What is a ward?

In old novels people had wards that they were responsible for, but what is the term for the person who HAS a ward? Surely there must be a legal term if nothing else.

A. June (:smiley: )
B. Guardian.

take your pick.

A ward is essentially a foster child. The guardian has legal responsibility but is not a parent, either through childbirth, marriage or adoption.

Typically the ward (like a modern “ward of the state”) is an underage person. Back in the old days the guardian had control of the ward’s inheritance until the ward came of age. Some guardians did right by their wards, but some bled the estates dry before handing them over.
In some of the Robin Hood movies Maid Marian is the ward of King Richard. A far more amusing ward/guardian relationship is presented in the Importance of Being Ernest

And of course, Dick Greyson (a.k.a. Robin) was Bruce Wayne’s ward for decades. Of course this brings up the whole issue of a bachelor playboy millionare having custody of a non-related teenaged boy.

And regularly dressing him up in short-shorts and skintight shirts.

And elf-shoes. Never forget the elf-shoes.

Wardship was short of adoption- it covered set rights (including rights over money as well as behaviour- where one lives) and was legally monitored, but not always well monitored.

It still exists in England where a child may be made a ward of the court, where an appointed lawyer will take over wardship and make decisions on the child’s future. The U.S. twins recently adopted in Arkansas and taken to England by a couple (has it mad the news back there in the US?) were made wards of court recently.

"but what is the term for the person who HAS a ward? "
Sheesh! I came hear ready to give you ward heeler and political meanings, but, nevermind. Carry on.

I believe that the word Guardian is used, both historically and currently. Novels talk about people being appointed guardian, and the people being wards. Guardianship does not convey full parental rights but only those set out by the court or by another legal agreement.

If a child is made a ward of court, a guardian ad litem is appointed to look after the child’s interests.

In the 1983 Mental Health Act (England), there is a provision for Guardianship for people with limited mental capacity- (mental illness or learning disability etc.) which gives social workers (through the courts) the ability to ensure that people affected live in a particular place and attend day groups or other places. It also conveys other specific powers and is similar in form to guardian/ward state. The Children Act has similar codified ‘guardian/ward’ relationships, although I am not a specialist in this area.