S.F. Gray was the son of Samuel Gray, a London seedsman. He received no inheritance and, after failing to qualify for medicine, turned to medical and botanical writing. He married Elizabeth Forfeit in 1794 and moved to Walsall, Staffordshire, where he established an assay office, before moving back to London in 1800. He subsequently set up an apothecary business in Wapping, but this failed within a few years, after which time he seems to have maintained himself by writing and lecturing.
Gray wrote a Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia, published in 1818 with several subsequent editions. In 1819 he became co-editor of the London Medical Repository, to which he contributed many articles on medical, botanical, and other topics. In 1823 he published The Elements of Pharmacy and in 1828 The Operative Chemist, both practical reference works.
- A Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia : being a Treatise on Pharmacology in general . Underwood, London A new and improved Ed. 1821 Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf
- A Supplement to the Pharmacopoeia : being a Treatise on Pharmacology in general .Underwood, London 3rd Ed. 1824 Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf
The Natural Arrangement of British Plants
Gray's major text of interest today is The Natural Arrangement of British Plants, published in two volumes in 1821. The authorship is disputed, his son John Edward Gray later claiming to have done most of the work, though this was not supported by his grandson.The book itself is innovative, being the first British flora to employ Jussieu's natural system of plant classification, an improvement on the artificial classification of Linnaeus. Probably for this reason, it was not well received by conservative botanists of the day. The Natural Arrangement of British Plants also included substantial sections on fungi, then classed as cryptogamic plants, introducing many new genera, including Auriscalpium, Coltricia, Leccinum, and Steccherinum, that remain in current use.
Gray, Samuel Frederick (1821). A natural arrangement of British plants : according to their relations to each other as pointed out by Jussieu, De Candolle, Brown, &c. London: Baldwin. Retrieved 2 February 2014.