Alfred James Carver (1826–1909), headmaster, was born at King's Lynn on 22 March 1826, the only son of James Carver (1790–1866) and his wife, Anne Spurling. His father was an evangelical clergyman of an old Norfolk family, who, after graduating at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, devoted himself in London to the spiritual welfare of prisoners for crime or debt in Newgate and other prisons.
In 1852, Carver became surmaster of St Paul's, his old school, and was ordained in the following year. In 1858 he was appointed master of Alleyn's College of God's Gift at Dulwich.
In 1858 he was appointed master of Alleyn's College of God's Gift at Dulwich. A new scheme for the development of Alleyn's educational foundation had just been sanctioned by a private act of parliament. Although Alleyn had intended, by statutes drawn up in 1626, to found a public school of the high grade, his educational endowment was until 1858 applied solely to the instruction of 'twelve poor scholars'. The new act, which Carver was first to administer, created two schools of different types. The upper school, providing a public-school education for boys up to the age of eighteen, was soon known as Dulwich College, and the lower school, offering what was described as middle-class secondary education, mainly for boys intended for commerce, was named Alleyn's School. Both schools were under Carver's control and prospered greatly. The upper school or Dulwich College moved in 1870 to a building designed by Charles Barry (1823–1900).
In 1882 when, under a new act, Dulwich College and Alleyn's School, which also moved into new buildings under his guidance, became two distinct schools under separate masters. He felt able to retire in the following year with a pension after twenty-five years' service.
Carver, who had three sons and five daughters, died at his home, Benshurst (Lynnhurst), Streatham Common, on 25 July 1909, and was buried in Norwood cemetery, the first part of the funeral service being held in the college chapel.
(W. R. M. Leake and M. C. Curthoys)