Wolverhampton BTW

Emily Elizabeth Ward

Ward, Emily Elizabeth (Lady) née Swinburne, 1798—1882

by Benjamin Colbert

Emily Elizabeth Swinburne was the daughter of Sir John Edward Swinburne, sixth baronet (1762-1860), and Emilia Elizabeth Swinburne, née Bennet (d. 1839). She was aunt to the poet Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909; ODNB). Emily Swinburne grew up at the Swinburne seat, Capheaton, in Northumberland, where she gained proficiency in drawing and painting under the tutelage of William Mulready (1786-1863; ODNB).

She married Sir Henry George Ward on 8 April 1824 while he was between diplomatic appointments to Mexico. After he was made chargé d’affaires, they sailed together for Mexico on 8 January 1825 aboard HMS Egeria. By then, Emily Ward was pregnant and heavily so a month later when they arrived at Vera Cruz. During a fifteen-day overland journey to the capital she was carried on a litter. From September 1826, Emily Ward and her children (a second daughter was born around June 1826) accompanied Henry Ward on a series of journeys to inspect mines around the country, covering some 2,000 miles. Emily Ward recorded the tour with sketches and drawings, later published as illustrations to her husband’s Mexico in 1827 (1828), and under her own name in Six Views of the Most Important Towns, and Mining Districts, upon the Table Land of Mexico (1829). She published some further drawings without letterpress as Views of Jalapa Guadalaxara, Tlalpuxahua, and other parts of Mexico (1829).

The Wards returned to England in April 1827 by way of New York, Emily Ward by this time expecting her third child, which was born at sea 10 days out of Portsmouth. Back in England, the family resided at an estate in Much Haden owned by Henry Ward’s father. Emily Ward had seven more children here while her husband developed a political career. In 1849, their travels recommenced when Henry Ward became Lord High Commissioner for the Ionian Islands, followed by an appointment as Governor of Ceylon in 1855, and Madras in 1860. After Henry Ward contracted cholera and died at Madras the same year, the now widowed Emily Ward returned to England once more.

Lady Ward was granted an apartment at Hampton Court where she remained for the remainder of her life. She died in 1882 at the age of 84.


Marquis of Ruvigny and Raineval. The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal: The Mortimer-Percy Volume. 1911. Facs. Repr. Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 2013. Print.

Seymour, A. A. D. 'Ward, Sir Henry George (1797–1860), politician and colonial governor'. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 3 Jan. 2008. Oxford University Press. Web. 6 Mar. 2018. https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/28685

Von Winning, Jean B. ‘Empire Artist: Swinburne’s Aunt Emily’. Country Life 176 (25 Oct. 1984): 1217-18. Print.

Ward, Sir Henry G. Mexico in 1827. 2 vols. London: Henry Colburn, 1828. Print.


Title Published
Six Views of the Most Important Towns, and Mining Districts, upon the Table Land of Mexico 1829

[see updates]