Vicary Gibbs Crawley, son of Rev Thomas William Crawley and his wife Hannah Elizabeth Crawley, was educated at Queen's College, University of Oxford, where he obtained the degree Bachelor of Arts (BA). He entered the British civil service as a clerk in the Exchequer and Audit Department in January 1892 and served there until his death in 1909. About 1907 he was sent to Pretoria in the Transvaal Colony to audit Army accounts. He collected plants around Pretoria, accompanied by his friend, Colonel Abdy, and added many rarities to the list of known species from the area. He also collected around Barberton, Nylstroom and on his last trip, Wolhuter's Kop (some 12 km west of Brits). During the last few months of his stay, in 1909, he collaborated with Joseph Burtt-Davy*, who was impressed by his knowledge of morphology and botanical terminology. They prepared a paper, "The families, genera and species of Pteridophyta of the Transvaal Province", describing the ferns and fern allies of the region. It was published, with Crawley as co-author, in the Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science (1909, pp. 455-482). The two also started on a paper describing the families and genera of Transvaal Monocotyledones, but it seems not to have been completed. His plant specimens went to the National Herbarium in Pretoria.
Crawley painted some hundreds of botanically accurate water-colour sketches of Transvaal plants, which he sent to a friend in England. He left Pretoria on 21 August 1909 and spent a day botanizing on Table Mountain before sailing for England on the 25th. He was a shy and intensely modest person and was not married. He died soon after his arrival in England.