Born in England, Ward was born into a zealous Puritan family (his father was a minister).

Ward graduated in law from the University of Cambridge in 1603 and was admitted to the bar as a barrister. But he took to traveling and records show him as a clergyman in Elbing, Prussia (now Poland) in 1618.

In 1634, he sailed for New England and took residence in Ipswitch, Massachusetts (originally known as Agawam).

In 1638, there were few trained in the law in the new colony so he was asked by the local court to draw up a law code. In 1636, another law code called Moses, His Judicials had been presented but it was felt to insufficiently secular.

Nathaniel Ward signatureIt was at Ipswitch that, in 1641, his Book of Liberties was adopted as the first law code of New England, a book dripping with Puritan adherence to the Old testament and its harsh laws.

It was reprinted in 1648 with the title: The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes Concerning the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts.

His contemporary Thomas Lechford raised concerns with the religious content of the law code but to no avail. New England was through and through Puritan.

In about 1647, Ward sailed back to England where he took a clergyship in Shenfield, Essex, and he asked to preach before the House of Commons in London, which he did on June 30, 1647.

Ward also wanted to be on hand to supervise the publication of his new book, written under the pen name of Theodore de la Guard, and called The Simple Cobler (sic) of Aggawam.

He died in England in 1652.