Born into a lower-class family in Lynn, Massachusetts, he managed to build his own business and rise through the state"s political ranks, becoming the richest man in New England, and in the eyes of many the richest man in all of America. Prior to the War of 1812, William Gray had the largest private fleet in the United States with 60 square-rigged vessels. Gray first served as a state senator, before becoming the ninth Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, serving from 1810 to 1812.
Elizabeth was a pioneer in philanthropy, volunteering a significant portion of her time to helping the poorest citizens of Boston.
He owned Gray"s Wharf in Charlestown. In Boston "he lived on Summer Street, in the mansion previously occupied by Governor Sullivan."
Elizabeth and William"s son, Francis Calley Gray, was also a politician.
In 1820, he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.
Married Elizabeth Chipman, March 29, 1782, 10 children.