Albert Wratislaw

  (Redirected from Albert Henry Wratislaw)
Albert Henry Wratislaw

Albert Henry Wratislaw (5 November 1822 – 3 November 1892) was an English clergyman and Slavonic scholar of Czech descent.

Early lifeEdit

Albert Henry Wratislaw was born 5 November 1822 in Rugby, the eldest son of William Ferdinand Wratislaw (1788–1853), a solicitor of Rugby by his wife, Charlotte Anne (d. 1863), and grandson of Marc (Maximillian, 1735–1796), styled "Count" Wratislaw von Mitrovitz,[a] who emigrated to Rugby ca. 1770.[2][1]

Albert Henry entered Rugby School, aged seven, on 5 November 1829 (Register, i. 161), and matriculated at Cambridge from Trinity College in 1840, but migrated to Christ's, where he was admitted 28 April 1842; he graduated B.A. as third classic and twenty-fifth senior optime in 1844. He was appointed fellow of Christ's College (1844–1852) and became a tutor, ordained in 1846,[3] and commenced M.A. in 1847.[4] As a result, in collaboration with Dr Charles Anthony Swainson of the college, he published Loci Communes: Common Places (1848).[4][5] He left Christ's in 1852, and on 28 December 1853, married Frances Gertrude Helm (1831–1868).[b][4]

During the long vacation of 1849 he visited Bohemia, studied the Czech language in Prague, and in the same autumn published at London Lyra Czecho Slovanska, or Bohemian poems, ancient and modern, translated from the original Slavonic, with an introductory essay, which he dedicated to Count Valerian Krasinski, as "from a descendant of a kindred race".[c][4]

Headmaster positionsEdit

In August 1850 Wratislaw was appointed headmaster of Felsted School, his being the last appointment made by the representatives of the founder, Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich. During the previous 24 years under Thomas Surridge, the school had greatly declined in numbers. Wratislaw commenced with 22 boys, and the revival of the school was inaugurated by him. Unfortunately he found the climate of Felsted too bleak for him, and in 1855 he migrated, with a number of his Felsted pupils, to Bury St Edmunds, to become headmaster of King Edward VI School there. At Bury also he greatly raised the numbers of the school, which controversy about the book Jashar of his predecessor, Dr John William Donaldson, is said to have helped to empty.[4]

During the twenty years that followed his appointment at Felsted scholastic work took up nearly all Wratislaw's time.[4]

He was one of the dozen who attended the historic December 1869 meeting of headmasters gathered by Edward Thring of Uppingham School, considered to be the very first Headmasters' Conference.[7] In 1879 he resigned his headmastership at Bury St Edmunds, and became vicar[5] (or rector[8]) of the college living of Manorbier in Pembrokeshire.[4]


After his early publication of translated poetry in 1849, he published several texts and school books, but found it difficult to keep up his Bohemian studies.

Wratislaw published The Queen's Court Manuscript, with other ancient Bohemian Poems in 1852, a translation from the original Slavonic into English verse, mostly in ballad meter.[4][d] Wratislaw was aware that regarding the Queen's Court Manuscript (Rukopis královédvorský) allegedly discovered by Václav Hanka, there were rising suspicions regarding its authenticity. But he dismissed the doubt, because sceptics had not laid out concrete arguments from rational grounds.[10] Later developments branded the manuscript as a forgery, so that Professor Morfill, while extolling the excellence of Wratislav's 1849 and 1852 translations, had to make a regretful remark on the inclusion of forged poetry.[11]

He later published Adventures of Baron Wenceslas Wratislaw of Mitrowitz (1862), which was a translation of a 1599 account by the then-young Count Václav Vratislav z Mitrovic [cz] (1576–1635), from whom the Wratislaw family claim descent.[1] This was literally translated from the Bohemian work first published from the original manuscript by Pelzel in 1777, and prefaced by a brief sketch of Bohemian history.[4]

It was followed in 1871 by a version from the Slavonic of the Diary of an Embassy from King George of Bohemia to King Louis XI of France. Two years later, as the result of much labour, Wratislaw produced the Life, Legend, and Canonization of St. John Nepomucen, Patron Saint and Protector of the Order of the Jesuits, being a most damaging investigation of the myth contrived by the Jesuits in 1729. Among the small group of scholars in England taking an interest in Slavonic literature, Wratislaw's reputation was now established, and in April 1877 he was called upon to deliver four lectures upon his subject at the Taylor Institution in Oxford, under the Ilchester foundation. These were published at London next year as The Native Literature of Bohemia in the Fourteenth Century.[4]

While in Pembrokeshire, he wrote a biography of Jan Hus (John Huss, the Commencement of Resistance to Papal Authority on the part of the Inferior Clergy, London, 1882, 8vo, in the Home Library), based mainly upon the exhaustive researches of František Palacký and Václav Vladivoj Tomek [cz].[4]

His last work was Sixty Folk-Tales from exclusively Slavonic sources (London, 1889), a selection translated from Karel Jaromír Erben's Sto prostonárodních pohádek a pověstí slovanských v nářečích původních ("One Hundred Slavic Folk Tales and Legends in Original Dialects", 1865), also known as Čitanka slovanská s vysvětlením slov ("a Slavic Reader with Vocabulary").[4] It was given a mixed review by Alfred Nutt, who said the quality of the translations cannot be reproached with auspices given by Prof. Morfill, but the work did not rise above a "charming" anthology of tales due to its shortage of critical material.[12] Wratislaw included creation myth stories from Carniola involving the supernatural being called Kurent; Wratislaw defended this as being genuine ancient tradition, which Nutt disputed.[12]

Late lifeEdit

He gave up his benefice (college living), owing mainly to failing sight, in 1889, and retired to Southsea. He died there at Graythwaite, Alhambra Road, on 3 November 1892, aged 69.[4]

Explanatory notesEdit

  1. ^ William Ferdinand Wratislaw devoted considerable effort to prove their lineage from this family of counts, but with little success.[1]
  2. ^ They were married at High Wycombe. She was the second daughter of the Rev. Joseph Charles Helm (d. 1844).
  3. ^ It is noted that he took command of the Czech language at extraordinary speed, but that he may have previously been to the country, accompanying him five years earlier.[6]
  4. ^ In 1852 were issued a Prague edition with numerous typographical errors and a corrected edition of Cambridge and London.[9]


  1. ^ a b c Auty & Tyrrell (1969), p. 36.
  2. ^ Wratislaw (W. F.) (1849), p. 9.
  3. ^ Anon. (1847), "University and Clerical Intelligence (Oxford)", The Ecclesiastical gazette, IX: 85
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Seccombe (1900), Dictionary of National Biography '63, p. 68.
  5. ^ a b Schaff, Philip, ed. (1891), Samuel Macauley Jackson, David Schley Schaff, "Wratislaw, Albert Henry", A Religious Encyclopaedia: Or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, Funk & Wagnalls, 4, p. 244
  6. ^ Auty & Tyrrell (1969), pp. 36–37.
  7. ^ Elliott, Robert Winston (1963), The Story of King Edward VI School, Bury St. Edmunds, Foundation Governors of the School, p. 119
  8. ^ Auty & Tyrrell (1969), p. 37.
  9. ^ Notes and Queries (1870), Series IV, 5, p. 556, "Bohemian Ballad-Literature" replied to by Wlatislaw on p. 605, "Queen's Court Manuscript"
  10. ^ Wratislaw (1852), p. xiv.
  11. ^ Morfill, William Richard (1890), An Essay on the Importance of the Study of the Slavonic Languages, Frowde, pp. 10–11
  12. ^ a b Auty, R (1890), "(Review) Sixty Folk-tales from exclusively Slavonic Sources by A. H. Wratislaw", The Archaeological Review, 4 (6): 450–452 JSTOR 44243872