WARD (Dr. Seth)

, an English prelate, chiefly famous for his knowledge in mathematics and astronomy, was the son of an attorney, and born at Buntingford, Hertfordshire, in 1617 or 1618. From hence he was removed and placed a student in Sidney college, Cambridge, in 1632. Here he applied with great vigour to his studies, particularly to the mathematics, and was chosen fellow of his college. In 1640 he was pitched upon by the Vice chancellor to be Prævaricator, which at Oxford is called Terræ-filius; whose office it was to make a witty speech, and to laugh at any thing or any body: a privilege which he exercised so freely, that the Vice-chancellor actually suspended him from his degree; though he reversed the censure the day following.

The civil war breaking out, Ward was involved not a little in the consequences of it. He was ejected from his fellowship for refusing the Covenant; against which he soon after joined with several others, in drawing up that noted treatise, which was afterwards printed. Being now obliged to leave Cambridge, he resided for some time with certain friends about London, and at other times at Aldbury in Surry, with the noted mathematician Oughtred, where he prosecuted his mathematical studies. He afterwards lived for the most part, till 1649, with Mr. Ralph Freeman at Aspenden in Hertfordshire, whose sons he instructed as their preceptor; after which he resided some months with lord Wenman, of Thame Park, in Oxfordshire.

He had not been long in this family before the visitation of the university of Oxford began; the effect of which was, that many learned and eminent persons were turned out, and among them Mr. Greaves, the Savilian professor of Astronomy: this gentleman laboured to procure Ward for his successor, whose abilities in his way were universally known and acknowledged; and effected it; Dr. Wallis succeeding to the Geometry professorship at the same time. Mr. Ward then entered himself of Wadham college, for the sake of | Dr. Wilkins, who was the warden; and he presently applied himself to bring the astronomy lectures, which had long been neglected and disused, into repute again; and for this purpose he read them very constantly, never missing one reading day, all the while he held the lecture.

In 1654, both the Savilian prosessors did their exercises, in order to proceed doctors in divinity; and when they were to be presented, Wallis claimed precedency. This occasioned a dispute; which being decided in favour of Ward, who was really the senior, Wallis went out grand compounder, and so obtained the precedency. In 1659, Ward was chosen president of Trinity college; but was obliged at the Restoration to resign that place. He had amends made him, however, by being presented in 1660 to the rectory of St. Laurence Jewry. The same year he was also installed precentor of the church of Exeter. In 1661 he became fellow of the Royal Society, and dean of Exeter; and the year following he was advanced to the bishopric of the same church. In 1667 he was translated to the see of Salisbury; and in 1671 was made chancellor of the order of the garter; an honour which he procured to be permanently annexed to the see of Salisbury, after it had been held by laymen for above 150 years.

Dr. Ward was one of those unhappy persons who have the misfortune to survive their senses, which happened in consequence of a fever ill cured: he lived till the Revolution, but without knowing any thing of the matter; and died in January 1689, about 71 years of age. He was the author of several Latin works in astronomy and different parts of the mathematics, which were thought excellent in their day; but their use has been superseded by later improvements and the Newtonian philosophy. Some of these were,

1. A Philosophical Essay towards an Eviction of the Being and Attributes of God, &c. 1652.

2. De Cometis, &c; 4to, 1653.

3. In Ismaelis Bullialdi Astronomia Inquisitio; 4to, 1653.

4. Idea Trigonometriæ demonstratæ; 4to, 1654.

5. Astronomia Geometrica; 8vo, 1656. In this work, a method is proposed, by which the astronomy of the planets is geometrically resolved, either upon the Elliptical or Circular motion; it being in the third or last part of this work that he proposes and explains what is called Ward's Circular Hypothesis.

6. Exercitatio epistolica in Thomæ Hobbii Philosophiam, ad D. Joannem Wilkins; 1656, 8vo.

But that by which he hath chiefly signalized himself, as to astronomical invention, is his celebrated approximation to the true place of a planet, from a given mean anomaly, founded upon an hypothesis, that the motion of a planet, though it be really performed in an elliptic orbit, may yet be considered as equable as to angular velocity, or with an uniform circular motion round the upper focus of the ellipse, or that next the aphelion, as a centre. By this means he rendered the praxis of calculation much easier than any that could be used in resolving what has been commonly called Kepler's problem, in which the coequate anomaly was to be immediately investigated from the mean elliptic one. His hypothesis agrees very well with those orbits which are elliptical but in a very small degree, as that of the Earth and Venus: but in others, that are more elliptical, as those of Mercury, Mars, &c, this approximation stood in need of a correction, which was made by Bulliald. Both the method, and the correction, are very well explained and demonstrated, by Keill, in his Astronomy, lecture 24.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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WALLIS (Dr. John)
* WARD (Dr. Seth)