WARD, Joshua (1685-1761).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1715 - 13 May 1717

Family and Education

b. 1685, bro. of John Ward (d.1755).

Offices Held


Ward was returned for Marlborough in 1715 by one of two rival mayors, who obtained possession of the precept and affixed Ward’s return to it, though no one had voted for him. Classed as a Whig, he voted against the septennial bill before being unseated on petition, the elections committee reporting that ‘Mr. Ward not appearing nor any counsel for him the Committee were not informed upon what pretence he was chosen’.1 In 1725 he was a co-defendant with his brother in a suit brought by the Duchess of Buckingham over some alum works which they had leased from her late husband,2 but he was not involved in the subsequent proceedings against John Ward for forgery. After some years in France, where he practised with great success as a quack doctor, he returned in 1734 to England where he made a fortune out of Ward’s Pill, a reputed panacea consisting largely of antimony, which purged, sweated, and vomited all at once. The 1st Lord Egmont gives the following picture of his consulting room in 1735:

I went this morning to see Mr. Ward, who does such famous cures with his drop, pill and powder. His rooms were all full of poor people, with a few of better sort, who came to be cured of blindness, deafness, cancers, king’s evil, and other disorders wherein the physicians could not help them. I talked with several persons who had been a long time blind, but by his means had in a great measure recovered their sight, and one lady told me she had the palsy that took away her speech for seven years, and it had cost her 200 guineas to five doctors, who successively treated her in vain, among whom were Sir Hans Sloane and Dr. Jurin, but in taking Mr. Ward’s medicine 14 times she was perfectly cured, as I might see by her telling me her story.
Afterwards Sir Edward Lawrence told me of his own knowledge that a gentleman who had been several years blind now sees by the help of Mr. Ward as well as ever. Some who were born deaf and dumb have been made by him both to hear and to speak.3

Ward died 21 Nov. 1761, bequeathing the secret of his pill to his friend and admirer, John Page, but its efficacy expired with its owner.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. CJ, xviii. 481, 547.
  • 2. LJ, xxii. 513b.
  • 3. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 152.