Robert Perceval Graves

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Robert Perceval Graves
Robert Perceval Graves (page 44 crop).jpg
Born9 March 1810
Dublin, Ireland
Died5 October 1893
Dublin, Ireland
Alma materTrinity College Dublin
Notable worksLife of Sir William Rowan Hamilton
SpouseHelena Hutchins Bellasis

Robert Perceval Graves (9 March 1810 in Dublin – 5 October 1893 in Dublin)[1][2] was an Irish biographer and clergyman, brother of both mathematician and bishop Charles Graves[3] and jurist and mathematician John T. Graves.[4] He was a brother-in-law of the German historian Leopold von Ranke who was married to his sister Helena Clarissa, and an uncle of the poet Alfred Perceval Graves. Graves is best known for his three-volume biography of W. R. Hamilton.[5]

Life and career[edit]

Robert Perceval Graves was born in Dublin. He was educated in classics at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), where he became a Scholar in 1830, got a BA in 1832 (Gold Medal) and an MA in 1837.[6]

From 1833 to 1864 he worked as a clergyman in the Lake District in England, where he became friends with Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge.[7] On 31 May 1842 he married Helena Hutchins Bellasis (1809-1888), daughter of George Hutchins Bellasis (1778-1822), Captain in H.M. 19th Regt. of Light Dragoons, and Charlotte Maude (1778-1857), of Holly Hill, Windermere. He spent the last thirty years of his life back in Dublin, where he was sub-dean of the Chapel Royal, and taught at Alexandra College and also served as Vice Warden there. He was an early proponent of women being allowed access to the highest echelons of education, and in 1892 he published the pamphlet "Suggestions on the Subject of University Degrees for Women"[8] in which he urged that his alma mater TCD should admit female students (which they finally did in 1904).[9]

R. P. Graves is best remembered for his wide-ranging three volume Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, published in 1882,[10] 1885,[11] 1889.[12] TCD recognised his accomplishment by awarding him an honorary doctorate (LLD) in 1890.[9]

Graves died on 5 October 1893, and was interred at Mount Jerome, Dublin, on 9 October following a service at the Chapel Royal, Dublin.[13]


  1. ^ Photograph of Graves/Hutchins tombstone at Mount Jerome, Dublin
  2. ^ transcription of words on the Graves tombstone
  3. ^ Yaglom, I.M. (1988). Felix Klein and Sophus Lie. Boston: Birkhäuser Verlag. p. 91. ISBN 0-8176-3316-2.
  4. ^ The Graves family of Yorkshire and Mickleton Manor, Gloucestershire, England Graves Family Association
  5. ^ Hamilton was a friend of his brother John and also a colleague of his brother Charles.
  6. ^ Alumni Dublinenses : a register of the students, graduates, professors and provosts of Trinity College in the University of Dublin (1593-1860) Burtchaell,G.D/Sadlier, Dublin, A. Thom & Co., 1935, T.U p. 342.
  7. ^ Cooke, J. (1997), 'The Graves Family in Ireland'. /Dublin, Historical Record/, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Spring, 1997), pp. 25-39. Published by: Old Dublin Society.
  8. ^ Royal Commission on Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of Dublin: Final Report 1907: Appendix, Minutes of Evidence and Documents Great Britain Royal Commission on TCD and University of Dublin, p. 134
  9. ^ a b Rev Robert Perceval Graves Michael Farri.blogspot, August 6, 2009
  10. ^ Graves, Robert Perceval (1882). "Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Volume I". Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co.
  11. ^ Graves, Robert Perceval (1885). "Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Volume II". Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ Graves, Robert Perceval (1889). "Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Volume III". Dublin: Hodges, Figgis, & Co. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "Deaths". Freeman Journal. 6 October 1893. p. 1. GRAVES.—Oct. 5, 1893, at 1 Winton road, Dublin, the Rev. Robert Perceval Graves, LL.D., Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal, ad Vice Warden at Alexandra College. There will be a funeral service in the Chapel Royal on Monday , the 9th Inst., at 10 o'clock, after which the family and friends will follow to Mount Jerome, when the interment will take place.