John Gray Rector of Marischal College

???? - 17th Jul 1769


Uncle of John Elmslie senior (q.v.), to whom he left estates and enslaved people in Jamaica.

  1. 'Although John Gray (d.1769) had been rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen, since 1762 (a largely ceremonial position), he lived near London on Richmond Hill, three miles from Millar’s home at Kew Green. He had probably known Millar since 1726, during the latter’s earliest days in London. He was credited by Millar’s friends Patrick Murdoch and Robert Symmer (d.1763) with clarifying Newton’s philosophy for the poet James Thomson, who published A Poem Sacred to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton in 1727. Gray was a capable scholar who collaborated with Andrew Reid on a four-part abridgment of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactionsfrom 1720–32 (London: W. Innys and R. Manby, 1733). Gray also worked with William Guthrie (1708–70) on a 12–vol. General History of the World, from the Creation to the Present Time(London: J. Newbery et al., 1764–67).'

  2. Will of John Gray of [King Street] St Paul Covent Garden proved 01/08/1769. Under the will he left Grays Inn of some 2000 acres - which he had built up over time by purchase - and the enslaved people on it to his nephews John Elmslie and John Thomas, both then of Jamaica. He left the rest of his estates in trust for 12 years to Elmslie, Thomas and John Wallace to share the profits (subject to the annuities and legacies he charged on the estates), and thereafter to go to John Elmslie for life, then to Wallace and then to Thomas.

  3. Although the will of John Gray of King Street is silent on Marischal College, in his will he asked to be buried at Petersham with his dear wife Elizabeth in the vault he had built for her in 1760. This cements the links between John Gray of King Street and Marischal College: a footnote in the Life of James Thompson says of John Gray 'author of A Treatise on Gunnery [he] was admitted FRS in 1732 and contributed a paper to the Philosophical Transactions. In 1765 he was chosen as rector of Marischal College, Aberdeen; and by deed dated 1768, founded two mathematical bursaries in that university. He died in London rector of Marischal in 1769 and was buried at Petersham in Surrey.' The will also included a legacy to Andrew Reid of the Customs House, probably his co-author [see 1. above].

  4. Possibly the John Gray who was listed in the Jamaican Quit Rent books for 1754 as the owner of 1795 acres of land in St George.


  1. Edinburgh University, Andrew Millar Project, [accessed 24/08/2016].

  2. PROB 11/950/257.

  3. Patrick Murdoch An account of the life and writings of Mr James Thomson [n.d.] p. xiii.

  4. 'A List of landholders in the Island of Jamaica together with the number of acres each person possessed taken from the quit rent books in the year 1754', TNA CO 142/31 transcribed at

Further Information


Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1768 [EA] - 1769 [LA] → Owner

Legacies Summary

Cultural (2)

Marischal College...... 
notes →
John Gray was Rector 1764-1769 and also in 1768 gave £1000 to fund two mathematical bursaries. Evidence, oral and documentary, taken and received by the Commissioners...for visiting the...
Royal Society...... 
notes →
For the full record of Gray's membership of the Royal Society see Royal Society:...

Relationships (3)

Uncle → Nephew
Notes →
Elmslie was the chief beneficiary under his uncle's...
Second Husband → Wife
Notes →
This is tentative. Elizabeth Carlile married John Gray of Southampton Street and Jamaica in 1752; John Gray Rector of Marischal College built a vault for his wife Elizabeth at Petersham in 1760. But...
Uncle → Nephew
Notes →
John Thomas was co-heir under the will of his uncle John...

Addresses (1)

King Street, City of London, Middlesex, London, England