John Ray (or Wray, as he at one time spelled his name), an English naturalist, born near Braintree, Essex, in 1628, died in 1705. He graduated at Trinity college, Cambridge, became a fellow in 1649, professor of Greek in 1650, and mathematical tutor in 1652. His health being impaired, he travelled over the greater part of England, Wales, and Scotland, studying their botany and zoology. At the restoration he took orders, but never held any church preferment, and two years later resigned his fellowship, as he could not conscientiously subscribe to the act of uniformity. After this he resided chiefly at Middleton hall, in Warwickshire. From 1663 to 1666 he travelled with Mr. Willughby on the continent, and he published an account of this tour in 1673. In 1667 he was elected a fellow of the royal society. Among his most important works are: Catalogus Plantarum Anglioe (1670), the foundation of all English floras; Methodus Plantarum Nova (1682), in which he proposed a new method of classification, which, altered and amended by himself, formed the basis of the method of Jussieu; and His-toria Plantarum (3 vols., 1686-1704). He edited Willughby's works on the animal kingdom, and published several of his own.
His "Collection of English Proverbs" (1672) has passed through many editions, and was reprinted with additions by H. G. Bohn (London, 1850). A revised edition of his "Glossaries of North and South Country Words," by Skeat, was published in 1874 by the English dialect society. The Ray society of London, formed in 1844 for the publication of works on natural history, took its name from him, and has published "Memorials of John Ray," edited by E. Lankester, M. D. (1844).