Personal and Family Life

Samuel Ward was born in Bishop Middleham, Durham, and baptized on 13 January 1572. Little is known of his mother, but John Ward, his father, was always in financial straits and died sometime after 1599. Samuel had at least four brothers and two married sisters.

He came to Cambridge as a student in 1589 in a difficult financial condition and was assisted with his debts by James Montegu and William Perkins. Montagu became a Translator of the King James Bible (hereinafter KJB), and Perkins exerted a significant spiritual influence in his life.

Another mentor was Laurence Chaderton, the master of Emmanuel College. Perkins and Chaderton were staunch Puritans, and Samuel became an ardent Puritan himself.

Though Samuel was to have church appointments outside Cambridge, he spent the rest of his life associated with the university and its colleges. Because he kept a diary, much is known of Samuel Ward's personality, motivations, and views. Those who knew him recorded their impressions of him as well. Additionally, many of his letters, writings and sermons have been preserved. Samuel did not marry until he was about fifty, and then to a widow, Martha, who brought a child into the marriage.

Toward the end of his life Samuel Ward moderated his Puritan position somewhat and was a supporter of the monarchy. Though he was Oliver Cromwell's master at Sidney Sussex College, during the Civil War, he was arrested and imprisoned at St. John's College following the capture of Cambridge by parliamentarian troops. While he was confined he became ill as a result of the dank conditions to which he was subjected. Shortly after his release from custody, he died in his apartment at Sidney Sussex College on 7 September 1643. His was the first burial in the chapel at Sidney Sussex College.


Samuel Ward first was a student at Christ's College, Cambridge in 1589. He graduated B.A. in 1593 and proceeded M.A. in 1596. Later as a fellow at Emmanuel College, he proceeded B.D. in 1603, and D.D. shortly after becoming master of Sidney Sussex College.


Samuel Ward's scholarly and academic pursuits dominated his professional life. In 1596 he was elected to a fellowship at Emmanuel College where Laurence Chaderton was his master and mentor. He distinguished himself in this position, and in 1611 he was named master of Sidney Sussex College. Sidney Sussex was Cambridge University's most Puritan leaning institution. He remained there until his death thirty-three years later.

In 1604 he was chosen as one of the KJB Translators, an assignment to which he devoted much time over a period of years.

Additionally, he served the university as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity (1623) and vice chancellor (1620-21).

His church service began with an appointment as prebendary of Yatton in Wells Cathedral (1610), royal chaplain to King James I (1611), archdeacon of Taunton and prebendary of Milverton in Wells (1615), rector of Great Munden in Hertfordshire (1616), canon of York (1618) and rector of Terrington, Norfolk (1638). These responsibilities carried with them a yearly stipend and generally required only periodic visitations. In fact, among Samuel Ward's papers is a petition to the king to be excused from the requirement of a three month stay in Wells. However, Samuel did maintain a residence at Wells for just such visits.

At Cambridge his time was taken up with biblical studies, theological scholarship, and administrative duties connected with his college, Sidney Sussex. He acquired for the school: maps, globes and scientific instruments representing the progress of knowledge during his time.

Finally, he was the king's delegate to the Synod at Dort in the Netherlands, a conclave called to resolve theological disputes between Calvinism and Arminianism in the Protestant world of the time. Calvinism with its five pillars regarding mankind and salvation: 1) Total Depravity, 2) Unconditional Election, 3) Limited Atonement, 4) Irresistible/Irrevocable Grace, and 5) Perseverance of the Saints, ie., Assured Endurance, was under attack by the followers of Jacobus Arminius and Hugo Grotius, who had a more liberal and nuanced view of determinism, free will and the nature of salvation. Samuel Ward was considered by another delegate at the Synod, Episcopius, to be "the most learned member". The Calvinistic view prevailed (the Arminians having withdrawn from the conference).

Samuel Ward and the Translation

Samuel Ward was a member of the Second Cambridge Company assigned to translate the Apocrypha. He apparently worked specifically on the Prayer of Manassas and First and Second Macabees, which comprise the Apocrypha's last three books. As a Translator he also reviewed and had input in the translation of the Bible in its entirety. His scholarly qualifications were unquestioned. An early assessment of Samuel Ward was that "he was a scholar of clear judgment and of great skill in the languages, especially in Hebrew". Thomas Fuller, who had been Ward's student at Cambridge said, comparing him to another noted professor, Ward "pierced deeper into the underground and profound points of divinity".

While at the Synod of Dort Ward shed light on how the translation was reviewed and edited. He explained that after the companies had finished their final translation, two Translators from each company (for a total of twelve) were chosen as a committee of revisers to make one of the final reviews and edits.

Bio Bits

It was Samuel Ward, who, in a plea to keep one of his parishes wrote: "I was a Translator".

Samuel Ward had a serious speech impediment which caused him to consider abandoning a career in the ministry for mathematics. Fortunately, his mentor, William Perkins persuaded him to persist. He was able to overcome this handicap and became a towering figure of his time. One of his students compared him to Moses "not only for slowness of speech" but also for "meekness of nature".

Most revealing of some of Samuel Ward's innermost thoughts as a young man come from his confessional diary in which he daily inventoried his shortcomings and successes. A few entries follow:

June 9, 1595. Think how good a man Mr. Chadderton is, who hath such a living affection to the poor, which is a certain token of a sound Christian. July 15, 1595… My incontinent thoughts at Hobson's. My over-great mirth as we went to Hynton. … Oct. 3, 1595… My immoderate eating of walnuts and cheese after supper, whereby I did distemper my body…. Aug. 8, 1596. Also my longing after damsens [small plums] when I made my vow not to eat in the orchard. Oh, that I could so long after God's graces. Aug. 19, 1597… My want of grief and sorrow in respect to the plague now raging so much in our Country. My proud thoughtes in that I had prayed in some good sort. Aug. 20, 1597.. My negligence in praying the whole day for my distressed countrymen, who now were grieved with the plague. O Lord, grant from thence it be not dispersed in to the South parts. May 27, 1598.. Consider how, when you serve God most diligently, you prosper best in thy studies, and let this move thee more diligently to serve God, yea consider when thou serves God how all things prosper well.. Aug. 30, 1601.. Remember how when thou heard Mr. Perkins preach on the dignity of God's children, and of the manifold comforts issuing from thence, thou had good actions and affections in thy mind. Oh, bethink thy self on the great comfort that comes to a man by God's service. How this will breed true contentment of mind. Above all things learn humility. Pity men when thou seest them run with full stream into sin, bewail their case, exult not over them. Seek by all gentle means to reclaim them, use not rough words to provoke any man. Be always lifting up thy heart to God in all occurrences, in all troubles, in prosperity, in adversity, never rejoice to much in any worldly thing.