A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Ray, John

Ray, John (1627-1705). Naturalist, s. of a blacksmith at Black Notley, Essex, was at Camb., where he became a Fellow of Trinity, and successively lecturer on Greek and mathematics. His first publication was a Latin catalogue of plants growing near Cambridge, which appeared in 1660. Thereafter he made a tour of Great Britain, and pub. in 1670 his Catalogue of the Plants of England and the adjacent Isles. In 1663 he had travelled on the Continent or three years with his pupil-friend, F. Willughby, and in 1673 appeared Observations on his journeys, which extended over the Low Countries, Germany, Italy, and France, with a catalogue of plants not native to England. On the death of Willughby, R. ed. his sons, and in 1679 retired to his native village, where he continued his scientific labours until his death. These included the ed. of W.'s History of Birds and Fishes, a collection of English proverbs, Historia Plantarum Generalis (1686-1704), and Synopsis Methodica Animalium. He was for long popularly known by his treatise, The Wisdom of God manifested in the works of the Creation (1691), a precursor of Paley's Natural Theology. R. is the father of English botany, and appears to have grasped the idea of the natural classification of plants, afterwards developed by Jussieu and other later naturalists. His greatest successors, including Cuvier, highly commended his methods and acquirements.