William Grey was born in England in 1819 and educated at Oxford University where, among other subjects, he studied church architecture. After being ordained a Church of England priest by the Bishop of Salisbury he became curate of the towns of Alington and Amesbury in the county of Wiltshire in the southwest of England.
In 1848 he moved to Newfoundland to serve as secretary to Edward Feild, the Anglican Bishop of the colony. In the following year Grey requested permission to start a mission on the Labrador coast but Feild, needing his services, refused and instead appointed him the diocesan architect. In 1850 he moved to Portugal Cove where he designed and constructed the church parsonage.
Because of his wife's poor health he returned to England in 1853 but was back in the colony by 1857 to act as Feild's secretary once again. During this last visit Grey designed the churches at Battle Harbour and Tilt Cove. He eventually returned to England and died in Exeter in 1872.
Apparently, Grey had made sketches depicting Newfoundland scenes and architecture during his first stay in Newfoundland and these he added to in 1857. It was these drawings that were published in 1858 in his Sketches of Newfoundland and Labrador.