Singer, Joseph Henderson (1786–1866), Church of Ireland bishop of Meath, was born in October 1786 at Annadale, Co. Dublin, youngest son of James Singer, deputy commissary general in Ireland, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James Henderson; they had at least one other son and at least one daughter. His mother's family was descended from David Cairnes (qv). Joseph Singer was educated at TCD, from which he graduated BA and as gold medallist (1806). He was elected to fellowship (1810) and received an MA (1811) and the degrees of BD and DD (1825). He was senior lecturer in the college (1840–43, 1849–50), professor of modern history (1840–50), and regius professor of divinity (1850–52). A successful tutor and lecturer, Singer was elected a member of the RIA (1813) and served as its secretary for some years.
However, it was his preaching, in college and as chaplain to the Magdalen Asylum, Dublin, that was particularly influential. As a leading figure in the evangelical section of the Church of Ireland, Singer was a member of the Church Missionary Society and of its Irish offshoot, the Hibernian CMS; his organising ability and inspiring sermons influenced many young men who became clergymen. He gave private lectures on pastoral theology years before the subject was introduced into the divinity syllabus, and he and Caesar Otway (qv) collaborated in 1825 in establishing the first periodical to be associated with the Church of Ireland, the Christian Examiner, which became well known, especially for pieces by William Carleton (qv).
In 1850 Singer resigned his fellowship and accepted the college living of Raymoghy, Co. Donegal, which he held along with his professorship. He was archdeacon of Raphoe 1851–2. Preferment in the church might have been swifter but for Singer's known opposition to the government's preferred solution to the Irish education question; he strongly advocated the use of the Bible in education, and supported the Church Education Society and its schools, rather than the national board. However, during Lord Derby's (qv) administration Singer was appointed (September 1852) bishop of Meath, and a member of the Irish privy council. He died 16 July 1866 at Dundrum House, Dublin, and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin. Newspaper reports suggested that he died worth £100,000; J. B. Leslie (qv) notes that the estate disposed of in his will was valued at just over £25,000.
Singer, like many of his contemporaries, was permitted to circumvent college regulations on the celibacy of fellows, and married (1822) Mary Crofton (d. 1869), whose father, Henry Crofton, was chaplain at Kilmainham hospital. They had six sons (three of whom predeceased their father) and three daughters.