City of London School for Girls was founded by William Ward (1797-1881) of Brixton, a successful manufacturer. The Ward family were originally from Norfolk and William was one of eleven children. He was baptised at St Giles Church, Cripplegate, next to which the current school is built. William married Ann Berry in April 1820, and also became a Freeman of the City of London that year.
William was in partnership with his younger brother John, as manufacturers of Paris and Roman cement and dealers in firebrick in Aldersgate. His younger brother James, eventually took over this business, while William was established at Honduras Wharf, Bankside, as a coal merchant and wharfinger and importer of firebricks and tiles.
William and Ann lived in Brixton, with no record of children. William’s parents died within months of each other in 1860, and he inherited £1,400 under his father’s will. William was a prosperous business man, and lived until the age of 84, leaving a considerable number of gifts to charitable and philanthropic institutions including:
- Royal Hospital for Incurables at Putney Heath
- Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Female Mission to the Fallen Women of London
Ward bequeathed £20,000 to the City of London upon his death in 1881, in order to build and maintain a high school for girls. Ward's City of London School for Girls Act, an act of parliament, received the Royal Assent in 1885, and the school was officially opened in 1894.