Select Nightingale Miscellany



Here are some Nightingale stories and accounts over the years:

The Nightingale


While I lingered away the latter half of May in Scotland, and the first half of June in northern England, and finally in London, intent on seeing the land leisurely and as the mood suited, the thought occurred to me that I was in danger of missing one of the chief pleasures I had promised myself on crossing the Atlantic, namely the hearing of the song of the nightingale. 

Hence, when on the 17th of June I found myself down among the copses near Haslemere on the borders of Surrey and Sussex and was told by an old farmer, to whose house I had been recommended by friends in London, that the season of the nightingale was over, I was a good deal disturbed.

"I think she be done singing now, I ain't heered her in some time, sir," said my farmer as we sat down to get acquainted with a mug of the hardest cider I ever attempted to drink.

"Too late!" I said in deep chagrin, "and I might have been here weeks ago."

"Yeas, sir, she be done now.  May is the time to hear her.   The cuckoo is done too, sir.  And you don't hear the nightingale after the cuckoo is gone."


The Nightingale Trust

The Nightingale Trust was founded in 1580 for the village of Kersey in Suffolk by the will of Robert Nightingale.  There are six trustees, two representative trustees appointed by the Parish Council and four co-opted trustees who must be residents of the village.  The income, mainly derived from garden allotment land, is distributed at Christmas to the elderly of the parish.  


The Church in Kneesworth, Cambridgeshire

The Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, erected in the 14th century, is a building of stone and flint, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles, south porch of the 15th century and an embattled western tower containing a clock and five bells cast by Milton Graye in 1650.  In the church are monuments to the Nightingale and Turpin families, including Jeffrey Nightingale, born in 1664, and Edward Nightingale, born in 1723.


Lea Hall in Derbyshire

The origins of Lea Hall are obscure, but it is fairly certain that Robert Alverley raised a chantry chapel a short way behind the house in the reign of King John.  In 1709 the house was bought by Thomas Nightingale, a local farmer who was very skilled in prospecting for lead.  Within a short period of time he owned the local smelting works and much of the land in the area.  During the next hundred years his family became one of the richest in Derbyshire.  In 1754 Thomas's son Peter added the Georgian facade to Lea Hall.  In 1796, the family moved elsewhere but continued to own the estate until 1922.


Florence Nightingale and the Crimean War


Although being female meant Florence Nightingale had to fight against the military authorities at every step, she went about reforming the hospital system.  With conditions which resulted in soldiers lying on bare floors surrounded by vermin and unhygenic operations taking place, it is not surprising that, when Nightingale first arrived in Scutari, diseases such as cholera and typhus were rife in the hospitals.  This meant that injured soldiers were seven times more likely to die from disease in hospital than on the battlefield.  Whilst in Turkey, Nightingale collected data and organized a record keeping system.  This information was then used as a tool to improve city and military hospitals.

Nightingales's knowledge of mathematics became evident when she used her collected data to calculate the mortality rate in the hospital.  These calculations showed that an improvement of the sanitary methods employed would result in a decrease in the number of deaths.  By February 1855 the mortality rate had dropped from 60 percent to 43 percent.   Through the establishment of a fresh water supply as well as using her own funds to buy fruit, vegetables and standard hospital equipment, the mortality rate in the spring had dropped further to 2.2 percent.



Samuel Nightingale of Providence, Rhode Island


Samuel Nightingale was the founder of the Nightingale family in Providence, Rhode Island.  The son of Joseph Nightingale, he was raised in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Early in life he was a clergyman.  He lived in Pomfret, Connecticut for a number of years and then settled in Providence in 1751.  He operated a distillery there, invested in mercantile ventures, and served for a time as a Justice of the Peace.

His eldest son Samuel was a prosperous Providence merchant, a youinger son Joseph an even more prosperous one as founder of the merchant partnership of Clark & Nightingale.


John Nightingale, Forty Niner

John Nightingale was a real forty-niner, having arrived in San Francisco from New Jersey in 1849. 

He settled with his wife and eight children in the Lower Haight/Hayes Valley area of San Francisco.  Although he didn't literally strike gold, he did amass a huge fortune by buying up properties and turning them over for profit years later.  He was a San Francisco alderman and was credited with selecting the site for City Hall (although the building itself was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake). 

John Nightingale’s own house at 301 Buchanan spanned the entire block of Haight between Buchanan and Webster. What is known as the Nightingale House today is the property that stood next door at 201 Buchanan.  This house was in fact John Nightingale’s wedding present to his daughter Florence when she married Hamilton Page in 1882. Florence and Hamilton Page sold the Nightingale House a year after her father’s death in 1912. 

John’s eldest son John practiced general medicine in San Francisco.  For ten years his office was at the corner of Stockton and Market before he built his own six story medical building at the corner of Market and Van Ness.




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