John Ray, the earliest recorded parson-naturalist, was one of the most distinguished naturalists of the 17th century. He was also a philosopher and theologian of note. Ray was also the first person to define’species’ biologically. Known as the “father of natural history,” he authored numerous influential books on plants, animals, and natural religion. This founding figure of botany and zoology made revolutionary advances to taxonomy. Ray, who was born in a village to a blacksmith father and an amateur herbalist mother, is thought to have spent the most of his infancy assisting his mother in gathering plants and examining their curative abilities. Ray obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Trinity College, Cambridge University. Later, he was appointed as a fellow of the college and held a number of teaching roles, but he was forced to retire owing to religious persecution. His contributions as a naturalist provided the groundwork for numerous future scientific endeavors. There are currently 172 of his works kept in some of London’s most prestigious libraries.
Youth and Early Life
John Ray was born in the nearby village of Black Notley. His father, Roger Ray, was a village blacksmith, while his mother, Elizabeth Ray, was an amateur herbalist and physician.
At the age of sixteen, he enrolled at Cambridge University, where he attended Trinity College and Catharine Hall. In 1649, he was chosen as a minor fellow at Trinity, and afterward a major fellow.
Beginning in 1651, he taught Greek, humanities, and mathematics while serving as a fellow at Trinity. He also served as the college’s preselector, junior dean, and steward.
He frequently delivered sermons at the college chapel and at Great St. Mary’s. On December 23, 1660, he received his official holy orders. He published “The Catalogue of Cambridge Plants” that year.
John Ray’s Career
On August 24, 1662, he and thirteen other fellows resigned from their fellowships because they could not subscribe to the Bartholomew Act of 1662.
His religious convictions were consistent with those mandated by Charles II of England’s restoration. Technically, he was a nonconformist, yet he continued to attend the Established Church of England.
From the spring of 1663 to March of 1666, he toured Europe with several of his students, including Francis Willughby, Philip Skippon, and Nathaniel Bacon.
In 1668, he published his works entitled “Tables of plants” and “Catalogue of English flora plus Fasiculus” Afterwards, he wrote “Catalogue of English proverbs.”
Together with Francis Willughby, he published his first article for Philosophical Transactions in 1669, titled “Experiments Concerning the Movement of Sap in Trees.”
His description of his international travels was published in 1673 as ‘Observations topographical, moral, and physiological, made on a Journey through part of the Low Countries, Germany, Italy, and France’
With the publication of his book titled “History of Plants” in 1686, he became the first person to conceptualize the biological meaning of the term “species.” In the same year, he also published “History of Fishes + Frontis and 187 Engraved Plates.”
In the 1690s, he released three volumes of religious works. The most well-known of these works was “The Wisdom of God Made Manifest in the Works of Creation.”
In 1691, he authored ‘The Wisdom of God,’ one of his most influential and widely read writings. In his subsequent work entitled “Natural Theology,” William Paley plagiarized this author’s work.
In the 1690s, he also published “Synopsis of Animals and Reptiles,” “Collection of Travels,” “Collection of European Plants,” “Plants of Each County,” and “Brief Dissertation.”
Awards & Achievements
He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1667.
Personal History and Legacy
He married Margaret Oakley of Launton in 1673.
In 1676, he moved to Sutton Coldfield, and the following year, he moved to Essex’s Falborne Hall.
He went to Black Notley in 1679, where he remained for the remainder of his life. Here, he endured terrible health and persistent blisters.
He passed away at age 77 in Black Notley.
There are 172 of his works that are considered to be extremely distinctive and unusual. The British Library, Euston, London, The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, The University of Cambridge Library, Library of Trinity College Cambridge, and The Natural History Museum Library, South Kensington, London, all house these materials.
Estimated Net worth
The primary sources of income for John Ray include ornithologist, theologian, zoologist, bryologist, and botanist. His estimated net worth is $4 million. We lack sufficient evidence regarding the automobiles and lifestyle of John Ray.
This English scientist of the 17th century was the first to provide a biological definition of the term species.’