Explore the Family Name Ward

The meaning of Ward

1. English: occupational name for a watchman or guard, from Middle English ward ‘watchman, guard’ (Old English weard, used as both an agent noun and an abstract noun). 2. English: occupational name from Middle English warde ‘armed guard’ (Old English weard ‘watching, guarding’), with the same meaning as 1 above. 3. Irish: shortened form of McWard, an Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac an Bhaird ‘son of the poet’. The surname occurs throughout Ireland, where three different branches of the family are known as professional poets. 4. Jewish (American): adoption of the English name (see above) in place of some similar (like-sounding) original Ashkenazic surname such as Warshawski or Warshawsky. 5. Altered form of French Guérin (see Guerin) and Benoît (see Benoit). History: The surname Ward was brought to North America from England independently by several different bearers in the 17th and 18th centuries. Nathaniel Ward (1578–1652), author of the MA legal code, was born in Haverhill, Suffolk, England, and emigrated to Agawam (Ipswich, MA) in 1633. William Ward was one of the original settlers of Sudbury, MA, c.1638. Miles Ward came from England to Salem, MA, c.1639. Thomas Ward (died 1689) settled in Newport, RI, in 1671; among his descendants were two governors of colonial RI.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Ward in the United States?

Based on the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname "Ward" has seen some fluctuations between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, it was ranked as the 71st most popular surname in the United States but dropped to the 79th spot by 2010, a decrease of 11.27%. Despite this drop in rank, the count of individuals with the surname actually increased during that decade from 254,121 to 260,464, marking an increase of 2.5%. However, the proportion of people named Ward per 100,000 decreased by 6.26% from 94.2 in 2000 to 88.3 in 2010.

Proportion per 100k94.288.3-6.26%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Ward

The ethnic identity associated with the surname "Ward" also saw noticeable changes between 2000 and 2010, according to data from the Decennial U.S. Census. The percentage of Wards identifying as White decreased by 2.84%, going from 77.79% in 2000 to 75.58% in 2010. On the other hand, the proportion of Wards identifying as Hispanic saw a substantial increase of 48.78%, rising from 1.64% in 2000 to 2.44% in 2010. Those identifying as Black or African American also increased slightly from 17.77% to 18.50%. Meanwhile, the percentage of people with the surname Ward who identified as Asian/Pacific Islander and those identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native also saw increases, with 22.50% and 9.64% respectively. Additionally, more people reported belonging to two or more races, with an increase of 32.48% over the decade.

Two or More Races1.57%2.08%32.48%
American Indian and Alaskan Native0.83%0.91%9.64%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.4%0.49%22.5%

Ward ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Ward is British & Irish, which comprises 56.2% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (21.2%) and Eastern European (3.8%). Additional ancestries include Scandinavian, Italian, Nigerian, Spanish & Portuguese, and Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean.

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British & Irish56.2%
French & German21.2%
Eastern European3.8%

Possible origins of the surname Ward

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Ward have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom88.20%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom88.20%
Merseyside, United Kingdom87.80%
West Midlands, United Kingdom87.70%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom87.50%

What Ward haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Ward is R-P311, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-P311 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-M467 and R-CTS241, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Smith, White, Green, Taylor, Martin, Wilson, Brown, Clark, Cooper, Thompson.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Ward surname are: T2b, H, H1. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

wardPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Ward have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Ward" Surname 44.0%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Ward" Surname 28.1%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Ward" Surname 22.6%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Ward" Surname 18.5%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Ward?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Ward are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%