The English surname Ward dates back to Anglo-Saxon Britain before the Norman Conquest in 1066. In the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary the word warda meant a guard or a watchman. The early records therefore identified such individuals accordingly and eventually this designation grew into a hereditary surname.
In 1176 William de la Warda was entered in records in Leicestershire while in 1194 the Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire lists a William Warde. In 1279 we find a listing of a Simon le Warde in Warwickshire.
Although the name is very common in England it is also prevalent in some parts of Ireland. One might think that the name was introduced into Ireland by English settlers. In some instances this is true. In County Down, many Wards are descended from Englishmen. In Donegal and Galway, however, the name is of true Irish origin being and anglicized form of Mac and Bhaird, meaning “son of the bard.
The Irish Wards were professional and hereditary bards who were attached to the O'Donnells of Tirconnel (Donegal) and the O'Kellys of Ui Maine.
American records indicate that Andrew Ward, of Suffolk County in England, settled in Fairfield, Connecticut in 1630. His father, Sir Richard Ward was a direct descendant of Osbert de Varde of Givendale. Irish and English Wards have settled in the United States to such and extent that in 1956 the name ranked as the 60th most common name in a government survey.
(retyped from a newspaper article)