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Herbert Branston Gray DD (21 April 1851 – 5 April 1929) was an English clergyman and schoolmaster. He was Headmaster and later Warden of Bradfield College and Chairman of the Headmasters' Conference for the year 1900.

Born at Putney, Gray was the younger son of Thomas Gray, of St Peter's, Kent, in the Isle of Thanet, a business man in the City of London, by his marriage to Emily Mary Heath[1] at Wandsworth in 1849.[2] He was educated at Winchester and Queen's College, Oxford. In 1877 he was ordained and became an assistant master at Westminster School before being appointed as Headmaster at Bradfield College in 1880.[3] In 1881 Gray established Bradfield's tradition of Greek plays, when as headmaster he arranged for the first such play, Alcestis, to be performed to raise money for the school at a time of financial hardship. Gray was inspired by the performance of Agamemnon at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1880, directed by F. R. Benson. He successfully invited Benson to manage the Bradfield play, and Benson played Apollo himself.[1][4]

In 1882 Gray married Selina Marriott at Sleaford, Lincolnshire.[5]

By 1898 Gray had the title at Bradfield of "Warden and Chairman of Council", meaning that he was in charge of the school's governance and not managing its teaching from day to day.[6] In 1900, he was chairman of the Headmasters' Conference, and the annual conference was held at Bradfield.[7]

In 1903 Gray was a Member of the Moseley Educational Commission to the United States.[8] In his The Public Schools and the Empire (1913), he recommended that scholarship funding and the competitive system needed to be reformed and that "the cult of sport" should be eliminated.[9]

At the time of his death Gray was Vicar of Lynton, Devon. He left a widow, Selina Gray, and an estate valed at £6,426.[10]

Selected publicationsEdit

  • Herbert Branston Gray, Modern Laodiceans, and other sermons (Rivingtons, 1883)
  • Herbert Branston Gray, Men of Like Passions: Being Characters of Some Bible Heroes and Other Sermons Preached to Bradfield Boys (Longmans, Green, & Company, 1894)
  • Herbert Branston Gray, "Report of the Reverend Herbert Branston Gray" in Reports of the Mosely Educational Commission to the United States of America (London: Co-operative Printing Society Limited, 1904)
  • Herbert Branston Gray, The Public Schools and the Empire (Michigan: University of Michigan, 1913)
  • Herbert Branston Gray DD, The Crossways: the Reform of Secondary Education (1913)
  • Herbert Branston Gray DD, America at School and at Work (London: Nisbet, 1918)


  1. ^ a b G. S. Freeman, revised by M. C. Curthoys, Gray, Herbert Branston (1851–1929) in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online, (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Gray, Thomas & Heath, Emily Mary" in Register of Marriages for Wandsworth Registration District, vol. 4 (1849), p. 563
  3. ^ "Herbert Branston Gray (1851-1929)" in John Telford, The New Methodist Hymn-book Illustrated: In History and Experience (1934), p. 395
  4. ^ Michael Dobson, Shakespeare and Amateur Performance: A Cultural History, p. 166
  5. ^ "Gray Herbert Branston & Marritt Selina" in Register of Marriages for the Sleaford Registration District, vol 7a (1882), p. 827
  6. ^ The Bradfield College register: corrected to May, 1898 (St Andrew's College, Bradfield, 1898), p. 6
  7. ^ "The Resolutions of Recent Conferences" in The School World: A Monthly Magazine of Educational Work and Progress, Vol. 3 (Macmillan and Company, 1901) p. 64: "THE last annual meeting of the Headmasters' Conference was held at Bradfield College, the Rev. Dr. H. B. Gray presiding."
  8. ^ The Review of Reviews, Volume 48 (1913), p. 25
  9. ^ Wendy Roberta Katz, Rider Haggard and the Fiction of Empire (2010), p. 23
  10. ^ "GRAY the reverend Herbert Branston" in Probate Index for 1929 online at, accessed 1 April 2019