Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gray, Samuel Frederick

GRAY, SAMUEL FREDERICK (fl. 1780–1836), naturalist and pharmacologist, was the posthumous son of Samuel Frederick Gray, the anonymous translator of Linnæus's ‘Philosophia Botanica’ for James Lee's ‘Introduction to Botany.’ Born after his patrimony had been distributed, he was entirely dependent on his own industry, and from 1800 to his death suffered from disease of the lungs. He became a pharmaceutical chemist at Walsall in Staffordshire, where his second son, John Edward Gray [q. v.], was born; but soon after this removed to London, his son George Robert Gray [q. v.] having been born at Chelsea. In 1818 he published a ‘Supplement to the Pharmacopœia,’ which went through five later editions (1821, 1828, 1831, and 1836), and was rewritten by Professor Redwood in 1847. Having studied Ray's tentative natural system of classification of plants, and never adopted the artificial system of Linnæus, Gray was much fascinated by the method of Jussieu, and arranged the plants in his supplement to the ‘Pharmacopœia’ (London, 1818) in accordance with it, this being the first English work in which it was adopted. Having become a contributor to the ‘London Medical Repository,’ he was in 1819 invited to become joint editor, and acted as such until 1821. Besides unsigned articles he contributed to this journal papers on the metamorphoses of insects, on worms, on indigenous emetic plants, on generation in imperfect plants (cryptogamia), &c. About this time he gave lectures on botany, upon the Jussieuan system, partly in conjunction with his son J. E. Gray, at the Sloane Street Botanical Garden and at Mr. Taunton's medical schools at Hatton Garden and Maze Pond. In 1821 he published ‘A Natural Arrangement of British Plants,’ in two volumes, the introductory portions only being by him, the synoptical part being the work of his son J. E. Gray, though not bearing his name. This valuable work was much decried by Sir J. E. Smith, Dr. George Shaw, and other extreme votaries of the Linnæan system, the alleged reason being that ‘English Botany’ was quoted as ‘Sowerby's’ and not as ‘Smith's.’ In Lindley's ‘Synopsis,’ printed in 1829, Gray's work is deliberately ignored, so that it has seldom received its due credit as our first flora arranged on the natural system. In 1823 Gray published ‘The Elements of Pharmacy,’ and in 1828 ‘The Operative Chemist,’ both practical works of a high order of merit.

[Memoirs, by Dr. J. E. Gray, 1872–5; London Medical Repository, 1819–21; and other works above named.]

G. S. B.