See also: Ray (homonymy)
John Ray , born the November 29th 1627 in the village of Black Notley, close to Braintree in the Essex and dead the January 17th 1705, was a Naturaliste English, sometimes called the father of the British natural history . Until 1670, it signs John Wray . Contrary to the other naturalists of its time, he is not doctor. It is not thus interested in the Plante S for the Pharmacologie but for scientific reasons more . He is also the author of very important work in zoology. He is regarded as one of the founders of the modern Natural history.
BiographyWire of blacksmith, it makes his studies at the school of grammar of Braintree. At sixteen years, undoubtedly thanks to a kind of purse granted by the vicar of Braintree, it leaves to study with Cambridge with St Catharine' S College. In 1645, it is transferred to the Trinity College where its tutor is the royal professor of Greek, James Duport (1606-1679); one of his/her comrades is the future mathematician Isaac Barrow (1630-1677). It seems that this establishment was appropriate more to him that the first. In 1649, it is elected member (minor fellow). It occupies a room that Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) will occupy a few years later. It gives readings on the Greek (as from 1651), mathematics (1653) and humanities (1655). It is praelector (1657), senior junion (1657), steward of the school (1659 and 1660). According to the practices of the time, it can preach in the vault of the school like to St Mary the Great with St Michael before entering the orders.
It acquires a solid knowledge of Latin, one of his biographers analyzing the quality and the style of the Latin writing of John Ray in deduced that this one has and attentively to study it lengthily. Contrary to the uses of its time, Ray will choose Latin for his books. This choice undoubtedly caused the persistent ignorance of its work among the English and American scientists. However, it is also interested in the English language and makes appear in 1670 off a collection of proverbs under the title of Collection English Proverbs .
John Ray is ordered priest the December 23rd 1660. The calm and studious life of Cambridge brutally stops in 1662, Ray then refusing to adhere to the Act off Uniformity. It leaves its functions the year even of the entry of Newton in Trinity College. It is withdrawn then in its native village where, he says itself, it is placed under Providence and of good friends. One could believe that his departure of Cambridge leads it to give up its research, would be this only because it is found insulated and without having the rich person libraries of the university. But Ray has a rich person personal library., his friends, moreover, must assist it in its research and provide him certainly books.
It is during its years in Cambridge that John Ray meets Francis Willughby (1635-1672), to enter like member (fellow-commoner) in Trinity College. Soon the two men tie a solid friendship. In 1660, they leave to observe nature on the island of Man. Like William Derham (1657-1735), which meets Ray at the end of its life, will write: These two men, considering that the History of too imperfect Nature conclude whereas it must reduce the Whole of Things to a Method; and to give precise Descriptions of various species, starting from a strict opinion. And like the genius of Mr. Willughby leads it to mainly to the animals like the Oiseaux , the Bêtes , the Poisson and the Insectes and Mr. Ray with the vegetable .
This friendship is not only the occasion for Ray to start a profitable collaboration, Willughby, easy and generous man, finance their voyages common and offers to Ray, until the end of its days, a lodging as well as a revenue of sixty books after the early death of Willughby, Ray dealing with the education of its two sons, Francis (1668-1688) and Thomas (1672-1729). Ray will be all its life recognizing and will write besides with the sister of Willughby: I must with the generosity of your Honore Frère, whom I can have the leisure to write any pensée.
Willughby dies in only thirty-six years. The historians of sciences often tried to measure the share of one or other in the works which Ray will publish after the death of Willughby. It is undeniable, and Ray itself underlines it with a great modesty, that the contribution of Willughby, quality and the number of its observations, is immense. The work of two men, where it is impossible to disentangle with exactitude the share taken by one or the other, is an good example of the friendship in science, which is not even stopped by death.
A great voyage in EuropeOf 1663 with 1666, Ray and Willughby travel to Europe, sometimes in company of other companions. They visit the France, the Netherlands, the Germany, the Austria, the Suisse and the Italy. They carry out many observations on the flora as on fauna and meet many scientists. The voyage is stopped when the king of France emits an Edict into 1666 which prohibits the presence of British on the ground of the kingdom. The two men report an immense harvest of observations which they then start to organize.
Ray meets, of passage to Montpellier in 1665, Niels Stensen (1638-1686), author De Solido will intra Solidum naturaliter Contento (published in 1669 and translated into English in 1671). It is in this treaty, following Robert Hooke (1635-1703), that Stensen establishes for the first time the true nature of the Fossile S.
Six years later, Willughby dies. Four years later, Ray publishes the Ornithology in the name of his/her friend, follow-up, in 1686, of sound Historia Piscium . This one is considered, more still than the Ornithology , more like the work of Ray that of that of Willughby.
John Ray is elected member of the Royal Society in 1667. Willughby and Ray make soon appear in the memories of Royal Society their first scientific publication, it is devoted to the circulation of the sap in the trees. John Wilkins (1614-1672), which had taken an active part in the creation of Royal Society, requires of him to translate into Latin his book Real Character .
Its first work of botanyIt starts to be interested in the plants whereas patient it must make long walks in the campaigns. He will say later that the study of the plants can be a leisure which makes it possible to contemplate what one constantly has under the eyes and that one tramples without thinking of it, to admire the beauty of the plants and the skilful art of nature. Initially the diversity of the plants of spring, then the form, the color and the structure of particular plants fascinated me and absorbed: the interest for botany became a passion .
In 1660, it makes appear anonymously, a flora of the surroundings of Cambridge, Catalogus stirpium circa Cantabrigiam nascentium where it exposes its first observations while following the organization of the work of Gaspard Bauhin (1560-1624), Catalogus Plantarum circa Basileam sponte nascentium , published in 1622. It does not describe less than 558 species of the surroundings of Cambridge which it all examined directly. Each time it approaches a new species, it gives information on a morphological description, its habitat, its flowering and therapeutic indications. It follows the classification of Jean Bauhin (1541-1613), brother of Gaspar Bauhin. The work is an immense success.
Thomas Johnson (1604/5-1644) and her friend John Goodyer (1592-1664) had planned as of 1641 to carry out a British flora, but the death of Johnson during the seat of Basing House puts a term at this project. Ray then undertakes to continue an identical project and to carry out a flora of England. This project will not find a result with the publication of sound Iter plantarum… of 1690.
After its departure of Cambridge, Ray undertakes to go on a great journey botanical study which leads it, from August 5th, 1658 to September 18th of the same year, to visit the area of Northampton, Warwick, Coventry, Derby, Buxton, Anglesey, Worcester, Gloucester, etc In 1670, it publishes Catalogus plantarum Angliæ and insularum adjacentium , first English flora.
Historia plantarum…Ray considers the publication of a European flora and extends its voyages to the Europe. It starts to work on this new project in 1682 and makes appear the first part in 1686, under the title of Historia plantarum generalis , first attempt at a world flora. Its publication is completed in 1704 with the publication of the third part. Ray adds to the European species the plants which are sent to him by the European explorers. The very imposing size of these volumes, that the presence of illustrations do not explain, makes them not easily handy, especially within the framework of their consultation on the table of a naturalist. According to Arber (1943), it is undoubtedly one of the reasons which made Institutiones rei herbariae of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), of small size and very handy, a reference book for the botanists of the beginning of the 18th century, much more than intrinsic qualities of the classification of John Ray. This one described in its Historia plantarum 6.000 S and even if the majority are not innovations, complete descriptions, brêves and, are of a great quality.
John Ray touches twenty books for each of three volumes of the Historia plantarum like twenty specimens free. Taking into account the manufacturing costs of this work and standards of the time, it is rather a good remuneration.
Botanical classificationRay tries the first natural classification of the plants and exposes its method in three works: Methodus plantarum nova (1682), the first volume of Historia plantarum (1686) and in Methodus emendata (1703). It thus separates the Monocotylédone S from the Dicotylédone S in a clear way, probably inspired by Théophraste, the Gymnosperme S of the Angiosperme S. It draws aside also the plants without flowers (like the Fougère S) of the plants with flowers.
Thanks to him, the vocabulary botanist grows rich considerably. One owes him in particular the term of Cotylédon or that of Pollen. It employs also the vocabulary formed by Marcello Malpighi (1628-1694), of Karl Sigismund Kunth (1788-1850) or of Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712).
It also tries an outline of classification of the Champignon S.
OrnithologyIn 1676, Ray publishes the Ornithologia libri very of Francis Willughby, prematurely dead. This Latin version is followed of a version in English language two years later. One regards the Ornithologia as one of the works founders of the modern Ornithologie. One does not know the share taken by Ray in the realization of this work, his friendship with Willughby, undoubtedly explains his discretion on this subject.
The work on the marine speciesTo carry out the Historia Piscium Ray assiduously attends the market of London also of Rome, at the time of its stay in Italy. It is in the search of rare species and does not hesitate to question the most experienced oldest sailors and.
Reptiles and other animalsto come .
InsectsThe observations that Ray publish are largely advances some over its time. It notes in particular that the examination of the Larve S, the Pupe S and the Imago S are necessary to a correct classification of the insects. The contribution of Willughy is undeniable on this part. The species of Lépidoptère S Rhopalocère S counts 47 perfectly recognizable British species, including six news for science. The work is left unfinished by John Ray without it east having time to make appear the part devoted to the Hétérocère S.
Concept of speciesAt 18th and the 18th many century Zoologist S and Botaniste S had used the concepts of kind and species but without their giving a rigorous base, situation which had led to a proliferation of the names allotted to the described species.
One in general allots to Carl von Linné (1707-1778) the definition of these concepts, but the attentive examination of the texts of John Ray, that Linné quotes with many recoveries, shows that Ray had described them in formulations very similar to those of Linné, which will appear about thirty years later. Linnné has nevertheless the merit to have formulated the rules of use in a precise way (to be reformulated).
In its Historia plantarum , Ray indicates thus that the plants cannot transmit to their descents acquired accidental characteristics. It specifies that the individuals belonging to a given species generate individuals identical to them. It also underlines the fertile absence of descent to a crossing between two individuals of different species.
Remain to integrate in this vision of the species, the individual differences. For Ray, they are due only to accidents or constraints of the environment (like the climate, the nature of the ground or the food). The diversity of appearance of the domestic species, not preventing crossings, constitutes an additional proof with the eyes of Ray to the stability of the species.
Ray believes that the number of the species is fixed since the creation of the world and its many observations do not lead it to conceive a possible evolution.
PhilosophyJohn Ray makes appear off in 1691 The Wisdom God Manifested in the Works off the Creation , which is published twenty-three time between 1691 and 1846. The first edition is completely sold in less than one years. The subject of this book is not really original, many other authors making, like Ray, of the adaptation of the animals and the plants to their environment the proof of the wisdom and the capacity of the Creator. Ray is interested in it on many subjects as the influence of the the Moon on the Marée S, the shape of the cells of the hive of the Abeille S, the movements of the birds and fish, etc
It should be seen that for a man believing like John Ray, the Bible is regarded as a literally true historical document. Ray thus has much difficulty of reconciling the biblical account of the Flood. Ray advances as well as the Flood was caused by the pressure on the seas of subterranean water. For as much, some of the geological designs of Ray are very in advance over its time.
Ray knows the new science , term which it uses to indicate the Cartesian thought . One knows that it has the Principia Philosophiae (1644), Dissertatio de Methodo (1650) and Passiones Animae (1650) of Rene Descartes (1596-1650). It is not foreign either of the ic school of Cambridge, in particular Thomas More (1478-1535) and Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688).
The posterity of John RayThe Ray Society is founded in 1844 and commemorates its name. The goal of this company is to promote work in Natural history.
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