River Ravensbourne


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Lewisham High St.

Heritage Trail

Research and notes by Julian Watson

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St.Mary the Virgin, Lewisham Lewisham High Street  SE13 6LE

St.Mary the Virgin Lewisham

346 Lewisham High Street

SE13 6LE   020 8690 2682


Contacts 7

John Edward Gray

JOHN EDWARD GRAY(1800-1875), English naturalist, born at Walsall, Staffordshire. He began his zoological career by volunteering to collect insects for the British Museum at age 15. He officially joined the Zoological Department in 1824 to help catalogue the reptile collection. In 1840 he was appointed as Keeper of Zoology, which he continued for 35 years, publishing well over 1000 papers. He named many marine species. Within a few years of his appointment he was responsible for creating the largest and most complete zoological collection in the world. Although seized with paralysis in 1870, he continued to discharge the functions of keeper of zoology.



His interests were not confined to natural history only, for he took an active part in questions of public importance of his day, such as slave emancipation, prison discipline, abolition of imprisonment for debt, sanitary and municipal organizations, the decimal system, public education. Gray was also interested in postage stamps on 1 May 1840, the day the Penny Black first went on sale, he purchased several with the intent to save them, thus making him the world's first known stamp collector.


©  Photos: Wellcome images