by Robert Brown
© Oxford University Press 2004 All rights reserved
Gray, Peter (1807/8-1887), actuary and mathematician, was born at Aberdeen. Little is known about his origins, but he was educated at Gordon's Hospital (subsequently Gordon's College) and at Aberdeen University for two years. He developed a passion for mathematics and, in order to assist the work of a friend, took a special interest in the study of life contingencies. This led to honorary membership of the Institute of Actuaries, and numerous contributions to its journal. In 1851 he undertook the task of organizing and preparing for publication, together with Henry Ambrose Smith and William Orchard, assurance and annuity tables issued by the Institute of Actuaries: these used demographic data from the Carlisle bills of mortality, 1778-88, compiled by Dr John Heysham. Gray also constructed an extensive table of values of log 10 for students of the institute. In 1865 he published further tables dealing with the formulation of logarithms and antilogarithms.
A fellow of the Royal Astronomical and Royal Microscopical societies, Gray was also distinguished for his knowledge of optics and applied mechanics. He apparently never married. He died at 53 Fairmead Road, Holloway, London, on 17 January 1887, survived by his sister, Susannah Nash Gray.
Journal of the Institute of Actuaries, 26/1 (1887), 301-2, 406
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 48 (1887-8), 163-5
C. Walford, The insurance cyclopaedia, 6 vols. (1871-80)
Boase, Mod. Eng. biog.
The life of John Heysham ... and his correspondence with Mr Joshua Milne relative to the Carlisle bills of mortality, ed. H. Lonsdale (1870)
Institute of Actuaries, London, MSS
Wealth at death
£2216 15s. 5d.: probate, 16 Feb 1887, CGPLA Eng. & Wales
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