Hamilton Ward was born in Salisbury, Herkimer County, NY on July 3, 1829. He read law in the office of A. & W. P. Konkle in Elmira, and was admitted to the bar at Cooperstown in July of 1851.
In September of that year, Ward moved to Belmont, NY and began practice. In 1856 he was elected District Attorney for Allegany County, a post he held for the next three years. He was elected to a second tour as District Attorney in 1862, but resigned after two years, to assume the seat on the U. S. House of Representatives to which he had been elected in 1864. He sat in Congress for three terms (1865-71), during which time he held seats on the Committee on Claims, the Committee on Reconstruction, and the Committee to Impeach President Johnson. Following his period in Congress, he was appointed to a Commission to Recommend Amendments to the State Constitution. He dissented from the final report of the Commission, which was thus rejected by the Legislature. He next held office as Attorney-General of New York for a term (1879-81).
After ten years in exclusively private practice, Ward was appointed to the Supreme Court for the Eighth District in May of 1891, replacing the late Thomas Corlett. Returned by election in the Fall, he presided as a trial judge from his appointment to the organization of the Appellate Division for the Fourth Department in January of 1896. Sitting in the first batch of appointees to the new court, he remained on that court until his death in December of 1899, days before his scheduled retirement.