1812–82, English Roman Catholic apologist, educated at Oxford. He became (1834) a fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and was ordained in the Church of England. At first a Broad Churchman, he joined the Oxford movement in 1838. Thereafter he became the most extreme of his group, and as a result of his vigorous support of Tract 90 he lost his teaching positions in the university. His long work, The Ideal of a Christian Church (1844), which compared all churches in England unfavorably with the Roman Catholic Church, brought his official degradation from his university degrees (1854); he was soon afterward received into the Roman Catholic Church, where he remained a layman. Ward was lecturer in moral theology in St. Edmund's College, Ware, from 1851 to 1858. From 1863 to 1878 he edited the Dublin Review. He was uncompromising in his religious views, especially with respect to Ultramontanism. He was an eager and hasty controversialist, and his metaphysical subtlety made him a formidable opponent. Ward's friends included men of very divergent opinions.
His son Wilfrid Philip Ward, 1856–1916, was his father's biographer (1893). He also wrote a biography of Cardinal Newman and accounts of Cardinal Wiseman and Aubrey de Vere. Wilfrid Philip Ward, like his father, opposed liberalism in the church but, unlike him, took a more conciliatory position, notably in the modernist controversy. He edited the Dublin Review from 1906. William George Ward's third son, Bernard Nicholas Ward, 1857–1920, was a distinguished churchman; he was president of St. Edmund's College, Ware, and first bishop of Brentwood. He wrote on the history of the Roman Catholic Church in England.
- See The Wilfrid Wards and the Transition (2 vol., 1934–37). ,