John Sebastian Marlow
Ward was born in Belize,
British Honduras, on 22 December 1885 and clearly the service of God was in his blood, for
both his father and grandfather were priests within the Anglican Church
His grandfather, the
Reverend Horatio James Ward, (called “Old Horatio” in Gone West) had been vicar of Morville in Shropshire and
was also headmaster of Bridgnorth Grammar
School. His father, the Reverend Herbert Marlow Ward was a staunch Anglo-Catholic, though unlike
Cardinal Newman he never went over to Rome. e ha He had married Alice Carver in
and when their first son, John was born, they were in Belize City, the capital of what
is now Belize in Central America, where
his father was at that time a missionary attached to the Church of St. Mary, Belize City. Herbert Ward then became Rector
of that church from 1886 to 1888, after which he returned to England and
was appointed Rector of the Church of St. Andrew,
Fulham, until 1893 when he became diocesan Inspector of Leicestershire and Rutland.
He moved back to Fulham in 1895 then to Wath-on-Dearne in 1897. He remained there for twelve years and then moved to London, to St. Mary the Virgin Church
Thus it was that John
and his younger brother Reginald, grew up in and near London
where the two boys attended the Merchant Taylor’s School. Although three years apart in age, the brothers were close;
Reginald was rather plump, whilst Ward himself was always tall and relatively slim. Within the family John was always known
as "Jack" and Reginald as "Rex", but in this article, we will continue to call John Ward, "John", the name by which he was
known to the world.
John had extremely
poor eyesight and wore thick glasses from about six years of age and when he first started wearing them he found them very
strange. After leaving the optometrist’s wearing them for the first time his father proposed to send John home alone
on the bus and gave him a half-penny for the bus-fare home. “Oh, father,” John apparently said, “the fare
is ha’pence and you have only given me a farthing”. Not until his father had shown him what a farthing now looked
like, did he begin to realise that his new glasses made everything look small.
As the family followed
the Reverend Herbert Ward from post to post, John Ward’s childhood was a little unsettled, but nevertheless happy. Later, he was to write of his father,
`Truth to tell, the author learnt the foundations of his faith from a most excellent father, a clergyman of the Church of
England, who saw to it that he understood what the church stood for without leaning too much to any extreme part." (The
Psychic Powers of Christ- Prologue, p. 7)..
From the Merchant
Taylor’s School John gained an Open Scholarship to Trinity Hall Cambridge and went up in 1905 to read History. He gained
his BA in 1908, graduating with honours and majoring in History. He was granted an MA in February 1925, by which time he was
also a Fellow of the Royal Economic Society (F.R.E.S.) and Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. (F.R.S.S.)
Three months after
going down from Cambridge on 18 December 1908, he was married by his father in Weybridge Parish Church
to Eleanor Caroline Lanchester, or 'Carrie' as he called her. She was his second cousin and several years older than he and
they had one child, a daughter, born in October 1909 (Gone West, p. 24), whom they named Blanche.
From 1908 to 1914
Ward lived a simple family life as a teacher in English secondary schools and also lectured in Cambridge, but the latter year
marked the end of his youth and the beginning of his real Quest. Two major life-shaping changes occurred during that year
- his twenty-ninth. The first came early in the year, when his uncle Henry Jones Lanchester, (H.J.L.) died, and soon afterwards
contacted Ward from the Afterlife. This was Ward’s first intimation that he was mediumistic and the resulting communications
showed him that the rather vague teachings about life after death, which is all that his traditional Anglicanism provided,
were very far from accurate. The second incident came late in the year, shortly after the outbreak of World
War I, when Ward was appointed headmaster of the Anglican Diocesan
High School in Rangoon, Burma
and it was whilst in the Far East that Ward began to understand the idea of reincarnation.
Together these two
discoveries were sufficient to start him on a life-long quest that became his personal voyage of discovery .
In 1934 when Ward finally told his father about his belif in reincarnation,
he was astonished to receive the reply 'My Boy, I have known it for a long time" (Father Peter's Diaries)
She had a serious illness in 1932 which left
her paralysed down one side. Ward later is said to have described her as `a bitter atheist' (Evening News - 10 May
1945, p. 4)
Although Anglicanism is a broad Church and individuals express different views, its Thirty-Nine Articles include
one that specifically condemns the "Popish Doctrine of Purgatrory" and officially at least, it believes that after death we
pass to either Heaven or Hell, without the possibiity of any intermediate state. Ward found this to be manifestly incorrect.