Authorised form of nameGray; John (- 1769); mathematician
Other forms of surnameGrey
Dates - 1769
Date of death17 July 1769
Dates and placesBurial:
Petersham, Richmond upon Thames, Greater London [formerly Surrey], England United Kingdom
OccupationMathematician; teacher; plantation and slave owner; merchant
Research fieldMathematics
Taught mathematics at Marischal College (later part of University of Aberdeen); Navy Office (c 1731); collaborated with Andrew Reid on a four-part abridgment of the Royal Society's Philosophical Transactions (1720-1732); went to Caratgena [Colombia] (c 1733), probably as a factor for the South Sea Company; whilst in Cartagena made scientific observations including astronomical and meteorological which he communicated to the Royal Society (c 1736-1739); worked with William Guthrie on a 12 vol. 'General History of the World, from the Creation to the Present Time' (1764-1767); Rector of Marischal College, University of Aberdeen (176-1769); owner of Gray's Inn Castle plantation, St George, Jamaica (1768-1769); left University of Aberdeen an endowment for two mathematics bursaries
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election16/03/1732
Published works'A Treatise on Gunnery' (London), 1731
General contextThe citation for Gray's election to the Royal Society states that he worked for the The Navy Office. The Navy Office were responsible for the construction and maintenance of Navy ships in the Royal Dockyards.

Sources in the Colonial Office papers held by the UK National Archive identify John Gray as a factor for the South Sea Company at Cartagena. The South Sea Company (officially The Governor and Company of the merchants of Great Britain, trading to the South Seas and other parts of America, and for the encouragement of the Fishery) was a British joint-stock company founded in 1711, created as a public-private partnership to consolidate and reduce the cost of the national debt. To generate income, in 1713 the company was granted a monopoly (the Asiento) to supply enslaved African pepole to the islands in the 'South Seas' and South America. Company stock rose greatly in value as it expanded its operations dealing in government debt, and peaked in 1720 before suddenly collapsing to little above its original flotation price. The notorious economic bubble thus created, which ruined thousands of investors, became known as the South Sea Bubble.
Bulloch's Roll; Wikipedia; UCL LBS
Stearns, Raymond Phineas 'Colonial fellows of the Royal Society of London, 1661-1788' Notes Rec. R. Soc. Lond. 8 178–246, 1997,
'John Gray Rector of Marischal College', Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, [accessed 9th July 2020]
Finucane, A ''The Temptations of Trade: Britain, Spain, and the Struggle for Empire' (Pennsylvania), 2016
Virtual International Authority File
Royal Society codeNA1108
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
IM/001753Gray, Johnnd
RBO/20/1'Account of the Peruvian or Jesuit's Bark by John Gray'1736
CLP/10ii/23Paper, 'An account of the Peruvian or Jesuits bark' by John Gray[1736]
EC/1731/09Gray, John: certificate of election to the Royal Society16 March 1732
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