Samuel Frederick Gray (1766 - 1828) - a brief biography

The Natural Arrangement of British Plants, published in 1821

The information below is derived from many sources; major reference texts are listed at the foot of the page.

British botanist and mycologist Samuel Frederick Gray was a pharmacologist by profession, and most of his publications were on medical matters; however, he was also actively involved in botany and mycology.

Born in Pall Mall, London on 10th December 1766, S F Gray was the son of a seedsman (also named Samuel); however, Gray the younger chose medicine as a career. Having failed to qualify as a physician, he set up as an assayer in Walsall, Staffordshire and supplemented his income by publishing medical and botanical works. It appears that writing and lecturing eventually became Gray's only source of income.

Major publications

S F Gray had a daughter and three sons. The middle son, John Edward Gray (1800 - 1875), is widely accredited as being the author all but the introductory sections of S F Gray's A Natural Arrangement of British Plants, which was published in two volumes in 1821. This work covered not only plants but also fungi (including nearly 400 lichenised fungi).

Samuel Frederick Gray died in Chelsea, London on 12th April 1828.

The standard abbreviation Gray denotes Samuel Frederick Gray in botanical/mycological citations, and anyone interested in macrofungi will come across Gray in the names of many fungi species in, for example, the Auriscalpium, Coltricia, Leccinum, and Steccherinum genera which were established in the S F Gray publication mentioned above.

Selected Sources:

Ainsworth, Geoffrey C. (1996) Brief Biographies of British Mycologists; British Mycological Society.

A. E. Gunther, ‘The miscellaneous autobiographical manuscripts of John Edward Gray (1800–1875)’, Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History) [Historical Series], 6 (1977–80), pp199–244.

Fascinated by Fungi, 2nd Edition, Pat O'Reilly 2016, reprinted by Coch-y-bonddu Books in 2022.

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