The Descendants of Seth Ward

Sheffield's heirs and the families they joined

Seth Ward's Original Patent

The original 60 acre patent included "Powhatan's Tree" as the northern boundary marker. Today Deep Bottom Park is on the original property.


My great9-grandfather, Seth Ward, immigrated to Virginia around 1630 and settled on the north bank of the James River at what is today Deep Bottom Park, near Varina, in Henrico County. This website is dedicated to his descendants and the families with whom the Wards intermarried.

Genealogists have not been able to determine Seth Ward's parentage with any certainty. Nor is it known exactly when Seth Ward arrived in Virginia, but in 1634 he received a patent for 60 acres, which means he would have had to have settled on the James at least by 1631 given the three year residency requirement to qualify for a patent. My best guess as to my great-grandfather's parents (based on a will found in Abbington, Cambridgeshire, England) is that they were John Warde and Isabelle Bruster and that his grandfather was also named Seth Warde. There is, however, no definitive proof.

There is no evidence Seth Ward was an indentured servant and the circumstances of his early years in Virginia suggest that he either came on his own "adventure" or that he was a representative of a London merchant who decided to settle in Virgina.

By the second generation, the Ward family was part of the gentry who ruled Virginia through control of political offices such as Justice, Sheriff, Tobacco Inspector, Surveyor, County Clerk, and Delegate to the House of Burgesses, all positions held by Seth Ward's heirs. Included in our family tree are all the great names of Virginia history from Pocahontas to Jefferson. Among my ancestors are eight presidents, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a Senator, members of the House of representatives, the first Attorney General of the United States, and many others of considerable accomplishment.

I have chosen to include everyone related to me either by blood or marriage in order to better grasp the social context in which my family was embedded. In many ways the history of the United States is reflected in the history of my family. The Wards begin to colonize the Carolinas in the early 18th Century, and after losing the family plantation in the 1790s the Wards move across the continent, pausing in Lynchburg, Nashville, and Texas before reaching California in the early 20th Century. If you are interested in reading about the Ward family in more depth, I am writing a social history that I would be happy to share. I am Dana Ward, Professor Emeritus, Pitzer College and can be reached via my college email address.


Seth Ward's son, Richard Ward, moved the family across the James to Sheffield in 1662, where five generations of "Seth Wards" were subsequently raised. Today "Drewy's Bluff", a Civil War monument, stands on what had been the Seth Ward family plantation. Sheffield was at the very top of the map at the curve in the James, ending at Falling Creek (beyond the map's top edge). Click on the map to enlarge it.