Ned Ward

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Ned Ward, 1731

Ned Ward (1667 – 20 June 1731), also known as Edward Ward, was a satirical writer and publican in the late 17th and early 18th century, based in London. His most famous work, The London Spy, appeared in 18 monthly instalments from November 1698, it was described by its author as a "complete survey" of the London scene. It was published in book form in 1703.


Early life

Ned Ward was born in 1667 in Oxfordshire. According to Theophilus Cibber, Ward was "a man of low extraction, and who never received any regular education",[1] but he is likely to have been educated at one of the grammar schools of Oxfordshire.[2] By 1691 Ward had made his way to London. His first publication, The Poet's Ramble After Riches, described his poverty and his disappointment of not receiving an inheritance through humorous Hudibrastic couplets. Further prose satires were published in 1695, Female Policy Detected, or, The Arts of Designing Woman Laid Open, and in 1698, A Trip to Jamaica. This travel account, based on Ward's trip to Port Royal, Jamaica in 1687, was a satire of the way in which settlers were recruited to the Americas. Its success led to the publication of A Trip to New England in 1699.

Literary success

Ward adapted the format of A Trip to Jamaica and A Trip to New England to his experiences of London in The London Spy, which was published in eighteen monthly parts from November 1698.[3] Written in the authorial voice of a philosopher who abandons his scholarly pursuits in favour of actual experience,[4] The London Spy established Ward's name and style within the literary world, and was so successful that the series was reprinted in an edition in 1703,[5] and for over a decade Ward's writings were sold and advertised under the caption of "by the Author of The London Spy".[6] The London Spy was followed by over one hundred satires of prose and verse, of which typical targets included ale house keepers, dissenting ministers, lawyers and booksellers, he extended some of these works into periodicals, such as The Weekly Comedy, as it is Dayly Acted at most Coffee-Houses in London in 1699.

Political life

Ward was involved in political controversy from as early as 1698. A "High-Church Tory",[7] he launched several attacks on low-church moderation and conformity, the first of them Ecclesia et factio (1698). Ward's best-known political publication, Hudibras Redivivus, issued in twenty-four monthly parts between 1705 and 1707, drew upon topical material from the political struggle. Taken into custody both in February and June 1706, Ward was charged with seditious libel for accusing the queen of failing to support the Tories in parliament and was condemned to stand in the pillory.

Tavern life

Ward was publican at the King's Head Tavern, next door to Gray's Inn, London, from 1699. In 1712 Ward opened an alehouse near Clerkenwell Green. Under the rule of King George I his writings somewhat abated. His writings after 1712 focused closely on local and personal experiences, particularly within The Merry Travellers of 1712, which spoke of his own customers. From 1717 to (approx) 1730 Ward kept the Bacchus Tavern in Moorfields.[8] During this time Ward's writings continued to gain popularity and spread across to the Americas, where even Cotton Mather, the socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, author and pamphleteer, in 1726 warned against "such Pestilences, and indeed all those worse than Egyptian Toads (the Spawns of a Butler, and a Brown, and a Ward…)". Close, geographically to Grub Street, Moorfields offered Ward proximity to his readership, becoming a natural target for Alexander Pope. Between late 1729 and late 1730, Ward left the Bacchus tavern and established himself in the British Coffee House in Fullwood's Rents near Gray's Inn.


On 20 June 1731 Ward died and was buried in Old St. Pancras Churchyard in north London on 27 June. His grave is lost and he is not listed on the Burdett-Coutts Memorial to important lost graves therein. His obituary in Applebee's Original Weekly Journal of 28 September 1731 published the names of his wife and children, but there is no record of his marriage.


Trip accounts

Ward drew on his own experiences in Port Royal to develop the 'trip format,' a format that he continued to use for the first decade of his prominence. Ward had travelled to Jamaica in the hope of escaping the poverty he experienced in London, but he found things no more encouraging in the 'New World' than the Old. This led him to write a biting attack, not only on the 'New World' itself, but on the authors who had written about the 'New World' in such glowing terms. This type of satirical trip-account, first used by Ward on Jamaica, was extended by him to New-England (which he did not visit), Islington, Sadler's Wells, Bath and Stourbridge.

Prose satires

In The London Spy, Ward presented the seamier side of life by using graphic description, racy anecdotes and character sketches. Some of these satires were expanded into periodicals, allowing for an extended commentary on specific human and individual vices that Ward experienced personally, particularly within London and his own taverns.


  • The Poet's Ramble After Riches (1691)
  • Female Policy Detected, or, The Arts of a Designing Woman Laid Open (1695)
  • A Trip to Jamaica (1698) – broadsheet based on personal experience[9]
  • A Trip to New-England (1699)
  • The London Spy (1698)
  • Sot's Paradise (1698)
  • Ecclesia et factio (1698)
  • The World Bewitched (1699)
  • A Trip to Islington (1699)
  • A Trip to Sadler's Wells (1699)
  • The Weekly Comedy, as it is Dayly Acted at most Coffee-Houses in London (1699; reworked and republished as The Humours of a Coffee-House, 1707)
  • A Trip to Bath (1700)
  • A Trip to Stourbridge (1700)
  • A Journey to Hell (1700–1705)
  • The Dissenting Hypocrite (1704)
  • Honesty in Distress but Relieved by No Party (1705)
  • Hubibras Redivivus (twelve monthly parts, 1705–1707) – bitter attack on the Whig government that led to its author being pilloried twice: at the Royal Exchange and Charing Cross
  • The Wooden World Dissected (1706) – controversial account of the Royal Navy
  • The Diverting Muse (1707)
  • The London Terraefilius (1707)
  • Mars Stript of his Armour (1708)
  • The Secret History of Clubs (1709) [reprinted as Satyrical Reflections on Clubs] – containing one of the first descriptions of homosexual clubs in London
  • Nuptial Dialogues and Debates (1710)
  • Vulgus Britannicus, or, The British Hudibras (1710)
  • Don Quixote (1711–1712)
  • The Merry Travellers (1712)
  • History of the Grand Rebellion (1713–1715)
  • The Hudibrastick Brewer (1714)
  • A Vade Mecum for Malt-Worms (1715)
  • The Delights of the Bottle (1720)
  • The Parish Guttlers (1722)

Ward's popularity waned after his death, though his The London Spy was serialised by several London and provincial newspapers in the 1730s. The New London Spy was later used as title of a book by Hunter Davies.


  1. ^ Theophilus Cibber, The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1753)
  2. ^ Howard William Troyer, Ned Ward of Grubstreet; a study of sub-literary London in the eighteenth century Cambridge, Harvard Univ. Pr. 1946
  3. ^ James Sambrook, 'Ward, Edward [Ned] (1667–1731)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  4. ^ Alison O'Byrne, "The London Spy". The Literary Encyclopedia. 8 August 2005
  5. ^ The London Spy Complete, ed. Allison Muri and Benjamin Neudorf. The Grub Street Project
  6. ^ Howard William Troyer, Ned Ward of Grubstreet; a study of sub-literary London in the eighteenth century Cambridge, Harvard Univ. Pr. 1946
  7. ^ James Sambrook, 'Ward, Edward [Ned] (1667–1731)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  8. ^ Cockayne, Emily (2007). Hubbub: Filth Noise & Stench in England. Yale University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-300-13756-9.
  9. ^ Edward Ward. The curry-comb turn'd to its right use; or, The powder-monkey to a Jamaica ship, dress'd with it.

Ned Ward, The London Spy (1703). Edited by Kenneth Fenwick (1955). The Folio Society: London.


  • Howard William Troyer: Ned Ward of Grubstreet; a Study of Sub-literary London in the Eighteenth Century. London 1946.
  • Fritz-Wilhelm Neumann: Ned Wards London. Säkularisation, Kultur und Kapitalismus um 1700, Wilhelm Fink Verlag, München, Germany 2012, ISBN 978-3-7705-4992-4.

External links

  • Works by Edward Ward at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Edward Ward at Internet Archive
  • Ned Ward, The Second Volume of the Writings of the Author of The London-Spy (1706)
  • Ned Ward, A Trip to New-England (1706)
  • Ned Ward, A Vade Mecum for Malt-Worms (1715)
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