Singleton was born in London on 19 October 1766, of unknown parentage. His father died when he was young, and he was brought up by his uncle, William, a painter of miniatures. Precociously talented, Singleton exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1780 a drawing he had done when he was only ten. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1783, winning a silver medal in 1784 and a gold medal in 1788. He exhibited at the Royal Academy first in 1784 and every year thereafter until his death; he also exhibited at the British Institution every year from its founding in 1806 until 1839.
Singleton was not only prolific but exceptionally versatile. He was noted for battle scenes, and also painted religious, mythological, historical, Shakespearean, and other literary and theatrical subjects, many of them large and many of them subsequently engraved. Later he specialized more in sentimental, moral, and literary genre scenes, almost entirely destined for the engraver. He was also a book illustrator and a portraitist of some distinction. He was unsuccessful as a candidate for an Associateship of the Royal Academy in 1807, and did not allow his name to go forward again. He died, unmarried, in Kensington on 15 September 1839.
[Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 250-251.]
Hayes, John. British Paintings of the Sixteenth through Nineteenth Centuries. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 250-251.