Queer Places:
Sherborne House, Newland, Sherborne DT9 3JL, UK

Alfred Pretor (January 10, 1840 - January 8, 1908) was the son of Samuel Pretor of Wyke House, Weymouth, Dorsetshire. He was born on January 10, 1840, at Sherborne, Dorsetshire. He attended Trinity College, admitted in 1858. He had previously attended Harrow School. On January 7, 1858, he became a pensioner of Dr Vaughan. His tutor was Mr Lightfoot. He matriculated in 1859, became a scholar in 1861 and obtained a B.A. in 1864 and a M.A. in 1868. He migrated to St Catharine's College in 1871 and became a fellow there.

He became a classical lecturer at Trinity Hall and Emmanuel College. He is the author of "Ronald and I," and other short stories; he edited classical texts.

In early 1858, Pretor, a friend of John Addington Symonds, sent him a letter, telling him that he was having an affair with Charles Vaughan, headmaster of Harrow School, and showed him several love letters. Symonds did not mention the incident for over a year, and then in 1859, gave the whole story to John Conington. Conington told Symonds to tell his father John Addington Symonds, a doctor.

Symonds senior wrote to Vaughan to inform him that he knew of his behaviour with Pretor. He would not expose him publicly, as long as Vaughan agreed to resign at once. After a long confrontation, about which nothing is known, Vaughan agreed. On 16 September Vaughan sent a circular to the parents. It read: "I have resolved after much deliberation, to take that opportunity of relieving myself from the long pressure of these heavy duties and anxious responsibilities which are inseparable from such an office, even under the most favourable circumstances." Four years later, in 1863, Vaughan accepted the position of Bishop of Rochester, ignoring Symonds's demand that Vaughan also never hold any high position in the church. Symonds telegrammed Vaughan, ordering him to resign or risk public exposure. So he resigned again. According to Noel Annan, "only after the elder Symond's death did Vaughan dare to accept the deanery of Llandaff, where his ordinands were known as 'Vaughan's doves.'" [5]

Pretor was furious about the younger Symonds's part in the scandal and refused to speak to him; but the secret was kept. Horatio Brown, Symonds's biographer and literary executor, skipped the Harrow years, saying merely "The autobiography of the Harrow period is not copious". On his death Vaughan had all his papers destroyed and forbade any biography of him to be written. Vaughan maintained his friendship with Pretor until his death and at his request Pretor undertook the duties of his literary executor.[6]

Pretor died on January 8, 1908, at Wyke Regis. Obituary from the Times of London, January 13, 1908: We regret to record the death, which occured last Wednesday, of Mr. Alfred Pretor, Fellow of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, after a long and painful illness. Mr. Pretor was born in 1840, and was the son of Samuel Pretor, banker, of Sherborne. He was educated at Harrow from 1853 to 1860, where be became head boy and won many school prices, and finally a leaving scholarship. His friendship with the then headmaster, Dr. Vaughan, was close, and was maintained until the death of the latter, and, at the request of Dr. Vaughn, Pretor undertook the duties of his literary executor. On coming to Cambridge, Pretor obtained a foundation scholarship at Trinity College, and he was bracketed seventh in the Classical Tripos of 1864. After taking his degree he was an active "coach" for some years, and until 1872 he was lecturer in classics at Trinity Hall. In 1872 he was elected a Fellow of St. Catharine's College, where, and at Emmanuel College, he continued to lecture. On the founding of Girton College Mr. Pretor showed himself as active supporter of the higher education of women, lecturing there for some years, and even after ceasing to reside in Cambridge he came back frequently to lecture at that college. He was for some time a member of the counvil of Girton.- He examined three times for the Classical Tripos, and always took the liveliest interest in the promotion of classical study in the University. He edited several classical books, including the Satires of Persius, and latterly had, as a writer of short stories, of which perhaps "Ronald and I" is the best known, gained a high reputation. Although for many years he had ceased to reside, his death will be deeply felt by a number of personal friends in the University.


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  1. http://brittlebooks.library.illinois.edu/brittlebooks_open/Books2009-06/trinco0001admtri/trinco0001admtriv00005/trinco0001admtriv00005_ocr.txt
  2. Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900, Volume 2 by John Venn Cambridge University Press, Sep 15, 2011 - History - 624 pages
  3. https://www.newspapers.com/clip/30458417/alfred_pretor/