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The Scottish Nation
Cumming


CUMMING, properly COMYN, or DE CUMYN, a surname derived originally from the ancient house of de Comines in France. Wyntoun (who wrote about 1420) absurdly states that the first of the name of Comyn in Scotland, a keeper of the royal chamber, acquired his designation from saying to all who knocked at the king’s door, “Cum in!” It is impossible to attribute to ignorance alone this exquisite blunder, as the antecedents of the noble family were too familiar to be utterly forgotten in that age, especially by the prior of Lochleven, any more than the fact that French had been the exclusive language of the court and nobles of Scotland for upwards of two centuries, during which period the family held sway. But they had been the vanquished party, and it was the fashion of that age to vilify the unfortunate. This incident shows how little reliance is to be placed on our earliest Scottish historians, especially where national or party prejudices are concerned. John count de Comyn in Normandy, descended from Charlemagne, on being appointed governor of the chief towns in that duchy, assumed the name of De Burgo. His eldest son, Hubert de Burgo, married Arlota, mother of William the Conqueror, and from their son Robert the noble house of Clanricarde in Ireland, and all the families of the name of De Burgh or Burke, in that kingdom, are said to derive their descent. In 1068, William the Conqueror, learning of an invasion on the part of the Danes, in conjunction with the disaffected English, aided by Malcolm the Fourth of Scotland, appointed Robert de Comyn governor of Northumberland, who by a rising of the natives was massacred with his whole garrison at Durham shortly after. The earliest mentioned in Scottish annals was William de Comyn. He had been educated for the church under Gaufred, bishop of Durham, sometime chancellor to Henry the First of England. He held the lands of Northallerton and others in England, and from Prince Henry, the son of King David, he obtained a grant of the estate of Linton-Roderick in Roxburghshire, which is said to have been the first place of settlement in North Britain of the powerful family of the Comyns. In 1133, he was, by David the First, nominated chancellor of Scotland. His name appears as such in some of the charters of that monarch. In 1142, he seized on the bishopric of Durham, under a grant from the empress Maude, but soon after resigned that see, reserving only certain of the episcopal estates for behoof of his nephew and heir, Richard. In the reigns of Malcolm the Fourth and William the Lion, the name of Richard de Comyn, appears among the witnesses to some of the charters of those monarchs. In the reign of the former, he was a man of great power and authority in Scotland, and by King William he was created “justiciar” of Scotland, as only what is now the northern part of the kingdom was then called. He married Hexilda, great-grand-daughter of King Duncan, and died about 1190.

      His son William was, in 1200, sent as envoy by William the Lion to congratulate King John on his succeeding to the throne of England. He was also engaged in several other embassies to the English court. He was sheriff of Forfar, and, like his father, also held the office of justiciary for Scotland, and various grants of land were made to him. He distinguished himself by putting down a rebellion of the native tribes under Guthred, of the family of Heth, otherwise MacWilliam, who had landed from Ireland, and whom he put to death. Through his marriage, in 1210, with Marjory, countess of Buchan in her own right, he became earl of Buchan. This was his second marriage, and his son by it, Alexander Comyn, succeeded him in the earldom, on his death in 1233, (see earldom of BUCHAN, ante). By his first wife (a lady whose name has not descended to us), William earl of Buchan had two sons, Richard and Walter. In 1230, Walter, who had become earl of Menteith in right of his wife, acquired the extensive lordship of Badenoch by a grant from Alexander the Second, (see BADENOCH, surname of, and MENTEITH, earl of,) and thus became the founder of the senior branch of the Comyns. He possessed large estates in the south of Scotland, and nearly caused a war between Alexander the Second and Henry the Third, by erecting two castles, one in Hermitage in Liddesdale and another in Galloway, without the consent of the king of England, to whom the suzerainty of these districts of right pertained. As he died without leaving heirs male of his body, all his possessions went to the descendants of his brother Richard. The son of the latter, John Comyn, who was the first of the name known as the “Red Comyn,” acted a conspicuous part during the minority of Alexander the Third. He was justiciary of Galloway, and joined the other barons who demanded security from Henry the Third of England, before they would allow his daughter the young queen of Scotland to go to London for her accouchement. In 1264, with John Baliol and Robert de Bruce, he led a body of Scots to the assistance of Henry against his rebellious barons. He died about 1274. William, his eldest son, appears to have married his cousin, the heiress of Menteith, but left no issue. John, the second son, known as the “Black Comyn,” became lord of Badenoch, and was named among the magnates of Scotland who settled the Norwegian marriage of the princess Margaret in 1281. In 1286, on the decease of Alexander the Third, he was chosen by a parliament which met at Scone, one of the six guardians or regents of Scotland, during the minority of the Maiden of Norway, his cousin, the earl of Buchan, being also one of them. On the death of the infant queen, the “Black Comyn” became one of the original candidates for the crown, as descended from King Duncan by the daughter of his son Donald-bane; and at the meeting of Edward the First with the competitors at Holywell-haugh, on 2d June 1291, he readily took the oaths offered to him, acknowledging Edward as feudal superior of Scotland. He afterwards, with the other competitors, the regents of the kingdom, and many other barons, swore fealty to the English king. After the election of Baliol to the vacant throne, he seems to have retired from public life. It is uncertain when he died, but he was alive in 1299. He married Marjory, sister of King John Baliol. Their son, John, also, like his grandfather, styled the “Red Comyn,” possessed the same right to the Scottish throne which was vested in Baliol himself, had the latter died without issue. He adhered to the English interest as long as Edward supported his kinsmen the Baliols, but when his insulting treatment of John Baliol drove the Scots nobles to arms, he joined the army which, in 1296, under the leadership of the earl of Buchan, invaded England, and carried fire and sword through the county of Cumberland. Soon after he was among the Scots nobles and knights who, with a strong force of followers, were admitted into the castle of Dunbar by the countess of March, (Marjory Comyn, daughter of Alexander, earl of Buchan,) and held in check the large army which Edward despatched under Warrene, earl of Surrey. After the battle of Dunbar, April 28, 1296, the castle surrendered to Edward himself. On this occasion Comyn was taken prisoner but was soon released. After the signal defeat of the English by Wallace at the bridge of Stirling, in 11th September 1297, Comyn joined the patriot army, and at the battle of Falkirk, July 22, 1298, he commanded the cavalry, but scarcely had the battle begun when the whole body under his command turned their horses’ heads, and shamelessly fled from the field. He afterwards threatened to impeach Wallace for treason for his conduct during the war, and that hero in consequence voluntarily resigned the office of governor of Scotland, on which Comyn and John de Soulis were chosen regents, and after some time Bruce earl of Carrick and Lamberton bishop of St. Andrews were associated with them in the government. IN 1300, when Edward again invaded Scotland, the earl of Buchan and John Comyn of Badenoch had an interview with that monarch, when they demanded that Baliol their lawful king should be permitted peaceably to reign over them, and that their estates, which had been unjustly bestowed upon the English nobles, should be restored. Edward treated these propositions with an unceremonious refusal; and, after declaring that they would defend themselves to the uttermost, the king and the Scottish barons parted in wrath. In 1302 he joined forces with Sir Simon Fraser of Tweeddale, and on the Muir of Roslin defeated the English in three battles in one day, the 25th February 1303. The English came up in three divisions, one after the other, each exceeding the Scots in number, and they were successively defeated as they advanced; the first under Sir John de Segrave, the English governor of Scotland; the second led by Sir Ralph de Manton, styled Ralph the Cofferer from his office as clerk of Edward’s wardrobe; and the third headed by Sir Robert de Neville. After that threefold victory he continued at the head of the patriots, with Sir Simon Fraser and Sir William Wallace, throughout the unequal and terrible struggle that ensued, thus nobly redeeming his character, which had been tarnished by his flying from the brunt of battle at Falkirk. Scotland having been again overrun by a fresh army under Edward in person, Comyn, Wallace, and Fraser, unable to make head against him, were driven into the wilds and fastnesses, where they still carried on a sort of guerilla war against the convoys of the English. Langtoft, the English historian, thus writes:

“The lorde of Badenauh, Freselle, and Walais,
Lived at Thieves’ law, ever robbing alle wayes.”

Edward is said at this time to have penetrated as far north as Cromdale, and to have staid some time in the castle of Lochindorb, then the chief stronghold of the Comyns. Stirling castle was almost the only fortress which remained in the hands of the Scots, and the regent Comyn, with the view of preventing a siege, attempted to defend the passage of the Forth against Edward, but his small force was routed and dispersed by the English; and on 9th February 1304, the earls of Pembroke and Ulster, with Sir Henry Percy, met Comyn at Strathurd (probably now Struthers) in Fife, and a negotiation took place, in which the late regent and his followers, after stipulating for the preservation of their lives, liberties, and lands, delivered themselves up, and agreed to the infliction of any pecuniary fine which the conqueror should impose. From this negotiation Wallace and some others were specially excepted. Comyn’s conduct in the subsequent revolution which seated his great rival Robert the Bruce on the throne, has already been referred to (See art. BRUCE, or DE BRUS, ante). It was he who was stabbed by Bruce before the high altar of the church of the Minorite Friars at Dumfries, and slain, with his uncle Sir Robert Comyn, by Bruce’s attendants, Lindsay and Kirkpatrick, on the 4th of February 1305-6. Besides his claim to the crown of Scotland, he was also allied by blood to the royal family of England having married Joan, sister and coheir of Aymer de Valance, earl of Pembroke, whose father was uterine brother of Henry the Third.

      John, his only son, died in 1325, without issue, and with him terminated the male line of the principal family. He had two sisters; one of whom, Joan, married the earl of Athol of the time, who obtained with her some small share of the vast domains of the once powerful family of the Comyns of Badenoch, but having revolted against Bruce, his estates were forfeited. The power of the Comyns was effectually broken after the battle of Inverury, 22d May 1308, in which King Robert the Bruce, although very ill at the time, took the field in person against the third earl of Buchan of the Comyn family, and defeated him and his followers with great slaughter. The name afterwards sunk into an obscurity from which it did not emerge for centuries.

      Mr. Carrick, in his ‘Life of Wallace,’ says that “while the Scots in the low country cried out against the ‘fause Cumyn’s kyn,’ their vassals in Badenoch and Lochaber re-echoed the charge, till the very name became cognominal with deceit;” so much so that, in those parts of the Highlands where their influence extended, there was a Gaelic proverb, the English of which was, that “while there are trees in a wood, there will be deceit in a Cumyn.”

      Seldom have the claims of Celtic traditionists been less happy than it that adopted by Logan (Clans, vol. ii. art. Clann Chuimein), to establish the existence of an extensive and powerful native clan Cumming in Badenoch, at a period before the reach of other record. The attempt rests on the circumstance that the second abbot of Icolmkill was named Cumine anno 597, and that the sixth abbot (living in 657) was Comineus Albus, as well as that the name Cumming occurs in local topography, and in one instance in connection with the prefix Kil or Cil so frequent in Scotch and Irish topography, viz., Killie-Cumming (Kil-Chuimein), the original name of Fort Augustus in Inverness-shire. This ecclesiastical word, (which however Logan and others assuming to be Celtic translate variously as a druidical circle, a grave, &c.) Is from the Latin cella, a cell, and exactly describes those edifices which, up to a later age than moderns are prepared to believe, served as places of devotion for the rude inhabitants of the country, which Henry of Huntingdon describes as “not built of stone but of wood, and covered with reeds as is the custom in Scotland,” and which under the same name are referred to by him as constructed even in his age in remote parts of England. They are not universally dedicated to saints, as has been supposed, but are frequently called after parties by whom they were erected or supported, and when the local topography of Britain shall have been better understood will be found to have as many Norman and Saxon terminations and compounds and founders as early British or Celtic. Kellet, the little cell, two localities in Bolton le Sands, Lancashire; Kelling (Kellina), another Romanesque diminutive having the same meaning, a parish in Norfolk, are examples under the variety Kel; and Kilgrant, the cell of Grant, or Powerstown, in Tipperary; Kildalkey, the cell De la key or of the rock, in Meath; Kilbarry, the cell of Barri or De Barri in Waterford; and among others kilconquhar, the cell with the quhair or choir, in Fife, under its more frequent form of Kil. It is therefore must natural that a similar rude edifice, constructed for devotion amongst their dependents in Badenoch by one of the Norman conquerors of that name, should be called after him Kil Cuimein or Killie-Cumming. The assumption of the badge of the cumin plant for the supposed clan, a plant that is only found in the region of Egypt, but which happens to be named in the Old Testament, is scarcely correct. It is rather the common sallow, a species of willow, that the Cummings have adopted as their clan badge, although Logan calls it the cumin plant.

      In the reign of Alexander the Third, as stated by Fordun, there were of the name in Scotland, three earls, Buchan, Menteith, and Athol, and one great feudal baron, Comyn lord of Strathbogie, with thirty knights all possessing lands. The chief of the clan was lord of Badenoch and Lochaber, and other extensive districts in the Highlands. Upwards of sixty belted knights were bound to follow his banner with all their vassals, and he made treaties with princes as a prince himself. One such compact with Lewellyn of Wales is preserved in Rymer’s Foedera.

      The Cummings, as the name is now spelled, are numerous in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray; but a considerable number changed their names to Farquharson, as being descended from Ferquhard, second son of Alexander the fourth designed of Altyre, who lived in the middle of the fifteenth century, in consequence of being prevented, for some reason, from burying their relatives in the family burial-place. It is from them that the Farquharsons of Balthog, Haughton, and others in the county of Aberdeen derive their descent.

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      From Sir Robert Comyn, younger son of John lord of Badenoch, who, (as already mentioned,) died about 1274, are descended the Cummings of Altyre, Logie Auchry, (one of whom in 1760 founded the village of Cuminestown in Aberdeenshire,) Relugas, &c. His son, Thomas Cumming, was, by an act of parliament held at Perth in 1320, excepted out of the forfeiture of the Cummings, from which it would seem that he was never engaged in the Baliol interest. His eldest son, Dir Richard Cumming, was in high favour with David the second, by whom he was, in 1368, sent on an embassy to the court of England to negotiate affairs of state, for which he got a safe conduct from King Edward the Third. He received two charters from King David, the one dated 6th January 1368, and the other 15th December 1370. By the former he got the lands of Devally, with the office of forester of the forest of Ternway (Darnaway) in the county of Moray, &c., where he seems to have resided; but in 1371, at a court held at Perth, by Robert the Second, he resigned the castle of Darnaway to Thomas, son of John the Grant, whose daughter he had married, for their faithful and praiseworthy service to Thomas Randolph, earl of Moray, regent of Scotland, during the minority of David the second, and Thomas and John, his sons. Sir Richard’s second son, Duncan Cumming of Lochtervandich, was progenitor of the Cummings of Auchry, one of whom, William Cumming, the first who possessed that estate, born in 1634 (and eighth from Duncan), bequeathed, on 12th October 1693, some lands near Elgin, for the support of four decayed merchants of that town, who are called “Cumming’s Beidmen.” He also built the church of Monquhitter.

      Ferquhard Cumming, the eldest son of Sir Richard, was the first of the family designed by the title of Altyre. Sir Thomas Cumming of Altyre, the eldest son of Ferquhard, obtained in 1419, a warrant from the crown to build the castles and fortalices of Dollas and Earnside. His eldest son, James, died without issue, and was succeeded by the second son, Alexander, who died in the reign of James the Third. John, the third son, was progenitor of the Cummings of Earnside. He had also a daughter, Jane, called for her beauty, “the fair maid of Murray,” the fourth wife of the first earl of Huntly.

      Alexander’s eldest son, Sir Thomas Cumming of Altyre, by his prudent management, in 1470, compromised and adjusted all the differences which for some time had subsisted between his family and the town of Forres, concerning the mosses of Blair and Kirktown of Altyre. His son, Alexander Cumming of Altyre, when a young man, was, in 1502, chosen one of the arbiters for settling some differences between Andrew bishop of Moray and Hugh Rose of Kilravock. On 24th July 1548 Alexander Cumming of Altyre became cautioner for John and Hugh Cumming his son and brother, and ten others, to underly the law for cutting and slaying with their swords eleven oxen and cows belonging to Alexander Urquhart of Burrisyards, and for casting down and destroying two houses built on his lands, and for other acts of oppression committed by them. He had also a feud with the laird of Brodie; as we find that on November 14, 1550, Alexander Brodie of that ilk, and one hundred and twenty-six others, were denounced rebels and put to the horn, for not standing their trial for attacking Alexander Cumming of Altyre and his servants between his place of Altyre and the lands of Balnaferry, for their slaughter, and putting them to flight in great numbers on horse and foot, and for the cruel mutilation of one of them, a servant of Cumming. On the 26th June of the same year he had obtained a decreet of exemption for himself, his kinsmen, clan, and friends from attending the sheriff court of Moray. His grandson, Alexander, (eldest son, and apparent heir of Thomas Cumming of Altyre,) a man of great bravery and resolution, joined his cousin the earl of Huntly, in the reign of King James the Sixth, and had the command of a troop of horse at the battle of Glenlivet, where the king’s troops under the command of the earl of Argyle were defeated, 3d October, 1594.

      In 1627 Robert Cumming of Altyre gave his bond to the council of Scotland for the peace of the Highlands. His second son John, was direct ancestor of the Cummings of Logie. In 1657, his eldest son, Robert Cumming of Altyre, took for his second wife, Lucy, daughter of Sir Ludovick Gordon of Gordonstown, baronet, and was great-great-grandfather of Alexander Cumming, Esq. of Altyre, who entered the army early, was in the expedition to Carthagena in 1741, and received promotion for his gallantry in the attempt to storm the Boccachicca fort. By Grace Pearce, niece and sole heiress of John Penrose, Esq. of Penrose, in the county of Cornwall, he had six sons and three daughters. His eldest son, Alexander Penrose Cumming of Altyre, being heir and representative of the last Sir William Gordon of Gordonstown, bart., who died in 1795, in obedience to the last will of that gentleman, assumed the name and arms of Gordon of Gordonstown, and was created a baronet, 21st May, 1804. Early in life Sir Alexander had entered the army as an officer in the 13th regiment. He was subsequently lieutenant-colonel of the Strathspey Fencibles, and received the thanks of the commander-in-chief for suppressing a mutiny at Dumfries in 1794. He was M.P. for the Inverness district of burghs, and died 10th February 1806. He had married, in 1773, Helen, daughter of Sir Ludovic Grant of Grant, baronet, and had four sons and nine daughters. His eldest son, George, of the Hon. East India Company’s service, died unmarried, in 1800. The second son, Sir William Gordon-Cumming, the second baronet, born 20th July 1787, sat in parliament for the Elgin burghs at the period of the passing of the Reform Bill. He died 23d December 1854. He married, first, in 1815, the eldest daughter of John Campbell, Esq., by whom he had six sons and five daughters. His first wife having died in 1842, he married, 2dly, the 2d daughter of Mackintosh of Geddes, and had one daughter by her. His eldest son, Sir Alexander Penrose Gordon-Cumming, born 17th August 1816, a captain 4th light dragoons, and 71st light infantry, became third baronet; married the only daughter of Rev. Augustus Campbell, rector of Liverpool; issue, two sons and one daughter. He is head and representative of the ancient family of the Comyns so celebrated in Scottish history; heir general to the Penrose family of Cornwall, and inherits, through female descent, the estate of the Gordons, premier baronets of Nova Scotia (baronetage now extinct). The second son, Ronaleyn George Gordon-Cumming, born March 15, 1820, when a young man was an officer in the Madras cavalry and afterwards in the Cape mounted rifles. An enterprising traveller and lion-hunter in the interior of South Africa, he published a work entitled ‘Five Years’ Adventures in the far interior of South Africa,’ with numerous illustrations, 2 vols, post 8vo. 1850. He made himself known also by an exhibition of hunting trophies, native arms and costume, one of the most unique of its kind.

      The name Roualeyn appears to have been taken from an ancient possession of the family of that name in the district of Cunningham, Ayrshire, afterwards belonging to the Mures, and now called Rowallan. In Anderson’s ‘Diplomata Scotiae’ is an acquittance of Walter Cumin, dominus de Roualeyn, to Richard de Boyle of Calburne (now Kelburne), ancestor of the earls of Glasgow, of forth shillings annually paid out of the lands of Malderland in that barony.

      Sir William’s younger brother Charles James Cumming, having married Mary Bruce of Kinniard, granddaughter of the Abyssinian traveller, (with issue, Mary Elizabeth, countess of Elgin, who died in 1843), assumed the name of Cumming Bruce, and is designated of Rosseisle and Kinniard. One of his sisters, Helen, married Sir Archibald Dunbar, baronet of Northfield, and another, Louisa, John Hay Forbes, Esq., a lord of session, under the title of Lord Medwyn, resigned in 1852.

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      A branch of the Cummings of some consideration in its time, was the family of Culter, the first of which, Jardine Cumyn, was second son of William Cumyn earl of Buchan, who received from his father in 1270 the lands of Inveralloch in Buchan. Alexander Cumyn, the fourteenth of this family, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1672. The second baronet was a very eccentric personage, and a memoir of him follows. The title became extinct on the death of the third baronet, born in 1737, towards the end of last century. James Cumming of Culter was one of the assize on the celebrated trial of the master of Forbes in 1537, for treasonable conspiracy against the king’s life and for plotting the destruction of the Scots army at Jedburgh; and Mr. Archibald Cumming, fiar of Culter, was also one of the assize on the trial of Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh in 1580, for the murder of the regent Moray.

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      In the list of the grand jury of Elgin and Forres, of date 1556, we find the names of Alexander Cumming of Earnside and William Cumming without any designation.

On June 11, 1596, “Ane callit Cuming the Muncke was hangit for making of false wrettis,” [Birrell’s Diary.]

      In the Ragman Roll occurs the name of Willeilmus Cumine of Kilbride, Lanarkshire, as having sworn fealty to Edward the First. His son, John Cumine, was forfeited for adhering to the English.

      A celebrated modern bearer of the name is the Rev. John Cumming, D.D., born in Aberdeen Nov. 10, 1810, and ordained in 1832 minister of the Scotch church, Crown Court, London, who has distinguished himself by his able championship of the doctrines of the Reformation, and by his numerous theological writings.

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      The first of the family styled of Relugas, in the county of Moray, was James Cumming, who lived in the reign of James the Sixth. He was the son of William Cumming of Presley, head of a tribe of the Cumming clan in the same county, and his youngest son, George Cumming, was an officer of rank in the army of Gustavus Adolphus. His eldest son, John Cumming of Relugas, had, with four daughters, seven sons. James Cumming, the eldest, married Jean, daughter of Robert Cumming of Altyre, and had two sons, Robert, his heir, and John, a physician in Irvine, father of another John, who, being also educated for the medical profession, succeeded him in his practice in that town. William Cumming, the second of the seven sons of the second laird, was professor of philosophy in the university of Edinburgh. John, the third son, was minister of Auldearn, and dean of Moray. The eldest son of the latter, also named John Cumming, a doctor of divinity, was in 1695 appointed regius professor of divinity and ecclesiastical history in the university of Edinburgh. His appointment created considerable excitement at the time, as it was the first regius professorship that had been founded in any of the Scottish universities, and no professor had ever been admitted a member of the senatus academicus of Edinburgh college, without being nominated by the town council, the patrons of the university. On this occasion, however, the chair of ecclesiastical history had been instituted by the government without consulting the council as to the propriety or expediency of the measure, and they naturally felt that their rights had been encroached upon in the matter. The other professors recognised at once the validity of his appointment; but the town council was not so easily satisfied. He does not appear to have qualified before the magistrates till the 10th of November 1702, and at a meeting of the town council held on the 15th February 1703, at which a visitation of the college was resolved upon, the lord provost acquainted the council that “Mr. Cumming was come into the college as a master of some profession, and that it was fit to see his gift, (or commission,) and know his profession, that the council may give rules and directions thereanent.” The council accordingly ordained Mr. Cumming to give in his commission to the clerk to that effect. This requisition not being complied with, the salaries of the professors were ordered to be stopped, till they produced their acts of admission. “This,” says Mr. Bower, “could only be designed as a check upon the manner in which the professor of ecclesiastical history had been admitted; and they calculated that they could thus indirectly obtain the information they required.” but after several ineffectual efforts to compel him to produce his commission, the matter was compromised. This professor continues to be appointed by the crown, and although like other regius professors, he is introduced to the senatus adademicus by the college bailie, it is under protest. [Bower’s History of University of Edinburgh, vol. ii. pp. 25 and 319.]

      Patrick, the sixth son of John Cumming, second laird of Relugas, above mentioned, was minister of Ormiston; and Duncan Cumming, the seventh and youngest son, was physician to King William of Orange at the battle of the Boyne. This may explain the interest which his nephew, Dr. John Cumming, had in obtaining the institution of a new chair in the university of Edinburgh in his favour.

      Robert Cumming, the fourth of Relugas, and fifth from William of Presley, had a son, Patrick Cumming of Relugas, D.D., who, like his father’s cousin, was regius professor of divinity and ecclesiastical history in the university of Edinburgh, to which chair he was appointed, December 7, 1737, on the death of professor Crawford. He was also one of the ministers of Edinburgh. He gave lectures in the university upon Jo. Alphonsi Turretini Compendium Historiae Ecclesiasticae. He was a man of very extensive critical knowledge, and took an active part in the business of the General Assembly, of which he was three times moderator. As a preacher he is represented as being equalled by few “in an easy, fluent, neat, and elegant style.” Of his two published sermons one was preached on the occasion of a fast appointed by the king for the Rebellion of 1745. He married Jane, eldest daughter of Mr. David Lauder, third son of Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, baronet, by whom he had five sone and a daughter. He resigned his professorship, on 18th June 1762, in favour of his eldest son, Robert, also a clergyman, who never delivered any lectures in the college. On his death, in 1788, he was succeeded in the chair by Dr. Thomas Hardie, one of the ministers of Edinburgh. Patrick Cumming, a younger brother of Robert, was professor of the oriental languages in the university of Glasgow.

CUMMING, or COMYN, SIR ALEXANDER, Baronet, an enthusiast of great but misapplied talents, the son of Sir Alexander Cumming of Culter, who was created a baronet in 1672, was born about the beginning of the eighteenth century. It appears by his Journal, which was in the possession of the late Isaac Reed, Esq., that he was bred to the law in Scotland, but was induced to quit that profession by a pension of three hundred pounds a-year being assigned to him by government, which was withdrawn in 1721. In 1729, in consequence of a dream of Lady Cumming, (Anna, daughter of Lancelot Whitehall, a gentleman belonging to a family of that name in Shropshire, commissioner of the customs for Scotland,) he undertook a voyage to America for the purpose of visiting the Cherokee nations; and on the 3d of April 1730, in a general meeting of chiefs at Nequisee among the mountains, he was crowned commander and chief ruler of the Cherokees. He returned to Charlestown, April 13, with six Indian chiefs, and on June 5 arrived at Dover. On the 18th he presented the Indians to George the Second at Windsor, when he laid his crown at his majesty’s feet; on which occasion the chiefs also did homage. In consequence of the feelings of dissatisfaction which Sir Alexander found to prevail in America, he formed the design of establishing banks in each of the provinces dependent on the British exchequer, and accountable to the British parliament, as the only means of securing the dependency of the colonies. In 1748 he laid his plans before Mr. Pelham, the Minister, who treated him as a visionary enthusiast. He connected this scheme with the restoration of the Jews, for which he supposed the time appointed to be arrived, and that he himself was alluded to in various passages of Scripture as their deliverer. Finding that the Minister would not listen to his projects, he proposed to open a subscription himself for five hundred thousand pounds, for the purpose of establishing provincial banks in America, and settling three hundred thousand Jewish families among the Cherokee mountains. He next turned his thoughts to alchemy, and began to try experiments on the transmutation of metals. Being deeply involve din debt, he was indebted for support chiefly to the contributions of his friends. In 1766, Archbishop Secker appointed him a pensioner in the Charter-house, London, where he died at an advanced age in August 1775, and was interred at East Barnet, where Lady Cumming had been buried in 1743. His son, who had succeeded him in his title, was a captain in the army, but became deranged in his intellects, and died in indigence. At his death the title became extinct.

CUMMING, WILLIAM, a learned physician, the son of Mr. James Cumming, merchant in Edinburgh, was born September 30, 1715. He studied medicine for four years in the university of his native city; and in 1735 spent nine months at Paris, improving himself in anatomy. In 1738 he quitted Edinburgh, and ultimately settled at Dorchester, where his practice became very extensive. To Mr. Hutchins’ History of Dorsetshire he rendered the most useful assistance. In 1752 he received a diploma from the university of Edinburgh; and was soon after elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians there. In 1769 he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and in 1781, of that of Scotland. He died of a dropsy, March 25, 1788, in the seventy-fourth year of his age.


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