Florence Nightingale

Timeline, Part 1: 1788-1849

A genealogy

1788 Frances Smith ("Fanny"), FN's mother born. She is one of ten children born to an active liberal politician. The parents were Unitarians and fabulously wealthy. Frances said of her and her siblings that they never worked a day in their lives and just played and had fun. They all lived to be very old.
Frances "Fanny" Smith

Aunt Mai


1794 William Edward Shore ("W.E.N."), FN's father born. He assumed the name Nightingale to get his inheritance.
1798 Mary Shore, FN's aunt "Mai" (pronounced "my"), born. She marries Fanny's brother Mr. Samuel Smith. Their son, William Shore Smith (whom FN called "my boy Shore"), was the heir, after his mother, to the entailed land at Embley and Lea Hurst, in default of a son to Mr. Nightingale.
1816 FN's mother falls in love with James Sinclair. He has no income except his pay as a captain in the army. It is 400 pounds a year and her father decides that would never do and refuses to approve of marriage. By 1817 the affair was at an end.
1817 W.E.N. and Fanny engaged to be married.
1818 W.E.N. and Fanny married.
1818 Honeymoon in Europe.
1819 April 19, Frances Parthenope ("Pop") Nightingale, later Lady Verney, born in Naples, named after the old Greek settlement on the site of her birthplace.

Villa Colombaia


1820 May 12, FN born in Florence (Firenze), Italy, in the Villa Colombaia, near the Porta Romana.
Lea Hurst

The girls with W.E.N.

Embley Park

1821 The Nightingale family returns to England and tries to settle down in W.E.N.'s inherited property in Derbyshire. The Derby county property had an active lead smelter (1760-1935) which W.E.N. managed and owned. W.E.N. had a new house built for the family in the village of Lea and the the family lived there until 1823. The home was called Lea Hurst and served as a summer home to the Nightingales for the rest of FN's life.
1823 Family lives at Kynsham Court, Presteigne, in Herefordshire.
1825 The Nightingales move to a mansion named Embley Park in the parish of Wellow, in Hampshire. This is the site of FN's grave. This becomes the family's main home with Lea Hurst as a summer home.
W.E.N. begins to seriously educate the girls himself.
1837 February 7, God spoke to her at Embley; "God called her to His service" but she is not clear on how to "serve" Him.
September, the family travels to Europe while Embley is being remodeled. She meets Mary Clarke ("Clarkey") in Paris.
"There is no part of my life, upon which I can look back without pain." 1839 April, the Family returns to England.
June, the girls, Flo and Parthe and two cousins from the Nicholson family are presented at Queen Victoria's birthday party.
September, the family takes up residence at Embley.

Florence and Parthenope
1840 Aunt Mai tries to arrange math lessons for Flo but Fanny resists. Ladies don't need math.
1842 FN meets Richard Monckton Milnes.
1844 FN asks Dr. Howe (husband of Julia Ward Howe, author of Battle Hymn of the Republic) at Lea Hurst if it would be ok to "devote herself to works of charity in hospitals and elsewhere as Catholic sisters do?"
Cousin Henry Nicholson proposes marriage, FN declines.

FN around 1845
1845 FN wants to work and train at Salisbury Infirmary nearby. Because of the reputation of nursing in that day, Mama and Parthe are horrified. A cultured lady of that day did not enter in hospital work. "To be a good nurse one must be a good woman, or one is truly nothing but a tinkling bell."
1846 Lord Ashley tells her about the government reports called Blue Books. She starts to become a self-taught expert on hospitals and sanitation.
1847 Spring, Richard Monckton Milnes wants her to marry him. She is approaching a mental breakdown. Selina ("Sigma") and Charles Bracebridge take her to Rome with them. She meets Elizabeth ("Liz") and Sidney Herbert.
1848 FN attends the opening of Sidney Herbert's Charmouth convalescent home and her expertise is recognized. "...Till a married woman can be in possession of her own property there can be no love or justice."

Richard Monckton Milnes

1849 After seven years of waiting, Milnes is given a final answer of no to his proposal of marriage. After much agonizing, she concludes that she could not have "work" of her own if she chooses to follow her heart into this society marriage. Marriage would destroy her chance of serving God's call.
1849 December, she accompanies the Bracebridges on a trip down the Nile in Egypt and Greece. She is near breakdown.

Part 2 of Timeline