What was he like?

John Worthington, Master of Jesus College 1650-60, wrote of Ray in 1661:

“ He is a person of great worth; and yet humble, and far from conceitedness and self-admiring. He is a conscientious Christian; and that’s much said in little.”

Samuel Dale, who grew up in Braintree and assisted the elderly Ray in plant and insect classification, wrote years later that Ray was:

“... affable, being not puffed by his learning...”

Ray was a tutor at Cambridge, diligent in responsiblity for his students. In July 1661 he wrote concerning Timothy Burrell:

“ The continuing distemper of your cousin... caused me to... defer my journey northward till I might see him in a probable way of recovery, or ... under the care of his relations which is now in part come to passe. ...I intend now to set out on Monday next; too late in the year, I confesse, in relation to the inquisition of plants, but a more convenient time to travel.”

Ray was ordained in 1660 and offered a parish in Cheadle.

“ I am not resolved... if I shall bid farewll to my beloved and pleasant studies and employments, and give myself up to the priesthood, and take to the study of that which they call divinity, I thinke it were the best way to throw myself into the country [away from Cambridge] and make it my business to execute the priest’s office.”
Further Correspondence p.16 Letter to Courthope, 3 Jan 1660

Ray’s botanical and zoological interests covered an amazingly wide range of God’s creation, but he admitted in 1690 that regarding...

“ serpents... I have such a natural abhorrency of that sort of animal, that I was not very inquisitive after them.”

Dec 15 1692 "I would not willingly give offence to any man: but permitt every one to enjoy his own sence concerning subjects that are not of any ill influence or consequence."

At the death of a friend, Ray wrote:

“ as Christians we must not grieve like men without hope".


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