Ray, John 1627-1705

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John Ray was born in Essex in 1627, the son of a blacksmith. He went to Cambridge University in 1644, encouraged by the Vicar of Brain tree. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity College in 1649, Tutor in 1653. He was ordained as a Puritan minister in 1660. In 1660 he published a catalogue of plants growing around Cambridge University. Ray was an English naturalist and has been called the "father of English Natural History" and the "greatest European botanist of the seventeenth century."

He traveled extensively through England, Scotland and Wales and in 1663-66 about Europe in an attempt to produce a systematic description of the entire organic world. The age of herbalists was over as indicated by John Ray. Also, with Morison, he made the greatest advance in plant classification in the 17th Century. This system was the basis of classification of De Jussieu and de Candolle. He exemplified the highest ideals of science, character and scholarship.

In 1682 he published Methodus Plantarum Nova, which with its later editions, gave his final views on his system of classification. He published Historia Plantarum Generalis (1686, 1704) in three volumes. This book was his greatest botanical contribution and contained not only a description of all known plants but also a general introduction to botanical science including plant anatomy plant physiology and plant morphology. This book (3 volumes) became the standard botanical text of the time and was still a reference book 100 years later. He published Synopsis Stirpium Britannicarum in 1670. It was the first British Flora.