Reverend J.R. Ward came to Natal in or before 1882 and was the vicar of St Mary's parsonage, Richmond, from 1886 or earlier to 1899. He was married and had at least one son, who was seeking employment by 1893. In 1899 Reverend Ward sent many natural history specimens to the newly appointed government entomologist of Natal, Claude Fuller*. In his first annual report Fuller thanked Ward for his specimens and voluminous correspondence. During the same year Ward collected specimens of Peripatus in Natal and sent them live to the South African Museum in Cape Town, where some of them were used for breeding. He also sent the museum some scorpions and spiders, and two specimens of a hunter slug (Apera natalensis, now Chlamydephorus sp.) which was new to the museum.
Around the same time Ward collected stone scrapers, flakes and a spear-head from kitchen middens along the Umzinto River south of Durban. These he presented to Henry Balfour*, curator of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. He visited Balfour at the museum around October 1900. Afterwards he received more stone tools from his friend "Mr Ryan" [almost certainly Sydney T. Ryan*], but owing to some confusion over the packaging the provenance of the artefacts is unsure. Ward wrote to Balfour in April 1902, at which time he was living in Lincolnshire and was apparently responsible for a small parish.