the marriage was a happy one, producing two children William Henry Ward (1865-1924) and Georgiana Marie Anna (1867-1964). All four of the family are buried in the churchyard in Iver.


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Last updated: 2 April 2019

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