Rev. Daniel Pring Alford [Obituary]

Trans. Devon. Assoc., 1878, Vol. 44, (1912). pp. 35-37.


Maxwell Adams (Ed.)

Prepared by Michael Steer

The obituary was presented at the Association’s July 1912 Exeter meeting. A rather similar obituary for Rev Alcock, together with his portrait is available at the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society website. GENUKI Devon also has a page for Rev Alford as a West Country Poet of distinction. The obituary may be located in a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal that can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Mr. Alford, who was Vicar of Tavistock for some years, died at Taunton on 3 August, 1911, in his seventy-third year. The Alford family came from the North of England, and are mentioned in the Cheshire Domesday Book; but branches have spread over several counties, including Devon, Dorset, and Somerset. Two members of the family were loyal Mayors of Lyme Regis for several years during the Civil War and the Monmouth Rebellion. Another acted as Treasurer to the royalist garrison of Exeter during the siege of 1646. Members of the Devonshire branch were well known at Ottery, Tallaton, Farway, and other parishes in the county, as local landowners or as professional men.
The Rev. D.P. Alford was a member of the Somerset branch of the family, which had been established in that county several centuries. They have been referred to as "a veritable family of the priesthood "; six successive generations having taken holy orders. Amongst these were Henry Alford, D.D., the well-known Dean of Canterbury, and the Right Rev. Charles Richard Alford, Bishop of Victoria.
The Rev. D. P. Alford was the second son of Mr. Henry Alford, F.R.C.S., of Taunton, in which town he was born on 28 November, 1838. He was educated at Taunton and Crewkerne, and matriculated at Exeter College, Oxford, in 1857, graduating B.A. with honours in 1861, and M.A. in 1864. He was ordained deacon in 1862 and priest in 1863 by the Bishop of Bath and Wells. After holding curacies at Taunton and Clayhidon, he became Chaplain of the Scilly Isles, 1865-9, and Vicar of St. Paul's, Tavistock, 1869-78. Then he removed to Bedfordshire for a few years; but returned to Devon as Vicar of Tavistock in 1883, and remained there until 1895, when he retired in consequence of the failure of his voice.
This is not the place in which to refer in detail to the numerous contributions, in prose and verse, which Mr. Alford sent to various magazines, although some of them were of a local character. His principal work was The Abbots of Tavistock, the greater part of which was written, in the first place, as a series of articles for his parish magazine. His contributions to the Transactions of the Association were: Four Tavistock Worthies of the Seventeenth Century - John Maynard, Thomas Larkham, William Browne, Richard Peake (1889); The Inscribed Stones in the Vicarage Gardens, Tavistock (1890); and Dick of Devonshire (1892). Mr. Alford's Short History of Tavistock Public Library was also a useful contribution to the history of local institutions.
After he left Devon he did much good and useful work as President of the Taunton Reading Society, and in connection with the Taunton Literary and Philosophic Society. He also wrote an outline of the history of Taunton Castle, which, was published as a handbook for the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society; and contributed a, number of most interesting historical and biographical papers to sundry volumes relating to Devon and Somerset. Mr. Alford was also President of the Taunton Field Club. He married a daughter of the Rev. 0. J. Tancock, D.C.L., a former Vicar of Tavistock, who survives him, as also do several of their children.