William Nightingale

William Edward Nightingale (1794–1874) was a noted English Unitarian and the father of Florence Nightingale, "the lady with the lamp".


William Nightingale (known also as W.E.N.) was born William Edward Shore in 1794. His father was William Shore. His mother was Mary née Evans (who died in 1853 at Tapton House, Sheffield). She was the niece of one Peter Nightingale, a lead mining entrepreneur, under the terms of whose will William Shore inherited his estate Lea Hurst in Derbyshire, but also assumed the name and arms of Nightingale in 1815. He was appointed Sheriff of Hampshire in 1828.[1] He had two sisters, Anne and Mary.

By his early twenties, William Nightingale had an income of £8,000, and as a result, he was very wealthy and liked to indulge in activities such as hunting and shooting. As well as Lea Hurst, he also owned Embley Park, an estate in Hampshire.

In 1817, when he was 23 and she 29, he married Frances "Fanny" Smith (1789–1880), from Parndon in Essex, daughter of the Whig M.P. William Smith, a noted abolitionist. They had two daughters, both born while the family was on the Grand Tour of what would later become Italy. The elder, Parthenope Nightingale, was born in Naples and named after the city's Greek title. The younger was Florence Nightingale, best known for her nursing career but also notable in the field of statistics.

Interest in politics

William Nightingale had a keen interest in politics, and in 1829, he was appointed as the High Sheriff of Hampshire. In the summer months of 1834, he stood for parliament as a Whig candidate for Andover. He supported the Reform Bill, and opposed any form of bribery for the encouragement of the electors. His views cost him the election, which left him shocked. As a result, he resolved never to be persuaded into political life again.[2]

In 1838 he took his family on tour in Europe. In Paris he was introduced to Mary Elizabeth Clarke, an English-born salon hostess. "Clarkey" generally rejected female company and spent her time with male intellectuals, but she made an exception in the case of the Nightingale family. She and Florence were to remain close friends for 40 years despite their 27-year age difference.[3]


  1. "Florence Nightingale (1820 — 1910)". Retrieved 2012-02-18.
  2. http://lifeandtimesofflorencenightingale.wordpress.com/family-history/shore/
  3. Cromwell, Judith Lissauer (2013). Florence Nightingale, feminist. Jefferson, NC [u.a.]: McFarland et Company. p. 28. ISBN 0786470925.
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