Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dingley, Thomas
DINGLEY or DINELEY, THOMAS (d. 1695), antiquary, was the son and heir of Thomas Dingley, controller of customs at Southampton and the representative of a family of some position in the place (Her. Visit. of Hampshire, made in 1622). He was born about the middle of the seventeenth century, and, as he himself tells us, educated by James Shirley, the dramatist, who for some years kept a school in Whitefriars, London. In 1670 he was admitted a student of Gray's Inn (Adm. Book, 6 Aug.), but does not appear to have pursued his studies very regularly, as in the following year he became one of the suite of Sir George Downing, then returning as ambassador to the States-General of the United Provinces. He has left in manuscript a journal of his ‘Travails through the Low Countreys, Anno Domini 1674,’ illustrated by some spirited sketches in pen and ink of the places he visited. Subsequently he made a tour in France, and wrote a similar record of his journey, copiously illustrated. In 1680 he visited Ireland, perhaps in a military capacity, and the account of what he there saw, and his observations on the history of the country, were published in 1870, as a reprint from the pages of the journal of the Kilkenny and South-east of Ireland Archæological Society. The manuscripts of all these accounts of travel are in the possession of Sir F. S. Winnington at Stanford Court, Worcestershire. Henry Somerset, first duke of Beaufort, the lord president of the Principality, took Dingley with him in 1684 on an official progress through Wales. While thus engaged, Dingley was made an honorary freeman of the boroughs of Brecknock and Monmouth, and employed his pen and pencil with great industry and good effect. The manuscript of his journal is in the possession of the duke. Part of it, under the title of ‘Notitia Cambro-Britannica,’ was edited by Mr. Charles Baker in 1864, and printed for private circulation by the Duke of Beaufort. A reprint of the whole was privately issued in 1888.
Dingley lived much at Dilwyn in Herefordshire, and some fragments in his handwriting are to be seen in the register of that parish, but he was evidently a man of active habits and fond of travel. The ‘History from Marble,’ a collection of epitaphs, church notes, and sketches of domestic and other buildings (published by the Camd. Soc. 1867–1868), shows that he was well acquainted with most of the midland and western counties, and, from the administration of his effects, granted in May 1695, we learn that he was at Louvain in Flanders when death overtook him. Dingley's notes and sketches are extremely valuable, and were known to Nash and Theophilus Jones, who made use of them in their respective histories of Worcestershire and Brecon. The manuscript is in the possession of Sir F. S. Winnington at Stanford Court. There seems to be no doubt that Dingley's collections formed the groundwork of Rawlinson's ‘History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Hereford,’ and they are certainly entitled to rank not far below the ‘Funerall Monuments’ of John Weever in interest and importance.[Introduction and postscript to Hist. from Marble, Camd. Soc., published 1867–8; Herald and Genealogist, vi., Hist. MSS. Comm. 1st Rep. 53–4; Gent. Mag. new ser. xliii. 45.]