Alfred Perceval Graves

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Alfred Perceval Graves
One page of a letter bearing Graves' signature.

Alfred Perceval Graves (22 July 1846 – 27 December 1931), was an Anglo-Irish poet, songwriter, and school inspector (HMI).

Life and work[edit]

He was born in Dublin on 22 July 1846, the son of The Rt. Rev Charles Graves, Bishop of Limerick, by his wife Selina, the daughter of John Cheyne (1777–1836), the Physician-General to the Forces in Ireland. Alfred was educated in England at Windermere College, and Trinity College, Dublin. His paternal grandmother Helena was a Perceval, and the granddaughter of the Earl of Egmont. His grandfather, John Crosbie Graves, was a first cousin of 'Ireland's most celebrated surgeon', Robert James Graves.

In 1869 he entered the Civil Service as clerk in the Home Office, where he remained until he became an inspector of schools in 1874 . He was a contributor of prose and verse to the Spectator, The Athenaeum, John Bull, and Punch magazine.[1]

He took a leading part in the revival of Irish letters. He was for several years president of the Irish Literary Society, and was the author of the famous ballad of Father O'Flynn and many other songs and ballads. In collaboration with Charles Stanford he published Songs of Old Ireland (1882), Irish Songs and Ballads (1893), the airs of which are taken from the Petrie MSS.; the airs of his Irish Folk-Songs (1897) were arranged by Charles Wood, with whom he also collaborated on Songs of Erin (1901).[1]

He published an autobiography, To Return to All That in 1930, as a response to his son Robert's Goodbye to All That.[1]


Alfred Perceval's marriage to Jane Cooper, (29 December 1874 - 24 March 1886) of Coopers Hill, Co. Limerick, resulted in five children:[2]

  • Philip Perceval, b. 25 February 1876 (or 1870), m. Millicent Gilchrist.
  • Mary, b. 6 June 1877, d. circa 1949. m. Arthur Sansome Preston.
  • Richard Massie, b. 14 September 1880, d. 14 August 1960, m. Eva Wilkinson, 1912.
  • Alfred Perceval ("Bones"), b. 14 December 1881, m. Eirene Gwen Knight (a singer).
  • Susan Winthrop Savatier Graves, b. 23 March 1885, m. Kenneth Macaulay.

After the death of his first wife, Alfred Perceval married Amalie (Amy) Elizabeth Sophie (or Sophia) von Ranke, on 30 December 1891, resulting in five more children:


  1. ^ a b c Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 152. ISBN 0-7171-2945-4. 
  2. ^


External links[edit]