Alford was born into an ecclesiastical family in Somerset, England on 13 August 1816. His father was the rector of West Quantoxhead. He was educated at St Paul's School, London and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in 1839 and priest a year later at Lincoln Cathedral. He served curacies at Holy Trinity, Finningley and St Matthew's Rugby. Alford married Sarah Jacosha Fleet at St Margaret Pattens in the City of London, on 20 July 1840.
In 1846 he became Vicar of Christ Church, Doncaster, a post he held for eight years. He was then principal of Highbury Training College for a decade then vicar of Holy Trinity, Islington. In 1867 he was ordained to the episcopate at Canterbury Cathedral as the second Bishop of Victoria, Hong Kong. The Alfords left England on 29 July 1867 and arrived in Hong Kong on the 8th of October 1867. Between September and December 1868 Alford made pastoral visits to the newly established treaty ports of Japan, arriving in Yokohama on the 24th of November just in time to witness the procession of the Meiji Emperor as the Imperial capital was relocated from Kyoto to Edo.
After resigning his episcopate and returning to England in 1874 he held further incumbencies at Christ Church, Claughton, Merseyside and St Mary's Kippington. From 1880 until his retirement in 1881 he was a commissary to the Diocese of Huron. He died on 13 June 1898.
- First Principles of the Oracles of God, 1856
- Charge to Diocese of Victoria, with Review of Missions to China and Japan, 1871
- Standfast, 1895
- Collected Sermons, 1899 (posthumous publication)
- National Archives
- Alford Association[permanent dead link]
- “Who was Who” 1897–1990 London, A & C Black 1991 ISBN 0-7136-3457-X
- "Alford, Charles Richard (ALFT835CR)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- "The Clergy List, Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory" London, Hamilton & Co 1889
- Church website Archived September 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Mockford, James (1988). Anglican and Episcopal History (Vol. 57 no. 1 ed.). Historical Society of the Episcopal Church. p. 50. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
- The Times, Monday, Aug 27, 1877; pg. 9; Issue 29031; col F Ecclesiastical News
- Photo of church
- Diocesan web-site
- Obituary. Bishop Alford The Times 16 June 1898; pg. 10; Issue 35544; col A