William Ward (1796 to 1881), Merchant of Brixton and working in the City of London, had left in his will £20,000.00, a third of his fortune, towards the establishment of a high school for girls; the rest of the money was to be used for the benefit of “the Poorer Classes”. So, in 1894, the City of London School for Girls was founded. Until 1969 its site was in Carmelite Street, EC4. There is a blue City plaque to remember the school. It was William Ward’s conviction that girls should be given a broad and liberal education with an emphasis on scholarship.
The school, now housed in the Barbican, is an independent fee-paying school. It continues to receive financial support from the City Livery Companies as well as banks and other City firms. Links with the City of London remain strong – the City administers the school and the Board of Governors is appointed by the Court of Common Council. The school has strong links with its brother school – the City of London School - which is just a 15-minute walk away. The school celebrated its 110th Anniversary in 2004–05, under the title of 'Women in Leadership'. It celebrated its 111th Anniversary in 2005–06, under the same title. Its 112th Anniversary in 2006–2007 was celebrated under the title of 'International Women in Leadership'. Right from the beginning, the school has always had Head Mistresses. There is a whole list of notable students, the more popular ones being Elizabeth Emanuel who designed Lady Diana’s wedding dress for her big day at St Paul’s and Claudia Winkleman, TV presenter.
William Ward was buried at St Matthews Church Brixton which has a substantial monument in the front forecourt.