LifeBorn on 28 November 1701 in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, he was the youngest child of Sir Daniel Wray (died 1719), a London citizen and soap-boiler residing in Little Britain
Little Britain is a British character-based comedy sketch show which was first broadcast on BBC radio and then turned into a television show. It was written by comic duo David Walliams and Matt Lucas...
, by his second wife. His father was knighted on 24 March 1708, while high sheriff of Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...
, where he possessed an estate near Ingatestone
Ingatestone is a small town in Essex, England, with a population of about 4500 people. To the immediate north lies the village of Fryerning, and the two form the civil parish of Ingatestone and Fryerning....
. At the age of thirteen Daniel the son entered Charterhouse School
Charterhouse School, originally The Hospital of King James and Thomas Sutton in Charterhouse, or more simply Charterhouse or House, is an English collegiate independent boarding school situated at Godalming in Surrey.Founded by Thomas Sutton in London in 1611 on the site of the old Carthusian...
as a day scholar. In 1718 he matriculated from Queens' College, Cambridge
Queens' College, Cambridge
Queens' College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1448 by Margaret of Anjou , and refounded in 1465 by Elizabeth Woodville...
, graduating B.A. in 1722, and M.A. in 1728.
Between 1722 and 1728 he paid a prolonged visit to Italy in the company of James Douglas
James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton
James Douglas, 14th Earl of Morton KT FRS was a Scottish astronomer and representative peer who was President of the Philosophical Society of Edinburgh from its foundation in 1737 until his death...
. On 13 March 1729 he was admitted a fellow of the Royal Society, and on 18 June 1731 he was incorporated at Oxford. He resided generally at Cambridge until 1739 or 1740, but after being elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
Society of Antiquaries of London
The Society of Antiquaries of London is a learned society "charged by its Royal Charter of 1751 with 'the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries'." It is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London , and is...
in January 1741 he became a more habitual resident of London, lodging at the house of Arthur Pond
Arthur Pond was an English painter and engraver.-Life:Born about 1705, was educated in London, and stayed for a time in Rome studying art, in company with the sculptor Roubiliac. He became a successful portrait-painter....
. At a later date he removed to lodgings at Richmond and after his marriage took a house in town, first in King Street, Covent Garden, and afterwards in Duke Street, Soho, and another at Richmond.
In 1737 Wray became acquainted with Philip Yorke
Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke
Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke FRS , and eldest son of the 1st earl, was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.In 1741 he became a fellow of the Royal Society...
, and a lifelong friendship grew up. In 1741 Philip and his brother, Charles Yorke
Charles Yorke was Lord Chancellor of Great Britain.-Life:The second son of Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, he was born in London, and was educated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. His literary abilities were shown at an early age by his collaboration with his brother Philip in the...
, brought out the first volume of the Athenian Letters
The Athenian Letters was a collaborative work of Ancient Greek history and geography, published by a circle of authors around Charles Yorke and Philip Yorke, and taking the form of commentary in letter form on Thucidydes...
, to which Wray contributed under the signature ‘W.’ In 1745 Philip Yorke appointed Wray his deputy teller of the exchequer, an office which he continued to hold until 1782.
Wray had many friends among his literary contemporaries, among them Henry Coventry, William Heberden the elder, William Warburton
William Warburton was an English critic and churchman, Bishop of Gloucester from 1759.-Life:He was born at Newark, where his father, who belonged to an old Cheshire family, was town clerk. William was educated at Oakham and Newark grammar schools, and in 1714 he was articled to Mr Kirke, an...
, Conyers Middleton
Conyers Middleton was an English clergyman.Middleton was born at Richmond in Yorkshire, and was educated at school in York and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He graduated from the University of Cambridge, took holy orders, and in 1706 obtained a fellowship, which he resigned upon entering into an...
, and Nicholas Hardinge
Nicholas Hardinge was an English civil servant, clerk to the House of Commons from 1731 to 1752 and then Secretary to the Treasury, and a Member of Parliament known also as a neo-Latin poet.-Life:...
. He was a keen antiquary and collector of rare books, and on 18 June 1765 was appointed one of the trustees of the British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...
. He had younger men as protegees, including Francis Wollaston, George Hardinge
-Life:He was born on 22 June 1743 at Canbury, a manorhouse in Kingston upon Thames. He was the third but eldest surviving son of Nicholas Hardinge, by his wife Jane, daughter of Sir John Pratt. He was educated by Woodeson, a Kingston schoolmaster, and at Eton College under Edward Barnard.Hardinge...
, and William Heberden the younger
William Heberden the Younger
William Heberden the Younger was a British physician.He was born in London the son of the medical doctor William Heberden the Elder and his wife Mary Wollaston...
Wray died on 29 December 1783, and was buried in the church of St. Botolph Without, where there is a tablet to his memory. He married Mary (died 10 March 1803), daughter of Robert Darell of Richmond, Surrey. His portrait by Sir Nathaniel Holland was presented by his widow to Queens' College, Cambridge. Another, engraved by Henry Meyer from a painting by Nathaniel Dance, forms the frontispiece of the first volume of John Nichols
John Nichols (printer)
John Nichols was an English printer, author and antiquary.-Early life and apprenticeship:He was born in Islington, London to Edward Nichols and Anne Wilmot. On 22 June 1766 he married Anne Cradock daughter of William Cradock...
's Literary Illustrations. A copy of Dance's portrait by John Powell was presented to the Charterhouse library. In the Literary Illustrations there is an engraving by Barak Longmate
Barak Longmate was an English genealogist and editor, heraldic engraver and publisher.-Life and work:Longmate was born in 1738, son of Barak and Elizabeth Longmate of St James's, Westminster in London. He engraved some topographical drawings, but was more distinguished as an heraldic engraver...
of a profile of Wray cut out in paper by his wife, said to be a good likeness, and a copy of a profile in bronze executed in Rome by G. Pozzo in 1726. His library was presented by his widow to Charterhouse in 1785, and a Catalogue was printed in 1790.
In 1830 James Falconar published a work entitled The Secret Revealed, in which he made out a case for the identification of Wray as Junius
Identity of Junius
Junius was the pseudonym of a writer who contributed a series of political letters to the Public Advertiser, from 21 January 1769 to 21 January 1772 as well as several other London newspapers such as the London Evening Post....
WorksThough Wray wrote much, he published little in his lifetime. He contributed three papers to the first two volumes of Archæologia on classical antiquities. After his death George Hardinge compiled a memoir to accompany a collection of his verses and correspondence, which he published in 1817 in the first volume of ‘Literary Illustrations,’ with a dedication to Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke
Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke
Philip Yorke, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke KG, PC, FRS , known as Philip Yorke until 1790, was a British politician.-Background and education:...
Two sonnets to Wray by Thomas Edwards (1699–1757) appear in the later editions of Edwards's Canons of Criticism. Hardinge states that a sonnet by Richard Roderick
Richard Roderick was a British editor and poet.A native of Cambridgeshire, was admitted pensioner of Queens' College, Cambridge, on 20 Dec. 1728, and graduated B.A. in 1732. He subsequently became a fellow commoner of the college, and a grace was granted by the president and fellows for him to...
, printed in Robert Dodsley's ‘Collection of Poems’ (ed. 1775, ii. 321), and again in ‘Elegant Extracts,’ edited by Vicesimus Knox
Vicesimus Knox was an English essayist and minister. He was born December 8, 1752, at Newington Green, Middlesex. Knox was educated at St John's College, Oxford, took orders, and became Head Master of Tonbridge School. He published Essays Moral and Literary , and compiled the formerly well-known...
(ed. 1796, p. 838), is also addressed to Wray, but this has been doubted.