After studying at the university of Prague he travelled through Europe, and among other countries he visited England, where he became acquainted with James Hope (afterwards Hope-Scott) and other leaders of the Tractarian party.
He was bitterly opposed to what he considered to be the medievalism and narrowness of the Oxford Tractarian Movement.
Notwithstanding a charge of Arianism now brought against him by the Tractarian party, he in 1833 passed from a tutorship at Oriel to the principalship of St Mary's Hall.
The same year, however, he was appointed to the vicarage of St Saviour's, Leeds, a church founded to preach and illustrate Tractarian principles.
In the previous year the Tractarian movement had commenced, and Ward's relations with that movement were as original as the rest of his life.
In 1839 Ward became the editor of the British Critic, the organ of the Tractarian party, and he excited suspicion among the adherents of the Tractarians themselves by his violent denunciations of the Church to which he still belonged.
With Dean Church he may be said to have restored the waning influence of the Tractarian school, and he succeeded in popularizing the opinions which, in the hands of Pusey and Keble, had appealed to thinkers and scholars.