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Ward family - generation two:

my paternal grandfather

Frank Ward (1880-1975)

frank as a lad

this is the only photo we have of Frank as a lad

Frank was born on 18 jun 1880 in Bedminster at 21 Centre Redcliff Crescent.  According to the birth certificate – his father was John Ward, commercial traveller, mother Mary Ward, formerly Kent of 21 Centre Redcliff Cres, Bedminster,  (source Birth Certificate) however, the 1881 census seems to confirm the family’s belief that he was actually illegitimate – as while baby Frank was  living with the Grainger family as a ‘Nurse child’ (this is usually a child who is informally fostered out to a family, but is not necessarily illegitimate), his mother Mary Ann Kent was living with her married sister in Bedminster (two doors away from the address recorded on Frank's birth certificate) and was once again a single woman.    


One story Frank told to his family was that he was the illegitimate son of a famous Jewish doctor from London, possibly named Hunter, and a nurse (who had the baby in Bristol to avoid any scandal). Another story was that he was given the surname Ward because he was looked after in an orphanage.  He also told his family that at some point he lived with a family called Fry, who had a daughter Marion.  There was indeed a Marion Fry living in Bedminster in the 1891 census - she was aged just one year and the second child of Frederick Fry and his wife Eliza.  Frederick was a railway guard for the Great Western Railway.  Decades later, Frank apparently met Marion Fry on the beach in Polzeath, Cornwall. There was also a story that his real father was in the Metropolitan Police, and that he sat in on Frank's interviews when he joined the force (and kept an eye on his progress).


Frank seems to have lived with the Grainger family for at least twenty years, and from census entries he became part of the family as in both 1891 and 1901 census he is described as Ann Grainger's son, with no mention of his surname being Ward.  Ann Grainger died on 19 apr 1902 in Bristol Workhouse at Stapleton.  She was aged 73, the widow of Charles Grainger, coal miner of Bedminster, of Cerebral softening.  The death was reported by her son Thomas Grainger of Glasgow House, Pearl St, Bedminster (source Death Certificate)


In 1892, Frank had obtained a copy of his birth certificate, under the 1891 Factory and Workshop Act.  On the request, he stated his father’s name was John Ward, but left the mother’s name blank, so it seems he had been given minimal information about the circumstances of his birth.   (sources original short copy of birth certificate, issued 9 sep 1892 and accompanying request form, plus full birth certificate from GRO).


According to his son, Frank worked at a number of jobs in Bristol, including in a brewery and an iron smelterhouse.  In around 1901 he went to London (he told his family that he walked there!) where he worked for Isaac Snary a gas fitter (Isaac was Rhoda's uncle).






















Frank's police records (source MEPO 4 National Archives) state that his initial examination took place on 1 nov 1904 when he was aged 24 yrs.  His residence at the time was 38 Willow Grove, Plaistow and he was married with one child.  His previous employer was Mr Snary also of 38 Willow Grove and he was a labourer.  He was 5’9” tall, 12st 6lbs, chest 37”, complexion fresh, eyes brown, hair brown, no particular marks.  He was appointed to S Division on 30 Jan 1905 and his service number was 91455.


In 1906, when their second child Helen was born, Frank and Rhoda were living in Ampthill Square, just north of the Euston Road, and in 1909 the twins Harry and Elsie's births were registered in Pancras.  But by 1911 they had moved to Hampstead.


When he transferred to Hampstead Police Station, he was one of the first policemen to patrol with a woman police officer.  In August 1916, he was awarded a Certificate by the Royal Humane Society, for rescuing a man (Cecil Bangs) from drowning in the sea at Hove.  But then Frank's world came tumbling down.  He was one of a number of police officers who were discharged from the Force for joining in the (illegal) police strike in 1918. His date of dismissal was 2 aug 1919. This left him and the family in severe financial difficulties – the Secretary General of the Police Union wrote to him in 1920, sympathising with his plight, and from the tone of the letter it is clear that Frank was greatly respected for his principles.  


Subsequently he found work as an insurance agent and as a debt collector, then as a commissionaire, and was a well known and popular figure in Hampstead.  Throughout his life, Frank was involved in local politics and was a lifelong Socialist and Trade Union supporter - my dad recalled travelling by tram to Hyde Park Corner with his father where Frank rallied support for strikers at Speakers Corner. At some point, he stood as a Labour Councillor in Hampstead.  An interesting article about him, entitled ‘Frank Ward, the laughing policeman 1880-1975’ by Eric George, was published in the Camden History Review, 6, 1978


The family lived at 9 Back Lane in Hampstead* from around 1913 until Frank's death in 1975.  The Ward children spent their summer holidays staying with their Bristol relatives, often visiting Weston-super-Mare.  Some years the family spent a week hop-picking in Kent, and my father also remembered working gathering in the harvest as an older child - perhaps in the West country near Bristol.  In later years, the family kept a caravan on a farm near Chenies in Hertfordshire - I remember visiting a number of times - walking to the farmhouse to buy milk and eggs with my cousin Barbara, and the walk through a spinney to the pub in the village (and the smell of Elsan in the toilet hut next to the van!)


*9 Back Lane is now a very desirable terraced cottage in the heart of fashionable Hampstead - but when the Wards were living there it was a crowded house, with just a bathtub (not plumbed in - it had to be filled with buckets of hot water) in the kitchen and only an outside WC.  Frank rented the house from the council and although at one point he was offered the opportunity to buy it as a sitting tenant at a ridiculously cheap price; despite the fact that sons Harry and Len had offered to PAY for it! - Frank absolutely refused to even consider the idea, saying he "wouldn't think of buying this run-down pile of bricks for love nor money".


Frank died on 28 jul 1975 at his home in Hampstead at the age of 95, shortly after discharging himself from the Royal Free Hospital and walking home - having declared that he "wasn't going to die in the workhouse" (even though the hospital had long moved from the former workhouse building!)  The local newspaper published an obituary, headed ‘Grand Old Man of Hampstead’.  In his will, he wrote a very touching ‘thank you’ to his family for their care and devotion. The death certificate recorded Frank's occupation as ‘commissionaire (retired)’ and the cause of death was bronchopneumonia, carcinomatosis, carcinoma of gall bladder.  The death was reported by his son Harry.  (source death certificate).


Frank and Rhoda Ward's children:

  • Frank Ward (b. 12 mar 1904 in Bedminster) At the time of the birth of their first child, Frank was a railway platelayer in Bedminster.  However the family must have moved to London very soon after Frank's birth.  Frank married Maggie Wytch in 1926 and they had four daughters. Frank died in Torbay, Devon, in 1977

  • Helen Ward (b. 25 nov 1906 at 26 Ampthill Square). On his daughter's birth certificate, Frank proudly recorded his occupation as Metropolitan Police Constable no. 242 S Division. By the time Helen's birth was registered in early January 1907, the family had moved to 145 Hampstead Rd.  I think Helen must have always been a sickly child, as she died age five years from 'Jacksonian Epilepsy 1 day, Cerebral irritation on right side' at her aunt Ellen Taylor's (Rhoda's sister) home in Bedminster in feb 1912  (source Death Certificate) In the 1911 census, Helen had been living at the home of another Bristol aunt - that of Harry and Alice Shellard.  Little Helen does not seem to have been spoken of in the family at all - my father did not know about her, nor did another cousin: her memorial card was sent to me by a more distant Snary cousin whose grandparents lived in Bedminster at the time of Helen's death.

  • Harry Ward (b. 18 jan 1909) never married.  He worked for the Medical Research Council at their laboratories in Holly Hill in Hampstead.  He was awarded the MBE in recognition of 50 years contribution to medical research following  his retirement.  After their father's death, Harry and his sister Beattie bought a bungalow in St Teach in Cornwall, where they lived happily for many years. Harry died in Cornwall in august 1989 aged 80 years.

  • Elsie Ward (b. 18 jan 1909) - Harry's twin.  Elsie married Dick Allen, a train driver (he worked on the Flying Scotsman!) and they had four children: Rosemary (who died age 5), Richard, Barbara and Leslie.

  • Leonard Ward (b. 4 sep 1913) married Mary Susan Green in 1940.  They lived in Finchley all Len's working life, then moved to St Kew Highway in Cornwall as soon as he retired. Len died in 2007 aged 94 (see previous generation).

  • Alice Ward (born 1916) married Ernest Worrell in 1947 in Grimsby and they had two sons and four daughters.  Alice died in 2008 aged 93.

  • Beattie Ward (b. 8 jan 1919) never married, but lived a very happy life in both Hampstead and later in Cornwall with her brother Harry.  Beattie died in Jan 1997 aged 78, at a Nursing Home in Bodmin.

Much to Frank Ward senior's dismay, not one of his and Rhoda's three sons went on to produce a son "to carry on the WARD surname", as Frank frequently complained!


wards at wedding
helen ward memorial Medium Web view
harry ward on bike
mastelfamily banner 1

Mastel Family History

Mastel Family History

Frank Ward  in the census:


In 1881, at Bleeching Yard, Bedminster:

Charles Grainger, head, 52, gen labourer, b. Long Ashton, Somerset

Ann Grainger, wife, 54, b. Tickenham, Somerset

Louise Granger, 16, unm, granddau, ironer, b. Long Ashton, Somerset

Frank Ward, 9 m, nurse child, b. Bedminster


in 1891, at 18 Greenbank Rd, Bedminster:

Ann Grainger, head, 65, wid, b. Tickenham, somerset

Frank Grainger, son, 10, b. Bristol


in 1901, at 12 Greenbank Rd, Bedminster - lodgers in hh of Andrew and Emily Perkis:

Anne Granger, lodger, wid, 75, b. Bristol

Frank Granger, lodger, son, 21, stationary Engine Fireman, b. Bristol

Frank and Rhoda's family in the census

in 1911, living at 5 Perrins Court (in three rooms), Hampstead were:

Frank Ward, head, 30, police constable, b. Bristol

Rhoda Ward, wife, 29, b. Bristol

Frank Ward, son, 7, b. Bristol

Harry Ward, son,, 2, b. St Pancras

Elsie Ward, dau, 2, b. St Pancras

Eliza Snary, mother-in-law, , 56, wid, Matron (Met Police), b. Bristol

Reginald Snary, br-in-law, 13, b. Bristol


The couple had been married eight years and had four children (all living)

Their eldest daughter, Helen, was living with her aunt and uncle in Windmill Hill, Bristol in 1911:

Harry Shellard, head, 32, mar 9 years, chocolate moulder, b. Bristol

Alice Eliza Shellard, 35, wife, no children, b. Bristol

John Shellard, father, 66 widower, engine smith, b. Hanham, Gloucs

Nelly Ward, neice, 4, b. Camden Town, London

in the 1921 census, at 9 Back Lane:

Frank Ward, 41, Police Striker, b. Bedminster

Rhoda Emma Ward, 40, b. Bedminster

Frank Ward, 17, son, plumbers made, b. Bedminster

Elsie Ward, 12, school, b. St Pancras

Harry Ward, 12, school, b. St Pancras

Leonard Ward, 7, school, b. Hampstead

Alice Ward, 4, school, b. Hampstead

Beatrice Ward, 2, b. Hampstead


In the 1939 Register, living at 9 Back Lane, Hampstead, were:

Frank Ward, b.1880, Commissionaire for Motor Dealer

Rhoda E Ward, b. 1881, domestic duties

Harry Ward, b.1909, lab asst, Medical Research

Leonard Ward, b. 1913, lab asst, Medical Research

Beatrice Ward, b. 1919, factory hand, food caterers

plus one closed record (probably Alice)

frank ward RHS cert thumb
frank ward and rhoda
frank & rhoda at weston
frank and rhoda portrait
frank & rhoda ward in hampstead
9 back lane

Frank married Rhoda Snary in  Bristol on 9 sep 1903 at St Lukes Church in Bedminster, Frank was a bachelor aged 23 and Rhoda Emma was a spinster aged 22.  Frank’s occupation was given as Hawker and both were living at 97 King Street.  Frank’s father was named as John Ward, commercial traveller (deceased) and Rhoda’s father as Henry Snary, Steward.  The witnesses were Harry Millard and Alice Snary. (source Marriage Certificate)


Then, some time after his marriage to Rhoda in 1903 and the birth of their first child Frank junior in Bedminster in 1904, the family moved to London, where they lived for a short time with Rhoda's uncle in Plaistow.  In late 1904 Frank joined the police force, where he was stationed in Albany St, Regents Park.


The photo on the left shows Frank and Rhoda some time after their marriage (Rhoda is wearing a ring!) and may have been taken to celebrate the occasion (click to enlarge)

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