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 one of Her Majesty's Schools Inspectors.

Life and work[edit]

He was born in Dublin on 22 July 1846, the son of Charles Graves, Bishop of Limerick, by his wife Selina, the daughter of John Cheyne (1777–1836), the Physician-General to the British Forces in Ireland. 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.

Alfred was educated in England at Windermere College, Westmorland and Trinity College, Dublin. 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.[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 Good-Bye to All That.[1]


Graves built a large house, named "Erinfa", near Harlech in Wales which he used as a summer-retreat and where he spent his retirement. He had a keen interest in the Welsh language and culture and was elected as a Welsh bard in the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Bangor in 1902.[2]


Alfred Perceval's marriage to Jane Cooper, (29 December 1874 - 24 March 1886) of Coopers Hill, County Limerick, resulted in five children:[3]

  • 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. The couple had five 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. ^ Richard Perceval Graves (1986), Robert Groves The assault heroic, Biography 1895-1926. p.75.
  3. ^


External links[edit]