sketcher, architect and Royal Engineer, was born in England on 1 January 1826 and educated at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. Commissioned second lieutenant in December 1843, he then attended the Royal Engineers’ establishment at Chatham for a course of professional instruction. After service in Ireland he was posted to Gibraltar in 1846 where he made his mark as a competent officer and an innovative engineer. Shortly after his return to England in 1850 Wray, together with lieutenants Crossman and Du Cane , was selected to command a company of Royal Engineers who were being sent out to Western Australia to assist with the construction of the new convict establishment.
They arrived at Fremantle in the Anna Robertson on 18 December 1851 and Captain Wray was put in charge of the construction of the prison which had been begun by the comptroller-general of convicts, Captain E.Y.W. Henderson . The whole complex, which could accommodate 853 men, was not finished until 1858 and Wray undoubtedly designed many of its details and felt a proprietorial interest in it. Two of his watercolour views of the completed building, Convict Prison, Fremantle and Officers Quarters and Guard Room. Convict Prison Fremantle W Australia , dated 26 March 1859 on the back, are in the National Library.
Although his superior appears to have designed the major buildings, many of the minor architectural and engineering works were designed by Wray, including roads, bridges, jetties and a recycled sewage system, based on a model advocated by Prince Albert, which fertilised the prison gardens. In February 1856 Henderson was given leave to return to England and Wray was installed as acting comptroller-general until his return in January 1858. The design of the lunatic asylum associated with the prison and that for a new Government House at Perth were drawn up in the Royal Engineers’ Office at this time and Wray apparently assisted Henderson with both, Richard Roach Jewell being responsible for the design of the interior fittings for Government House in the early 1860s after they had left the colony.
An ink and watercolour drawing previously attributed to Du Cane, Bridge over the River Swan at Guildford, Western Australia (1 March 1859, NLA), has been re-attributed to Wray by Chapman. He also developed drawings after sketches by an otherwise unknown naval surgeon, Robert Ward Clark. Wray’s signed Fremantle, from Gage’s Road (NLA) – a topographical drawing which labels its buildings and major landscape features ('Commissariat Store’, 'Convict Prison’, 'The Entrance to the River’, and so on) – is inscribed 'from a sketch by Dr. R.W. Clarke RN’. So is the unsigned pencil drawing Government House, Perth, Western Australia (NLA), convincingly attributed to Wray since, like the Fremantle prison and landscape views, it carries a verso inscription and the date, 26 March 1859. All must have been done in England. Preceded by his wife (Mary?) and their only surviving child, Wray left the colony in the Nile on 4 February 1858.
Following a tour of duty with a boundary surveying commission in Central America in 1859-61, Wray returned to England and became involved in the design and construction of the Royal Engineers’ camp buildings at Hythe. He was attached to the Royal Marines and sent to Japan in 1863 where he did survey and reconnaissance work for the navy. In Yokohama he produced designs for the legislative and consular buildings. Back at England in 1866 he was appointed superintendent of the architectural course of instruction at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. He held the position for eight years, during which time he compiled The Theory and Practice of Construction , a standard text for Royal Engineer officers for the next twenty years.
From Chatham Lieutenant-Colonel Wray was posted to Malta, in command of the Royal Engineers who were rebuilding the defences of the island, and once again became involved in a diverse programme of public works, including camp and barrack accommodation, water supply and sewerage works. In recognition of his achievements in Malta he was promoted and awarded the CMG. Colonel Wray was transferred to Ireland in 1879, where his work was largely administrative – experience which led to his appointment as lieutenant-governor of Jersey after he retired from the army in 1887. He was said to have filled this final five-year role with distinction, not only because he was a successful administrator but also because of the 'warm informality’ which he and his wife brought to the social aspects of the position. Lieutenant-General Wray died at Bournemouth on 6 April 1900, aged seventy-four.
Staff WriterNote: Accredited to Robert Campbell in DAA. Campbell denies this (pers. comm. w RK, Nov 15, 2006).