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NIGHTINGALE, JOSEPH (1775–1824), miscellaneous writer, was born at Chowbent, in the chapelry of Atherton, parish of Leigh, Lancashire, on 26 Oct. 1775. He became a Wesleyan methodist in 1796, and acted occasionally as a local preacher, but never entered the methodist ministry, and ceased to be a member in 1804. For some time he was master of a school at Macclesfield, Cheshire, but came to London in 1805, at the suggestion of William Smyth (1765–1849) [q. v.], afterwards professor of modern history at Cambridge. By this time he was a unitarian. He ranked as a minister of that body, preaching his first sermon on 8 June 1806 at Parliament Street Chapel, Bishopsgate, but he never held any pastoral charge, and supported himself chiefly by his pen. After the publication of his ‘Portraiture of Methodism’ (1807) he was exposed to much criticism. An article in the ‘New Annual Register’ for 1807 characterised him as ‘a knave;’ he brought an action for libel against John Stockdale, the publisher, and recovered 200l. damages on 11 March 1809. In 1824 he was again received into membership by the methodist body. In private life ‘he was of a kind disposition, lively imagination, and possessed a cheerfulness that never deserted him.’ This description is confirmed by his portrait prefixed to his ‘Stenography.’ He died in London on 9 Aug. 1824, and was buried at Bunhill Fields. He married, on 17 Nov. 1799, Margaret Goostry, and had four children; his son, Joseph Sargent Nightingale, became an independent minister.

His works extend to about fifty volumes; those on topography have much merit. Among them are: 1. ‘Elegiac Thoughts on the Death of Rev. David Simpson,’ Manchester, 1797. 2. ‘The Election, a Satirical Drama,’ Stockport, 1804. 3. ‘A Portraiture of Methodism,’ 1807, 8vo. 4. ‘Nightingale versus Stockdale,’ &c. [1809], 8vo. 5. ‘A Guide to the Watering Places,’ 1811. 6. ‘A Letter to a Friend, containing a Comparative View of the Two Systems of Shorthand, respectively invented by Mr. Byrom and Dr. Mavor,’ 1811, 8vo. 7. ‘A Portraiture of the Roman Catholic Religion,’ 1812, 8vo. 8. ‘Accounts of the Counties of Stafford, Somerset, and Salop,’ 1813, 3 vols., forming a continuation of the ‘Beauties of England and Wales,’ by E. W. Brayley (1773–1854) [q. v.] 9. ‘Surveys of the City of London and the City of Westminster,’ 1814–15, 4 vols. 10. ‘English Topography, consisting of Accounts of the several Counties of England and Wales,’ 1816, 4to. 11. ‘The Bazaar, its Origin, Nature, &c., considered as a Branch of Political Economy,’ 1816, 8vo. 12. ‘History and Antiquities of the Parochial Church of Saviour, Southwark,’ 1818, 4to. 13. ‘Memoirs of Caroline, Queen of England,’ 1820– 1822, 8vo, 3 vols. 14. ‘An Historical Account of Kenilworth Castle,’ &c., 1821, 8vo. 15. ‘The Religions and Religious Ceremonies of all Nations faithfully and impartially described,’ &c., 1821, 12mo (a careful compilation). 16. ‘Trial of Queen Caroline,’ 1822, 3 vols. 17. ‘An Impartial View of the Life and Administration of the late Marquis of Londonderry,’ 1822, 8vo. 18. ‘Mock Heroics on Snuff, Tobacco, and Gin,’ published under the pseudonym of J. Elagnitin, 1822, 8vo. 19. ‘The Ladies' Grammar,’ 1822, 12mo. 20. ‘Rational Stenography, or Shorthand made Easy … founded on … Byrom,’ &c., 1823, 12mo. 21. ‘Historical Details and Tracts concerning the Storekeeper-General's Office.’ 22. ‘The Portable Cyclopædia.’ 23. ‘Report of the Trial of Thistlewood.’ 24. ‘The Political Repository and Magazine.’ 25. ‘A Natural History of British Singing Birds.’ 26. ‘The Juvenile Muse, original Stories in Verse.’ 27. ‘A Grammar of Christian Theology.’ He contributed frequently to early volumes of the ‘Monthly Repository.’

[Biogr. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816; Gent. Mag. 1824, pt. ii. p. 568; Westby-Gibson's Bibliography of Shorthand, 1887, p. 142; prefaces of his books; information from his son and from the Rev. A. Gordon.]

C. W. S.