Story: Ward, Anne

Page 1 - Ward, Anne

Ward, Anne

1825/1826?–1896

Temperance leader, welfare worker

This biography was written by Megan Hutching and was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand BiographyVolume 2, 1993

Anne Titboald was born, probably in 1825 or 1826, at Exeter, Devonshire, England, the daughter of Thomas Titboald; her mother's name is not known. She arrived on the Cordelia at Wellington, New Zealand, on 29 September 1854 with her lawyer husband, Charles Dudley Robert Ward (known as Dudley). They had married in Rotherhithe, Surrey, on 26 January 1850. The couple appear to have had no children.

Little is known of Anne Ward's early years in New Zealand. The couple probably lived in Wellington from the time of their arrival until 1868. Dudley Ward was elected MHR for Wellington Country district in 1855, and appointed chairman of the Courts of Sessions of the Peace for part of the province of Wellington in 1857. In September 1868 he was appointed temporary judge of the Supreme Court in Dunedin and it is likely that Anne Ward accompanied her husband there. In 1886 Dudley Ward was appointed to the same position in Auckland, a position he also held in Christchurch in 1887 and Dunedin again in 1894.

Anne Ward, or Mrs Dudley Ward as she was more commonly referred to, was the first national president of the New Zealand Women's Christian Temperance Union. The WCTU was established in New Zealand in 1885 by Mary Leavitt, an organiser from the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of the United States of America, who encouraged Ward to take a leadership role. Between September 1885 and January 1886 Ward travelled through the country delivering lectures on temperance and the work of the WCTU and established branches of the union in Wellington, Nelson, New Plymouth, Patea, Hawera, Wanganui and Ashburton.

The fundamental aim of the WCTU was to achieve prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol. As a means to this end, the union supported the goal of women's suffrage. It was felt that if women were involved in political decision-making, liquor laws were more likely to be changed. At the first annual convention of the WCTU in Wellington in February 1886, over which Anne Ward presided, a paper on votes for women was presented and delegates resolved that 'the union endeavour to obtain women's suffrage'. A franchise and legal department was established to promote this reform. At the same convention Ward was elected president and became superintendent of the evangelistic department, as well as being made organising agent for the union. At a public meeting during the convention she made a 'powerful appeal to any of her hearers who might happen to be moderate drinkers, to give up the habit.' She also gave details of the work that the union was doing in New Zealand, which included visiting gaols and poor people, conducting Bible classes, and work among 'fallen women'.

Anne Ward's motivation for becoming a member of the temperance movement was religious. When she first became involved with the WCTU in Wellington someone reminded her of her public position as a judge's wife, to which she replied that her position was that of a servant of Christ. On another occasion, at a meeting in Wellington in 1886, she spoke on the influence of alcohol on crime, asserting that it was 'useless to combat the drink evil without the assistance of Christ.'

The WCTU was keen to establish temperance kindergartens for children, aged from two to five years, of working mothers. At the annual convention in Christchurch in 1887 Ward spoke of the need for such a kindergarten in Auckland. She proposed engaging a teacher, who was to be paid £100 a year from money raised by 10s. subscriptions paid by members of the public. The Jubilee Kindergarten and Crèche was founded in Auckland in 1887, very much as a result of Ward's determination. By the following year an average of 90 children a day were being fed a hot meal, six days a week. It was handsomely supported by James Dilworth, who made an annual donation of £100. By the end of its first year of operation the kindergarten, which was run by a committee of women, employed four teachers as well as a matron.

In 1887 Anne Ward resigned as national president of the WCTU; her health had not been good for many years. She died on 31 May 1896 aged 70, at her home in Christchurch. Dudley Ward died on 30 August 1913. One obituary praised her for 'the interest she took in the welfare of the poor and in religious matters.' But possibly her most notable achievement was to establish, almost single-handedly, a national organisation which would spearhead significant social and political reforms.