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Records of the Ray Club, 1837 - 1976

Reference Code: GBR/0265/UA/SOC.89

Scope and Contents

From the Management Group:

The category - Student administration and support records - comprises records relating to student admissions at all levels, graduate students, visiting senior scholars, student careers advice and welfare, together with the records of clubs and societies.


  • Creation: 1837 - 1976


Conditions Governing Access

From the Management Group:

The University Archives are generally freely available to the holder of a reader's ticket for the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. Restrictions on access are imposed on certain categories of sensitive record: financial, governmental and personal, by order of the originating body or under data protection legislation. Access information, including opening hours and how to obtain a reader's ticket, appears as part of the Library's web site (

Biographical / Historical

The club was founded on 11 March 1837 at the instigation of Charles Cardale Babington (1808-1895, then a student at St John's College), John James Smith (Gonville and Caius College), and William Haughton Stokes (Gonville and Caius College). Babington, club secretary for fifty-five years, viewed the club as the natural successor to the botanical and zoological discussions that John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861) had encouraged by hosting Friday evening soirées for his students. Henslow was also of St. John's College, and he and Babington successively held the position of professor of botany (1826-61 and 1861-95 respectively). The name of the club refers to John Ray (1627-1705), naturalist and theologian. It drew its membership primarily, though not exclusively, from senior members. It was self-selecting and limited in number. There were numerous notable members including geologist Adam Sedgwick, biblical scholar and theologian Fenton John Anthony Hort , and physicists George Gabriel Stokes and Joseph John Thomson (all of Trinity College).


1 linear metre(s) (1 metre) : paper

Language of Materials


Former / Other Reference


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The records were transferred to the University Archives from the Manuscripts Department on 5 March 2008. The bulk of the material was presented by Dr. David Edwin Coombe of Christ's College to the Manuscripts Department in 1989. SOC.89.8 was found in the papers of Sir Harry Godwin by Richard Gilbert West (his successor as professor of botany) who presented them to the Manuscripts Department later in 1989. Both transfers were given the classmark Ms.Add.8834.

Related Materials

Additional items are available in the Rare Books Department, Cambridge University Library: Printed papers (classmark: Cambridge Papers J 7330). Charles Cardale Babington, The Ray Club : address to the members (Cambridge, 1868) (Classmark: Cam.c.868.46). Charles Cardale Babington, Memorials journal and botanical correspondence of Charles Cardale Babington (Macmillan and Bowes; Cambridge, 1897) (Classmark: Cam.c.897.7) Transcriptions of three letters referring to the Ray Club are to be found in the Darwin Correspondence website at (letter numbers: 406, 1911 and 2548).


The online catalogue entry was completed in March 2008.


Ray Club

Finding aid date

2007-12-21 14:09:29+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom