Henry Wray

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Henry Wray

Lieut-General Henry Wray (1826–1900) was a Royal Engineers officer whose last post before he retired was as Lieut-Governor of Jersey.

Military career

Henry Wray was born in Demerara, now Guyana on 1 January 1826. The son of Charles Wray, Chief Justice of Demerara, Wray graduated from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich as Second Lieutenant in 1843. Postings in Ireland and Gibraltar followed, and Wray's abilities as an engineer soon saw him promoted to First Lieutenant in 1846.

Married in 1848 to Mary Drinkwater, the daughter of eminent historian Thomas Drinkwater, Wray then moved back to Woolwich in 1850.

In 1851 he was selected to travel to Western Australia along with other married soldiers of 20th Company Royal Engineers. After arrival he was appointed as a magistrate to the colony, and given responsibility for the construction of the Convict Establishment (now Fremantle Prison). Wray personally designed many buildings, bridges and roads in the Perth area, and in April 1854 was promoted to rank of Second Captain. Around this time The Royal Engineers left to serve in the Crimean War, but Wray remained and was promoted to First Captain.

After Edmund Henderson's departure in 1856, Wray succeeded him as Acting Comptroller General of Convicts. After serving in the position for two years, he was described in a letter from the Governor of Western Australia Arthur Edward Kennedy as “a most exemplary and industrious officer who has for many months done the work of several”.

Return to England

He left Australia on 2 January 1858 to return to England. In 1860 he was commissioned to help determine the boundaries between the British Honduras (Belize) and Guatemala. This was a difficult undertaking that saw him injured several times by both nature and natives. By this time he had been promoted to the local rank of Major. After the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty, he was then posted to Japan with a company of sappers.

Wray returned to England in 1865 becoming Chief Royal Engineer at Chatham. He published several works on engineering that were to reform teaching methods in the field. After several years he became Chief Royal engineer in Malta, and was involved in several military and civil engineering projects before moving to Ireland in 1879 for 7 years.

Promoted to Major-General in 1882, Wray became Lieut-Governor of Jersey until his retirement in 1887. He died from pneumonia at Bournemouth on 6 April 1900, aged 75.


This article is taken from the Wikipedia biography of Henry Wray.

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