Open main menu


NIGHTINGALL, Sir MILES (1768–1839), lieutenant-general, born 25 Dec. 1768, entered the army 4 April 1787 as ensign, 52nd foot,and joined that regiment at Madras, from Chatham, in July 1788. He served with the grenadier company at the capture of Dindigul, and the siege of Palicatcherry in 1790, and afterwards was brigade-major of the 1st brigade of Lord Cornwallis's army at the siege of Bangalore, the capture of the hill-forts of Severndroog and Ostradroog, and the operations before Seringapatam. In August 1793 he was at the taking of Pondicherry, where his knowledge of French led to his appointment as brigade-major. Having been promoted to a company in the 125th foot, in Septemher 1794, he returned home: was aide-de-camp to Lord Cornwallis [see Cornwallis, Charles, Marquis], then commanding the eastern district; obtained a majority in the 121st; was appointed brigade-major in the eastern district, and purchased a lieutenant-colonelcy in the 119th foot. He volunteered for the West Indies, and was placed in command of the old 92nd, with which he was present at the capture of Trinidad in 1797; was extra-aide-de-camp to Sir Ralph Abercromby [q.v.] at Porto Rico, and was afterwards made inspector of foreign corps, which appointment he resigned on account of ill-health. He returned home in October 1797; was transferred as lieutenant-colonel to the 38th foot; went to San Domingo in December as adjutant-general with Brigadier-genenl Maitland [see Maitland, Sir Thomas]; arranged the evactuation of Port-au-Prince with M. Herier, the agent of Toussaint l'Ouverture, and was sent home with despatches. Cornwallis. then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, asked for Nightingall to be sent over to command one of the battalions of light companies under Major-general (afterwards Sir) John Moore (Cornwallis Corresp. ii. 415). He became aide-de-camp to Cornwallis, and commanded the 4th battalion of light infantry. He again accompanied Major-general Maitland to the West Indies and America, and on his return was appointed assistant adjutant-general of the forces encamped on Barham Down, near Canterbury, which he accompanied to the Helder. He was present in the act of 2 Sept. and 19 Oct. 1799, but had to turn home through ill-health. He was deputy adjutant-general to Maitland in the expedition to Quiberon in 1800; brought home the despatches from Isle Houat; and was assistant quartermaster-general of the eastern district in June to October 1801. He was on the staff of Lord Cornwallis when the latter went to France as ambassador extraordinary to conclude the peace of Amiens in 1802; and was afterwards transferred to the 51st, and appointed quartermaster-general of the king's troops in Bengal.

Nightingall arrived in Calcutta in August, and became brevet-colonel 25 Sept. 1803. He was with the army under Lord Lake [see Lake, Gerald, first Viscount Lake] at Agra and Leswarree, and afterwards returned to Calcutta, and was military secretary to Lord Cornwallis from his arrival until his death at Ghazipore, 17 Oct. 1805, after which Nightingall reverted to the duties of quartermaster-general. In February 1807 he returned home. At the end of that year he was appointed to a brigade in the secret expedition under Major-general Brent Spencer, which went to Cadiz, and afterwards joined Sir Arthur Wellesley's force in Portugal. He commanded a brigade, consisting of the 29th and S2nd regiments, at Roliça (Roleio) and Vimiero. In December 1808 he was appointed governor and commander-chief in New South Wales, hut a serious illness obliged him to give up the appointment. He held brigade commands at Hythe and Dover in 1809-10. He became a major-general 26 July 1810; joined the army the Peninsula in Jonuary 1811, and was appointed to a brigade, consisting of the 24th, 42nd, and 79th regiments, in the 1st division. It was known as the 'highland brigade’ or the ‘brigade of the line,’ the rest of the division consisting of guards and Germans. He commanded the 1st division at the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro, 6 May 1811, where he was wounded in the head. He left the peninsular army at Elvas in July that year, having been appointed to a division in India; but before he could take up that post he was nominated by Lord Minto to the command-in-chief in Java, where he arrived in October 1813. He organised and commanded a couple of small expeditions against the pirate states of Bali and Boni in Macassar in April and May 1814 (see Colburn's United Serv. Mag. 1829). Having established British authority in the Celebes, he returned to Java in June 1814, and remained there until November 1815, when he proceeded to Bombay. He became a lieutenant-general 4 June 1814. He commanded the forces in Bombay, with a seat in council, from 6 Feb. 1816 until 1819, when he returned home overland. An account of his overland journey, by Captain John Hanson, was published in 1820.

Nightingall was made a K.C.B. 4 Jan. 1815. He had gold medals for Roleia, Vimiero, and Fuentes d'Onoro, and was colonel successively of the late 6th West India regiment and the 49th foot. He was returned to parliament for Eye, a pocket borough of the Cornwallis family, in 1820 and again in 1826. He died at Gloucester on 12 Sept. 1829, aged 61.

Nightingall married, at Richmond, Surrey, on 13 Aug. 1800, Florentia, daughter of Sir Lionel Darell, first baronet, and chairman of the East India Company.

[Philippart's Royal Military Calendar, 1820, vol. ii.; Cornwallis's Corresp. vols. ii. and iii.; Gurwood's Wellington Desp. iii. 53, 81, 92, 181, iv. 512, 796; Gent. Mag. 1829, pt. ii. pp. 463–465.]

H. M. C.