William B.L. Grant was educated as a medical missionary at Marischal College, Aberdeen, during 1849-1853, obtaining the degrees Master of Arts (MA) and Bachelor of Medicine (MB), followed by an honorary Doctor of Medicine (MD) in 1854. He visited Natal during 1854-1856 for health reasons and during his stay collected plants, birds and insects (mainly butterflies) to the extent that his illness allowed. His plant collection was presented to Kew Gardens, London, the next year. The plant species Crotalaria grantiana, Mariscus grantii and Isoglossa grantii were named after him.