One of the very early settlers in the township of Hope, was Thomas Ward, a prominent citizen of the place for more than fifty years. He was a son of Thomas Ward, senior, and was born in London, England, June 20, 1770. When Colonel, afterwards Governor-General Simcoe and Attorney-General White came out to Canada (about 1791), Mr. Ward accompanied them, and when Governor Simcoe, in search of a site for the capital, decided upon removing it from Newark (Niagara) to the old French fort Rouille, now Toronto, Mr. Ward was among the number who saw the soldiers clear away the brush and trees, and lay the foundation of “Little York,” he assisting to organize the first government of Upper Canada, and, with Attorney-General White, built one of the first dwelling houses there. The historian records that, in 1795 there were only twelve houses besides the barracks, where the city of Toronto now stands.
Mr. Ward had studied law with Attorney-General White, before coming to this country, and was made a statute lawyer, one of the first in Upper Canada, and was one of the first benchers of the Law Society of the Province.
About the close of the last century, he went to Brighton, Northumberland county, and not long afterwards settled in what is now Port Hope. Jonathan Walton and Elias Smith settled here in 1797, and Mynert Harris a little earlier.
In March, 1808, as the records show, Mr. Ward was appointed registrar of the county of Durham, and he held that office steadily until 1847, when he resigned and one of his sons succeeded him. He took the first census of New Castle District, now embracing the counties of Northumberland, Durham, Peterborough, and Victoria, and there were then forty heads of families, four yoke of oxen and one horse.
Mr. Ward was at one time Judge of the County Court, and was Judge of Surrogate when he died, February 27, 1861, being in his 92nd year. He was also clerk of the peace, at the time of his death, having held that office thirty or forty years, it being for the united counties of Northumberland and Durham. He was true in every trust.
Mr. Ward served through the war of 1812-14, holding a Captain’s commission, his company being stationed along the lake shore between Toronto and Presque Isle (Brighton). Part of the time he was paymaster for the troops.
Capt. Ward was one of the founders of St. John’s now St. Mark’s Episcopal church, Port Hope, and warden of the same for a long period. He was a liberal supporter of the church and of benevolent societies, and generous to the poor and unfortunate.
About 1806 Miss Mary Playter, of Toronto, who was born December 13, 1782, became the wife of Capt. Ward, and died February 20, 1847. She was the mother of eight children, five daughters and three sons, all now dead but one daughter and two sons, these three living in Port Hope. Sarah is the widow of John Tucker Williams, Lieutenant in the British Navy, and many years a member of the Canadian Parliament; George Charles succeeded his father in the office of registrar, and has held it for thirty-three years, being a very faithful officer. He has a wife and four children, and has lost three. Ely W., the other son, has also a family. He was an Ensign in the 3rd incorporated militia from 1837 to 1843; was in the rebellion of 1837-38, and in the battle at Navy Island, and witnessed the burning of the steamer “Caroline.” He is not in any business.