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CUNNINGHAM, a surname derived from the northern district of Ayrshire, anciently written Konigham (Teutonic), signifying regium domicilium, or the king’s house of habitation. The name, although a common one in Scotland, is not so prevalent in the district whence it originally sprung, (as is now, indeed, the case pretty generally with many of the names of the more ancient families of local origin), there having been in 1852, in the whole forty-six parishes of the county of Ayr, only forty-two persons bearing this surname, as ascertained from the Ayrshire Directory of that year.

      The first of the name in Scotland was one Wernebald, who came from the north of England in the beginning of the twelfth century, and settled in the district as a vassal under Hugh de Morville, lord high constable of Scotland; from whom he obtained the manor of Cunningham, which comprehended the church and most of the parish of Kilmaurs, and in consequence assumed the name. The statement of Van Bassen, a Norwegian genealogist, that one Malcolm, the son of Friskin, obtained the thanedom of Cunningham, for assisting Malcolm Canmore when prince of Scotland, in escaping from Macbeth, by forking hay over him in a barn in which he had taken shelter, and that his posterity, from that circumstance, adopted Cunningham as a surname and a shakefork for their arms, with the motto “over fork over,” is one of those traditionary figments with which the origin of the surnames of most of our ancient families have been invested, by writers anxious to give to them a greater antiquity, or to ascribe to them some distinguished feat of loyalty or enterprize in the service of our earlier kings. Sir George Mackenzie, in his ‘Science of Heraldry,’ says that this family being by office masters of the king’s stables, took for their armorial figure, the instrument whereby hay is thrown up to horses, which in blazon is called a shakefork. Sir James Dalrymple absurdly conjectures that the first of the Cunninghams in Scotland was one of the four knights who murdered Thomas a Becket, and who fled from England, and assumed the pairle in their arms, being after the same form as the shakefork, and is taken by some for an episcopal pall, as that carried in the arms of the see of Canterbury.

      In an old genealogical memoir of the Cummings in manuscript quoted in ‘Hamilton’s Description of the Shires of Lanark and Renfrew,’ (p. 21, note,) the origin of the Cunninghames is thus ingeniously traced to that clan: “And moreover, I am able to prove at this present tyme, 1622, ther is not so maney noble men as yet of one surname in all Europe as professeth the name of Cuming, sua that they wer all with ther lands and livings in one realme; and to qualifie and mack my alleadgeance good, I have insert heir, as efter followeth, the names of their houss, stylls and surnames quho confesseth themselves to be laufullie descended of the said surname of Cumings. Quhilk certainlie I have in pairt be some of ther oune confessiones; for being at super in the E. of Glenkairnes hous, in Kilmarnoch, quhair my lord wes present, with his sone, the master, as also the old laird of Watterstoun, Cunnynghame to his surname, and my lord goodschiris (goodfather’s) brother, quho did all thrie confess and confer that Cuming was ther right surname, quhilk wes to be seen in my lord’s ancient evidents, as my old lord did confess at this tyme, in presence of the wholl companie, quhair ther wer divers noble men. And as for the surname of Cunnynghame, they took it of that province quhilk wes called of auld Cunnynghame, as Comirnauld (Cumbernauld) wes called Cumming’s hald. Farder, I have omitted to sett doune heirfore, the cause whey the earle of Glencairn and surname of Cunnynghames confesseth that thair ryte surname should be Cuming, and wearrs not the Cuming’s armes, the thrie Shawes. The reason whey, as I understand: Quhen as the principall nobleman of Cumings was banished, as said is, tho’ he that remained within the realme of Scotland was not suffered to bruik that surname of Cumings, nor wear their armes; nevertheles, for the love and favor that the Cunynghames had naturallie to ther oune surname of Cumings, they, of their humilitie, took the schaich (shake fork) for the tother arms, quhilk is and signifies as servand to the scheawes. This I dyte not be my inventione, but be more ancient and learned men, whose more curious to know the doubts of their genologie.”

      The above-named Wernebald had two sons, Robert and Galfridus. The latter, under the designation of Galfridus de Cunninghame, is witness in a charter of King Malcolm the Fourth, of a donation to the abbey of Scone. Robert, the elder son, styled of Kilmaurs, with the consent of Richinda or Rescinda Barclay, his spouse, daughter and heiress of Sir Humphrey Barclay of Gairntilly, in the reign of Malcolm the Fourth, bequeathed the lands of Glenferchartland, or Glenfarquharlin, in the county of Kincardine, to the abbey of Arbroath. He gave also his village of Cunningham, the patronage of the kirk of Kilmaurs and half a carrucate of land belonging to the said kirk, to the abbacy of Kelso, which gift was confirmed by Richard de Morville, constable of Scotland, in 1162. The consideration of this grant was an easy reception into the fraternity of that house, and he gave to the same abbey two parts of such goods as should belong to him at his death. He was a witness in a charter granted by Richard de Morville of the lands of Hermistoun to Henry Sinclair. His grandson, Stephen de Cunningham, was one of the fifteen hostages given to Henry the Second of England for the liberation of King William the Lion in 1174.

      Richard Cunningham, the fifth from Wernebald, is witness to a charter granted by Allan lord of Galloway, of the lands of Stephenston, Corsbie, and Monoch, to Hugh Crawford, ancestor of the earls of Loudoun. In the chartulary of Paisley the name frequently occurs. Fergus de Cunningham, sixth in descent from Wernebald, and Malcolm his son resign all their lands in Kilpatrick, to Maldouin earl of Lennox, and when that earl dispones them to Paisley, they are specified, and called Dundrinnans. Immediately after, in the Inquest of seven men about the lands of Mokineran, Fergus appears, of date June 1233; and in a gift of a net upon the water of Leven by earl Maldouin, Fergus is designed “filius Cunninghame.” From him were descended the Cunninghames of Ranfurly.

      Robert, son and heir of Sir Robert de Cunninghame, is witness in the confirmation of the lands of Ingliston by Thomas, son of Adam Carpentarius, supposed to have been in the reign of Alexander the Third.

      Hervey de Cunningham, son of Robert de Cunningham of Kilmaurs, behaved gallantly at the battle of Largs in 1263, and from Alexander the Third in the following year he got a charger of the lands of Kilmaurs. He died before 1268. He had two sons, William and Galfridus. The latter was ancestor of the Cunnignhams of Glengarnock. Sir William, the elder son, is witness to a charter of Malcolm earl of Lennox about 1275. His son, Edward de Cunnningham, mortified the lands of Grange to the monastery of Kilwinning, and died about 1290. He afterwards swore allegiance to Edward the First. He had three sons, Robert, James and Donald. James, the second son, got from Robert the Bruce, the lands of Hassendean in Roxburghshire. Sir James of Cunninghame is witness in a charter by Walter Stewart of Scotland of the kirk of Largs to Paisley, dated the 3d of February 1318. Nigel de Coninghame, the son of James, had a charter of the lands of Westbernys (Barns) in Fife, 8th December 1376, on the resignation of Sir Patrick de Polwarth, knight, and from him the Cunninghams of Beltan and Barns are descended.

      Sir Robert de Cunningham of Kilmaurs, the eldest son, swore fealty to King Edward the First in 1296, in consequence of which his name appears in the Ragman Roll, but afterwards declared for Robert the Bruce, from whom he got a charger under the great seal, of the lands of Lanbruchtan in Cunningham in 1319. He had two sons, William and Andrew, The latter was ancestor of the Cunninghams of Drumquhassel, Ballindalloch, Balgougie, Banton, and other families of the name.

      Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs, the eldest son, is witness to a donation to the monastery of Kelso in 1350. He was one of the Scottish gentlemen proposed as a hostage for King David the Second in 1354. He married the lady Eleanor Bruce, sister and heiress of Thomas, earl of Carrick, and in her right had a charter of the earldom from King David the Second, in 1361. It has generally been affirmed that she was his second wife, and from the circumstance that the earldom did not descend in his family, genealogists have usually stated that she had no issue, and that his sons, of which he is said to have had three, were the offspring of a previous marriage. There is good reason, however, for believing that she had five sons to him, and it appears from certain charters, and particularly one of the lands of Kincleven, that Sir William married a second time a lady, whose Christian name was Margaret, but of what family is not known. In the charter to him of the earldom, no mention is made of heirs, and on Lady Eleanor’s death, it was reassumed by Robert the Second, who soon after conferred it on his own eldest son, John, during Sir William’s lifetime. Thomas, his third son, was ancestor of the Cunninghams of Caprington, baronets, and of the Cunninghams of Enterkin and Bedlan. Robert, the eldest son, one of the hostages for King David the Second in 1357, died before his father. His second son, also Sir William Cunningham, had a share of the forth thousand francs sent by the king of France, to be distributed among the principal persons in Scotland in 1385. He is witness in a permission by Sir John Blair to draw water through his lands of Adamton in Kyle, to the mill of Monkton, in 1390, wherein he is designed “vicecomes de Air.” He founded the collegiate church of Kilmaurs, by charter of date 13th March 1403, and in 1404 is witness to the confirmation of the lands of Thornly. He married Margaret, the elder of the two daughters and coheiresses of Sir Robert Dennieston of that ilk (see DENNIESTON, Lord), and with her acquired large possessions, namely, the lands and baronies of Danielston and Finlayston in Renfrewshire, Kilmarnock in Dumbartonshire, Glencairn, whence his descendants took their title of earl, in the county of Dumfries, and Redhall and Collinton in Mid Lothian, as appears from the original contract of division of the coheiresses in 1404. He died in 1418. He had three sons; Robert; William, ancestor of the family of Cunninghamhead; and Henry, who distinguished himself at the battle of Beaugé in 1421.

      Sir Robert, the eldest son, got a charter of the lands of Kilmaurs from Robert duke of Albany, governor of Scotland, on his father’s resignation of the same in 1413. He was knighted by King James the First, and sat on the jury on the trial of Murdoch duke of Albany in 1425. He and Sir Alexander Montgomery of Ardrossan, ancestor of the earls of Eglinton, had a joint commission for governing and defending Kintyre and Knapdale, 10th August, 1430. By his wife, Ann, a daughter of Sir John de Montgomery of Eglinton and Ardrossan, he had two sons, Alexander, and Archibald, designed of Waterston.

      Alexander de Cunningham, of the fourteenth generation from Warnebald, was created Lord Kilmaurs, by King James the Second, in 1445, and earl of Glencairn, by King James the Third, 28th May 1488. See GLENCAIRN, earl of.

      The earl of Glencairn, for supporters to his arms had two conies, proper relative to the name of Cunningham or Coningham.


      The immediate ancestor of the Cunninghams of Caprington was Thomas, third son of Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs, who lived in the reign of David the Second. He got from his father in patrimony the lands of Baidland in Ayrshire, by charter dated in 1385. His son, Adam Cunningham, who succeeded him, married one of the daughters and coheiresses of Sir Duncan Wallace of Sundrum, by whom he got the lands of Caprington, which became the chief designation of the family, and in consequence they were long in use of quartering the arms of Wallace with their own. Adam Cunningham of Caprington was, in 1431, one of the hostages for King James the First, in the room of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig. He died in the end of the reign of King James the Second.

      His son, Sir Adam Cunningham, had the honour of knighthood conferred on him by King James the Fourth. He married Isabel, daughter of Malcolm Crawford of Kilbirney, progenitor of the viscounts Garnock, and died in 1500. His son, John Cunningham of Caprington, seems to have been engaged in many of the feuds of the period, as his name often occurs in the Criminal Records of the time. On November 23, 1527, with several kinsmen of the name of Cunningham, and six other persons, he found caution to appear before the justiciary, for intercommuning with Hugh Campbell of Loudoun, sheriff of yr, a declared rebel and at the horn, for the slaughter of gilbert earl of Cassillis. In May 1530, he and seventeen others were charged with being art and part in the cruel slaughter of John Tod, and not appearing, they were denounced rebels, along with David Boswell of Auchinleck, for this crime. On August 9, 1537, he and the said David Boswell, with twenty-seven others, found caution to underly the law at the next justice-aire of Ayr, for art and part of the mutilation of John Sampson, of the thumb of his right hand, of forethought felony. By his first wife, Annabella, daughter of Sir Matthew Campbell of Loudoun, he had two sons, William, and Thomas, who is supposed to have got from his father the lands of Baidland.

      William Cunningham of Caprington, the elder son, was a person of considerable note and influence in his day. His name, with that of the laird of Cunninghamhead, appears at the famous missive sent in 1570, by some of the barons of Ayrshire, to Kirkaldy of Grange, relative to his rumoured intention of slaying John Knox. At the parliament held at Stirling, 15th July 1578, the laird of Caprington was one of the persons appointed to examine and report on the Book of Policy presented by the church, which the lords had refused to ratify. He was one of the assize on the trial, December 23, 1580, of William Lord Ruthven, lord high treasurer, and eighty-two others, his attendants and servants, for the slaughter of John Buchan, a servant of Lawrence Lord Oliphant, when they were acquitted. At the meeting of the General Assembly at Glasgow, the 24th April 1581, William Cunningham of Caprington was appointed the king’s commissioner to the church, and presented his majesty’s letter to the Assembly. The instructions given to him by the king on the occasion will be found inserted in Calderwood’s History of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. iii. pp. 515-519. Early in 1584 he was one of the commissioners sent from the king to the earl of Gowrie in Perth, to command him to take a remission for the raid of Ruthven, and to condemn the act as treason, which he did. In the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh on 6th February 1588, he was one of the persons appointed to concur with the moderator, and advise upon the special matters to be considered in the Assembly at extraordinary hours. He was also one of thirteen members appointed to meet and confer with six of the king’s council concerning papistrie, the plantation of kirks, &c. He died about 1597. He had three sons, William, his successor; John, of Broomhill, who carried on the line of the family; and Hugh of Previck, progenitor of the family of Enterkine.

      The eldest son, William Cunningham of Caprington, being, with Daniel Cunningham of Dalbeith, charged, in the beginning of February 1598, to attend the raid of Dumfries, appointed by the earl of Angus, lieutenant and warden of the west marches, for the pursuit and punishment of disorderly persons, as was the custom of those days, went to the gathering with their followers armed in warlike manner, but finding there James Douglas of Torthorwald, who was then “a rebel and at the horn” for slaying the king’s cousin, James Stewart of Newton, “and their near kinsman,” they returned home without giving Angus the assistance required by the proclamation, and also abstained from going to another raid appointed by him at Dumfries in September 1599; and being afterwards indicted at law for abiding from these raids, they produced a letter from the king and council, dated 16th February 1600, discharging the justices from all procedure against them, and freeing them from ever attending any raid to which they might be summoned, where the said James Douglas was sure to be. “This letter,” says Mr. Pitcairn, “affords a striking illustration of the insecure and disturbed state of the country and the weakness of government. Douglas of Torthorwald residing so near the borders, seems to have been too powerful a subject bo be sued even for the slaughter of a Stewart, ‘

cousin to the kind’ Although ‘at the horn’ for this slaughter, the lieutenant scruples not to accept of the assistance of this rebellious subject to restore peace to the borders, instead of delivering him up to justice for his crimes!” [Criminal Trials, vol. ii. page 108, note.]

      sir William Cunningham of Caprington, the son of this laird, was, in 1618, knighted by King James the Sixth. He was, at one period, possessed of an immense estate, but partly by his expense in building and profuse manner of living, and partly by his taking the losing side in the politics of the troubled times in which he lived, he contracted a load of debt that he could not get rid of, and his estate was sold by his creditors to the Chancellor Glencairn. He first joined the side of the parliament, and in 1640 was nominated one of their committee. In 1641, he was appointed one of the committee for stating the debts of the nation, and one of the uplifters of the English supply; also one of the members for planting of kirks. He subsequently went over to the marquis of Montrose, for which parliament in 1646 imposed upon him a fine of fifteen hundred pounds sterling, and he was ordered to be imprisoned in Edinburgh castle till it was paid; but it being found that he could neither pay the money nor give security for the amount, he was liberated in 1647, on his giving bond to appear before the committee when called upon. He married Lady Margaret Hamilton, second daughter of the first marquis of Abercorn, and died without issue, whereby the male line of the first branch of the family of Caprington became extinct.

      The representation devolved upon the descendants of John Cunningham of Broomhill, second son of William Cunningham, fourth laird of Caprington. This John Cunningham had received from his father, in patrimony, the lands of Broomhill, which continued to be the chief designation of this the second branch of the family till they acquired the lands of Caprington in the second generation following. The son of this John, William Cunningham, appears also to have been engaged on the parliament side, for we find Mr. William Cunningham of Broomhill one of the commissioners from the covenanters to the king, in 1639. He married, first, Janet, daughter of Patrick Leslie, Lord Lindores, by whom he had eighteen children in nine years (the first single, four times twins, and thrice three at each birth), but only three daughters survived to be married. By his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William Sinclair of Ratter (great-grandfather of William, tenth earl of Caithness, and thirteenth in descent from King Robert Bruce) he had three sons and four daughters. His second son James was designed of Geise.

      His eldest son, Sir John Cunningham, an eminent lawyer, was, on 19th September 1669, created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles the Second. He possessed the lands of Lambruchtan, by which he was designated before he purchased back the lands of Caprington from the chancellor Glencairn. That nobleman had bestowed that estate on his son, Lord Kilmaurs, and it was burdened with the jointure of his widow (Lady Betty Hamilton, a daughter of William duke of Hamilton) who lived in the castle of Caprington for fifty years after her husband’s death, so that Sir John paid at last for the estate above three times its value. He is mentioned with great commendation as a lawyer, by Sir George Mackenzie, and also by Bishop Burnet in his ‘History of his own Times.’ He was, by many of the nobility and gentry, chosen, with Sir George Lockhart, to plead against the duke of Lauderdale’s misgovernment in Scotland, before Charles the Second in council at London, Sir George Mackenzie, the lord advocate, being employed in his grace’s behalf. The duke’s fall happened soon after. Sir John died in 1684. by his wife, Margaret, daughter of William Murray of Polmaise and Touchadam in Stirlingshire he had with a daughter two sons; William, his successor; and John, who, like his father, was an eminent lawyer, and the first that undertook to read lectures on the Roman law in Scotland, as also on the Scots law. He kept up a constant correspondence with the celebrated Dutch lawyer, Voet, and by this method he perfected his classes in the Roman law, and saved many families the expense of a foreign education to their sons, there being no professorships of these branches of a legal education in Scotland at the time. He continued to read his lectures till the year 1710, when he died. Janet, the daughter, became the wife of George Primrose of Dunipace, and was the mother of Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace, executed at Carlisle in 1746 for his share in the rebellion of the preceding year.

      The elder son, Sir William Cunningham of Caprington, the second baronet, married Janet, only child and heiress of Sir James Dick of Prestonfield, baronet, (who died in 1728), by whom he had six sons and four daughters.

      The baronetcy of Prestonfield devolved, first on William the third son (James the second son having died young), and on his death in 1746, upon the fourth but third surviving son, Alexander, who also inherited the estate, and in conformity with an entail executed by his grandfather, assumed the name of Dick. Previously to succeeding to the title he had made an extensive continental tour with Allan Ramsay, the son of the author of the Gentle Shepherd, and a Journal which he kept on that occasion has been inserted in the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1853. He afterwards practised as a physician with great reputation in the county of Pembroke, as Dr. Alexander Cunningham. [See DICK, Sir Alexander, baronet.]

      On the death of his father, Sir William Cunningham, in 1740, the eldest son, John, became third baronet of Caprington. He was esteemed one of the most learned and accomplished personages of his day. Most of his time was spent in literary retirement at his castle of Caprington; and he is represented as having read Homer and Ariosto every year for the last thirty years of his life. He was blessed with constant good health, and his faculties continued unimpaired to the last. Sitting at supper, with his usual cheerfulness, at Caprington, 30th November 1777, he was seized with a fit of apoplexy, fell bac in his chair, and calmly expired, in the eighty-second year of his age. He married in 1749, Lady Elizabeth Montgomery, eldest daughter of Alexander, ninth earl of Eglinton, and had by her two sons, William, his successor, and Alexander, an officer in the army.

      His elder son, Sir William Cunningham, fourth baronet, born 19th December 1752, died without issue, in January 1829, when the baronetcy and estate of Caprington devolved on his cousin, Sir Robert Keith Dick of Prestonfield, baronet, who thus inherited two baronetcies. He died in 1849, and was succeeded by his son, Sir William Hanmer Dick, born at Silhet in Bengal in 1808, who assumed by authority of parliament the name of Cunningham; married, with issue. See DICK, surname of.


      The family of Cunningham of Cunninghamhead in Ayrshire, one of the oldest and most powerful cadets of the noble family of Glencairn, had at one time large possessions not only in that county but in Lanarkshire and Mid Lothian. About the end of the seventeenth century it began to decline, and in 1724, the male line of the family became extinct. The founder of it was William, second son of Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs, who married the heiress of Dennieston. He received from his father the lands of Woodhead, in the parish of Dreghorn, on which the name was changed to Cunninghamhead, in compliment to the family name.

      This branch of the Cunninghams had a feud with the Mures of Rowallan, and on November 3, 1508, Robert Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, the second proprietor of the estate, was at the Ayr justice-aire, convicted of having, with convocation of the lieges, gone to the kirk of Stewarton, against John Mure of Rowallan and his men, for the office of parish clerk of the said kirk; also of art and part of the oppression done to Elizabeth Ross, Lady Cunninghamhead, in occupying and manuring her third part of the lands of Cunninghamhead and Bonailly, and of thereby breaking the king’s protection upon her, in the year 1503; and of art and part of the oppression done to the abbot and convent of Kilwinning, and to Hew earl of Eglinton, their tenant, in the “spulzie” of the teind sheaves of the lands of Middleton, in the parish of Perston, and of breaking the “safeguard” of the king upon the said earl, in the year 1508.

      William Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, the fifth in descent from Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs, was that laird of Cunninghamhead who, in 1559, was sent, with the laird of Pittarrow, to the queen regent to explain the designs of the Lords of the Congregation. He was present in the great parliament of 1560, and in 1562 subscribed the far-famed bond for support of the reformed religion, drawn up by John Knox. On May 12th of the latter year William Cunningham of Cunninghamhead was indicted for abiding from the raid of Jedburgh, and his son, “the young laird,” was americated for his non-entry to underly the law. The laird of Cunninghamhead was a member of the renowned General Assembly which met at Edinburgh on 25th June 1565, that was so obnoxious to the popish party at the time, and he was one of the committee appointed to present its articles to the queen. After the “chase-about Raid,” the same year, he was one of the leaders of the Reformed party, who with the earl of Moray, afterwards regent, retired to Carlisle for a time. In 1570 he was among the Ayrshire barons who signed the famous letter to Kirkcaldy of Grange in behalf of John Knox.

      A succeeding laird, his grandson or nephew, was, on 11th march 1603, retoured heir to his father, John Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, in the lands in Ayrshire as well as in those of Woodhall and Bonailly in Mid-Lothian (part of the ancient estate of the Denniestons, and which continued in a branch of this family for nearly a hundred years longer). By his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Sir James Edmonstone of Duntreath, he had William, his successor, and two daughters. The elder daughter, Barbara, married in 1624, James Fullarton, younger of Fullarton, and their descendant Colonel William Fullarton, was served heir to this family of Cunninghamhead on 17th December 1791.

      The son, Sir William Cunninghame, succeeded about 1607, and was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, in 1627. He died about 1640. Barbara, his eldest daughter, married Mure of Caldwell, and was, by the prelatical party subjected to much suffering on account of her adherence to the Covenant. His son, Sir William, the second baronet, married in August 1661, the Hon. Anne Ruthven, eldest daughter of Thomas first Lord Ruthven of Freeland, who survived him, and took for her second husband William Cunninghame of Craigends. The second baronet was, in 1662, by the ruling party, for his support of the covenant, fined two hundred pounds sterling. In 1664 he was arraigned as a delinquent before the high commission, and escaped with difficulty. In 1665 he was committed to prison. In the following year, when several other gentleman were liberated, he was detained, and in 1688 he was still more strictly confined. He got little respite till December 1669, when he was finally discharged, and died in 1670.

      His only son, Sir William, third baronet, was served heir to his mother in 1679, and on the decease of David, second Lord Ruthven, in 1701, without issue, he assumed the name of Ruthven in addition to his own, but did not take that peerage, (although there was no male claimant, and he was the son of the elder daughter of the first Lord Ruthven,) but allowed his cousin, Isabel, the daughter of his mother’s youngest sister, Elizabeth, to enjoy the title of Lady Ruthven, and her descendants now possess the peerage of Ruthven. Like his father he suffered much from religious persecution, even when but a schoolboy. He died without issue in 1724, when the baronetcy became extinct. Cunninghamhead was sold, in that year, to John Snodgrass, Esq., and is still possessed by his descendant. Mr. Snodgrass Buchanan. The representative of the family is now in the person of Fullarton of Fullarton, as lineally descended from Barbara, eldest daughter of John Cunninghame of Cunninghamhead, married to his ancestor in 1624.


      The Cunninghames of Aiket, also in Ayrshire, a very ancient family, now extinct, descended from Gilbert or Gilmore de Cunningham, mentioned as one of the nominees of Robert de Brus in the competition with Baliol. They seem to have been actively engaged in the feuds of the Cunningham family with the Sempills, the Mures, and the Montgomeries, as on November 20, 1533, Robert Cunningham of Aiket and William his son were among those who found caution to underly the law for besetting the way, on two occasions, of William Lord Sempill, for his slaughter, and on November 4th, 1570, William Cunninghame of Aiket and two of his servants, with John Raeburn of that ilk, his son-in-law, were put upon their trial for the murder of John Mure of Caldwell, when they pleaded that the deed was committed by the deceased Alexander Cunninghame of Aiket, and they were unanimously acquitted. On January 12th, 1578-9, Helen Colquhoun, the wife of William Cunninghame of Aiket, was accused of administering poison to her husband, but did not make her appearance for trial. Alexander Cunninghame of Aiket, was, in 1586, concerned in the murder of Hugh, fourth earl of Eglinton (see EGLINTON, fourth earl of), Captain James Cunninghame, the seventh from the above Robert, was retoured heir to his father, James Cunninghame, in Aiket and some adjacent lands. He is supposed to be the same with Major James Cunninghame of Aiket, who appears as commissioner of Supply for Ayrshire in 1704, and it is likely was the same gentleman who made such a distinguished opposition to the union in 1707, as mentioned in the histories of that period. Two aged ladies who in 1823 were living in Ayr were said to have been the last of this family.


      The first of the Cunninghams of Robertland in Ayrshire, was William Cunningham of Craigends in Renfrewshire, of the noble family of Glencairn. He bestowed that estate on his second son, David Cunningham of Bartonholme, whose son and grandson, both also named David, succeeded to the estate. The latter, who was knighted, was in 1586 a party concerned in the murder of Hugh fourth earl of Eglinton (see EGLINTON, fourth earl of). His son, also Sir David Cunningham, had three sons; David, his successor; Alexander; and Sir James, gentleman of the bedchamber to King Charles the First. In 1644, when the duke of Hamilton and his brother the earl of Lanark were put under arrest at Oxford, Sir James Cunningham was extremely instrumental in aiding the escape of the latter The eldest son, David, was served heir to his father in 1628, previous to which, according to Crawfurd, he was master of the works to King James the Sixth. He was, by Charles the First, created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 25th November 1630, by patent to him and his heirs male whatsoever. In the subsequent civil wars he suffered much on account of his loyalty to that unfortunate monarch. His successor, Sir David, supposed to be his son, was a commissioner of supply for Ayrshire in 1661, and died before 1675, when his uncle, Sir Alexander, became third baronet. Sir David, the sixth baronet, in 1696 had a protection in his favour from parliament. He was succeeded by his kinsman, William Cunningham (son of William Cunningham of Auchenskeith, whose father, John Cunningham of Waterston, was the son of Christian, killed at the siege of Namur, second son of Sir David, the first baronet). He married in 1741 Margaret, daughter of William Fairlie of Fairlie, in the same county, and in 1778 was served heir to Sir David Cunningham of Robertland, and assumed the title. He died 25th October 1781. He had two sons, William, his heir, and Alexander Cunningham, collector of customs at Irvine.

      Sir William, the seventh baronet, was the gentleman referred to by Burns as his informant of the anecdote relative to the circumstances under which Allan Ramsay, when on a visit at Loudoun castle, composed his song of the ‘Lass of Patie’s Mill.’ He assumed the additional surname of Fairlie, and on his death in 1811, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir William, who died February 1, 1837. Sir William’s brother, Sir John Cuningham Fairlie, born 29th July 1779, succeeded him as 7th baronet. He married, 8th August 1808, Janet Lucretia, daughter of John Wallace, Esq. of Kelly, but without issue. Died 1852, when his next brother, Sir Charles Cuningham Fairlie, became 8th baronet. Died 1859, when his son, Sir Percy Arthur, born in 1815, became 9th baronet.


      A baronetcy is also possessed by the family of Cuninghame of Corsehill, in the same county, descended from Andrew, second son of the fourth earl of Glencairn. From his father he got certain lands in Ayrshire, the two Corsehills being particularly specified, and the grant was confirmed to him and his wife, Margaret Cuningham (of the family of Polmaise), by royal charter, dated 4th May 1537 and 4th January 1548. Like his elder brother, Alexander, fifth earl of Glencairn, he was actively engaged in support of the Reformation, and being convicted of heresy before the lords spiritual in 1538, had his estate forfeited. He afterwards received a pardon, and obtained a new charter of his lands. He died in 1545.

      His eldest son, Cuthbert, married Matilda, daughter of Cunninghame of Aiket, and died in 1575. He had with two daughters, two sons, Patrick and Alexander, minors at the time of his death. The former was slain in the feud between the Cunninghams and the Montgomeries. The latter, who succeeded, died in May 1646. With three daughter, he had two sons, Alexander and David of Dalbeith. His great-grandson, Alexander Cuninghame, succeeded in 1667, and on 26th February 1672, he was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, by diploma, to himself and the heirs male of his body. His son, Sir Alexander, second baronet, succeeded in 1685, and died in 1730. His son, Sir David Cuninghame, the third baronet, married Penelope Montgomery, niece and heiress of Sir Walter Montgomery, baronet, of Kirktonholm (descended from the Montgomeries of Skelmorley) by whom he had three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, Alexander Cuninghame, a captain in the army, served in the wars in Flanders. On succeeding to the estate of Kirktonholm, he adopted the name and arms of Montgomery, in consequence of a clause to that effect in the deed of entail. He married Elizabeth, eldest daughter and thereafter heiress of David Montgomery of Lainshaw, descended from Sir Neil Montgomery of Lainshaw, and representative of the family of Lyle Lord Lyle. He predeceased his father, Sir David, by a few months in 1770. He had five sons and two daughters. His third son, Alexander, served as an officer in the duke of Hamilton’s regiment during the American war, and died unmarried in 1782, and his youngest, Henry Drumlanrig, entered the navy and was lieutenant on board the Alfred in Rodney’s great engagement, 12th April 1782. He died in 1785.

      Sir Walter, eldest son of Captain Alexander Cuninghame, and fourth baronet, sold the estate of Lainshaw, in 1779, to William Cuninghame, second son and heir of Alexander Cunninghame of Bridgehouse in the same county. On his death, unmarried, in March 1814, he was succeeded by his brother, Sir David, fifth baronet, who had previously been in the royal North British dragoons. He also died unmarried, in November following. His only surviving brother, Sir James, the fifth son of Captain Alexander Cuninghame, became the sixth baronet. He married Jessie, second daughter of Thomas Cuming, Esq., banker in Edinburgh, representative of the ancient family of Cuming of Earnside, whose curious figure is among the most characteristic of “Kay’s Edinburgh Portraits.” Sir James had five sons and two daughters, and died in 1837. The eldest son, Sir Alexander David Montgomery Cuninghame, died 8th June 1846, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir Thomas Montgomery Cuninghame, eighth baronet; married, with issue, three sons and three daughters; one of the claimants of the dormant earldom of Glencairn, as lineal male descendant of William, fourth earl. (See GLENCAIRN, earl of.)


      The Cunyinghames of Milncraig, Ayrshire, and Livingstone, Linlithgowshire, who also possess a baronetcy, are likewise sprung from the above-mentioned William Cunningham of Craigends, from whom descended Cunyngham of Polquhaine, who obtained the estate of Milneraig, by marrying one of the daughters and coheiresses of William Cathcart of Corbiestoun (a junior member of the noble family of Cathcart), and was great-grandfather of David Cunynghame of Milncraig and Livingstone, who was created a baronet of Nova Scotia 2d February, 1702. Sir David Cunynghame was a person of eminent talents, a distinguished lawyer, an eloquent member of the Scottish parliament, and the friend and coadjutor of Fletcher of Saltoun. His eldest son, Sir James Cunynghame, died, unmarried, in 1747, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir David, a lieutenant-general in the army, and colonel, in 1757, of the 57th regiment of infantry. He died suddenly, of the gout in his stomach, 10th October, 1767. His son, Sir William Augustus, fourth baronet, for many years M.P. for Linlithgowshire, long held several respectable offices in the public service. He died 17th March 1828. His eldest son, Sir David Cunynghame, fifth baronet, born in 1769, died in 1854. He was a colonel (1797) and served at Famars, St. Amand, and Lincelles, where he was severely wounded; also served at the siege of Valenciennes, and the action at Ostend in May 1798. He was thrice married, the first time, in 1801, to a daughter of Lord-chancellor Thurlow. His eldest son, Sir David Thurlow Cunynghame, born in 1803, succeeded as 6th baronet; married, with issue.


      The family of Cuninghame of Craigends in Renfrewshire, so often mentioned, is lineally descended from Sir William Cunningham, the second son of Alexander first earl of Glencairn. He received the lands of Craigends from his father before the end of the fifteenth century. One of the family named William Cuninghame of Craigends was, in 1534, killed by Gabriel Sempill of Cathcart. Another, Gabriel Cuninghame, fell at the battle of Pinkie in 1547. In 1689 the free-holders of Renfrewshire elected William Cuninghame of Craigends their commissioner to the convention of estates, where, and in the several subsequent sessions of parliament, he was distinguished by his great fidelity and honour. The family is at present represented by a gentleman of the same name.


      The Cuninghames of Lainshaw were descended from Adam Cunninghame of Bridgehouse, a cadet of the family of Caprington, William Cuninghame, the third from this Adam and fourth of Bridgehouse, purchased in 1779 the estate of Lainshaw, in the vicinity of Stewarton, from Sir Walter Montgomery Cuninghame, baronet of Corsehill. He was thrice married, and had a large family. By his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of James Campbell, merchant in Glasgow, he had one son, William Cuninghame, who succeeded him in Lainshaw. This gentleman, who died November 6, 1849, was well-known for his piety and benevolence, and for his writings. He published various works on prophecy and scriptural chronology, of which a list is subjoined:

      Letters on the Evidences of the Christian Religion, by an Inquirer, first printed in the Oriental Star, a Newspaper at Calcutta in Bengal. Reprinted at Serampore, in Bengal, 1802, 12mo. 3d edit. corrected and enlarged. Lond., 1804.

      Remarks on David Levi’s Dissertations on the Prophecies relative to the Messiah, and upon the Evidences of the Divine Characters of Jesus Christ, addressed to the Consideration of the Jews, by an Inquirer. Printed by the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews. Lond. 1810, 8vo.

      A Dissertation on the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, and the Prophetical period of Twelve Hundred and Sixty Years, Lond. 1813. Third Edition. Lond. 1817, 8vo.

      Letters and Essays, Controversial and Critical, on Subjects connected with the Conversion and National Restoration of Israel, first published in the Jewish Expositor. Lond. 1822.

      Account of the formation of a Church on Congregational Principles in the town of Stewarton. Glasgow, 1827.

      The Church of Rome the Apostacy, and the Pope the Man of Sin and Son of Perdition. Second Edition, with an Appendix. Glasg. 1833.

      A Review of the Rev. Dr. Wardlaw’s Sermon on the Millennium; with an Answer to his Arguments against the Millennial Resurrection and Reign of the Saints and Martyrs of Jesus. Second Edition, with an Appendix. Glasg. 1833.

      The Pre-Millennial Advent of Messiah Demonstrated from the Scriptures. First printed in the Christian Observer. Second Edition. Glasg. 1833. Third edition.

      The Doctrine of the Millennial Advent and Reign of Messiah vindicated from the Objections of the Edinburgh Theological Magazine. With an Appendix, containing Remarks on Dr. Hamilton’s recent Works on Millenarianism. Second Edition, with some Structures on a Review of the Author’s Pre-millennial Advent of Messiah, &c., in a late Number of the Edinburgh Christian Instructor. 1834.

      Scrictures on Mr. Frere’s Pamphlet on the General Structure of the Apocalypse; being an Appendix to the Scheme of Prophetical Arrangement of the Rev. Edward Irving and Mr. Frere, critically examined.

      A Critical Examination of some of the Fundamental Principles of the Rev. George Stanley Faber’s Sacred Calendar of Prophecy, with an Answer to his Arguments against the Millennial Advent and Reign of Messiah.

      Strictures on certain leading Positions and Interpretations of the Rev. Edward Irving’s Lectures on the Apocalypse.

      Strictures on the Rev. S.R. Maitland’s four Pamphlets on Prophecy, and in Vindication of the Protestant Principles of Prophetic Interpretation. 1830, 8vo.

      The Jubilean Chronology of the Seventh Trumpet of the Apocalypse, and the Judgment of the Ancient of Days, Dan. vii. 9. with a brief account of the Discoveries of Mons. de Cheseux, as to the great Astronomical Cycles of 2300 and 1260 years, and their difference 1040 years. Glasg. 1834.

      The Political Destiny of the Earth as revealed in the Bible. Second edition, enlarged.

      The Chronology of Israel and the Jews, from the Exodus to the Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Glasg. 1835.

      The fulness of the Times; being an Analysis of the Chronology of the Seventy. In Two Parts. With an Introductory Dissertation, containing Strictures on the Rev. E. Beckersteth’s Scheme of Scripture Chronology. Lond. 1836.

      A Synopsis of Chronology, from the Era of Creation, according to the Septuagint, to the year 1837. Lond. 1837.

      A Supplement to a Dissertation of the Seals and Trumpets of the Apocalypse, and the Prophetical Period of Twelve Hundred and Sixty Years. Lond. 1838. Part ii. 1842.

      The Septuagint and Hebrew Chronologies Tried by the Test of their Internal Scientific Evidence; with a Table from Creation to the Accession of Uzziah in B.C. 810, showing their Jubilean Differences at each Date. Lond. 1838.

      The Scientific Chronology of the Year 1839, a Sign of the near approach of the Kingdom of God. Lond. 1839.

      A Supplement to the above, comprising the Arithmetical Solution and Chronological Application of the Number 666.

      The Season of the End, being a View of the Scientific Times of the year 1840 (computed a sending on the 30th Adar, March 23d, 1841); with prefatory remarks on Theories of Geology as opposed to the Scriptures, and an appendant dissertation on the dates of the Nativity and Passion. London, 1841, 8vo.

CUNNINGHAM, ALEXANDER, an historical writer of some note, son of the Rev. Alexander Cunningham, minister of Ettrick, was born there in 1654. He acquired the elementary branches of his education at home, and according to the custom of the times, went to Holland to finish his studies. In 1688 he accompanied the prince of Orange to England. He afterwards became tutor and travelling companion to the earl of Hyndford, and his brother, the Hon. William Carmichael; subsequently to John Lord Lorn, afterwards duke of Argyle and Greenwich; and thereafter to Viscount Lonsdale. He seems to have been employed by the English ministry in some political negociations on the continent, and we are informed that he sent an exact account to King William, with whom he was personally acquainted, of the military preparations throughout France. In Carstairs’ State Papers, published by Dr. MacCormick, there are two letters from Mr. Cunningham, dated Paris, August 22 and 26, 1701, giving an account of his conferences with the French minister, relative to the Scottish trade with France. In 1703 he visited Hanover, and was graciously received by the elector and the princess Sophia. On the accession of George the First he was sent as British envoy to Venice, where he resided from 1715 to 1720. He died at London in 1737, at the advanced age of 83. His works are:

      Animadversiones in R. Bentleii notas et emendationes in Q. Horatium Flaccum. Lond. 1721, 8vo.

      Horatius Denuo castigatus in usum R. Bentleii. Hague, 1721, 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1722, 8vo. this has been thought by some to have been edited by another of the same name.

      The History of Great Britain from the Revolution in 1688, to the Accessdion of George I. To which is prefixed, An Account of Mr. Cunningham and his Writings. Lond. 1787, 2 vols. 4to. This work was written by Mr. C. in Latin, translated into English by the Rev. Dr. William Thomson, and published by Thomas Hollingberry, D.D.

CUNNINGHAM, ALEXANDER, a critic of acknowledged learning, often confounded with the preceding, was a native of Ayrshire. Early in life he went to Holland, where he is supposed to have taught the civil and canon law. He published the works of Horace, with animadversions on Bentley’s edition of that poet, in 2 vols. 8vo, 17212. He died at the Hague in December 1730.

CUNNINGHAM, CHARLES, an historical painter of considerable genius, was born in Scotland in 1741. He early displayed such a capacity for design and such a lively imagination that his friends sent him to Italy, where he had for his master Raphael Mengs. After finishing his studies he went to Russia, where he painted several historical pictures for Prince Potemkin. His success was so brilliant that he resolved to settle in St. Petersburg, but the rigour of the climate affected his health, and he was obliged, in consequence, to quit Russia. The glory surrounding the name and deeds of Frederick the Great allured him to Prussia. Soon after his arrival at Berlin he became a member of the Academy of the Fine Arts, and painted several pictures the subjects of which were taken from Prussian history, and of which Frederick was generally the hero. Of these, the battle of Hochkirk, fought Oct. 14, 1758, in which Frederick was surprised by Marshal Daun, and defeated, was the most celebrated. The academy expressed its admiration of this picture in terms which were alike honourable to the arts and the artist. The king, Frederick William II., wishing to reward Cunningham for this great work with something more substantial than thanks, ordered his minister to enter his name for the first pension which should fall vacant. This intention was rendered nugatory, however, by the premature death of Cunningham, which took place in 1789.

CUNNINGHAM, THOMAS MOUNSEY, a lyric poet of considerable merit, second son of John Cunningham, and his wife, Elizabeth Harley, and elder brother of Allan Cunningham, was born at Culfaud, in the county of Kirkcudbright, June 25th, 1776, and was named after Dr. Mounsey of Rammerscales, near Lochmaben. His father, who was a farmer, being unsuccessful in his speculations, relinquished agriculture on his own account, and became steward or factor to Mr. Syme of Barncaillie, and on the death of the latter, he went with his family to reside at Blackwood on the Nith, the seat of Copland of Collieston. Thomas Cunningham received the first part of his education at Kellieston school, in that neighbourhood, and was afterwards removed to the schools of Dumfries, where, to reading, writing, and arithmetic, he added book-keeping, mathematics, a good deal of French, and a little Latin. When he was about sixteen, he became clerk to John Maxwell of Terraughty, a distant connection of his mother, with whom he did not long continue. Having been offered a clerkship in a mercantile house in South Carolina, he was preparing to set out, when Mr. Patrick Miller of Dalswinton, to whom his father was now engaged as steward, being consulted, gave it as his opinion that he should not go, and Thomas was apprenticed, instead, to a neighbouring millwright. He began when very young to write verses in the language of his district, and in a strain of country humour calculated to please a rustic audience. His first poem of a graver kind was called the ‘Har’st Kirn,’ descriptive of a farm-house scene at the conclusion of harvest, written in 1797. On the expiration of his apprenticeship, in October of that year, he went to England, and obtained employment at Rotherham. The parting scene with his family he embodied in a little poem called ‘The Traveller.’ His employer having become bankrupt, he made his way to London, and began to entertain a design of going to the West Indies, on a speculation of sugar-mills; but his former master having recommenced business at Lynn, in Norfolk, he was induced to return to his employment. He afterwards went to Wiltshire, and subsequently to the neighbourhood of Cambridge. While here, he wrote his exquisite song, ‘The Hills o’Gallowa’;’ also, a satirical poem, styled ‘The Cambridgeshire Garland,’ and a more serious one, called ‘The Unco Grave.’ In ‘Brash and Reid’s Poetry original and selected,’ will be found his ‘Har’st Home,’ the first of his pieces, we believe, that appeared in print. He now became a constant contributor to the Edinburgh Magazine, to which he sent not only poems and songs, but also, some years subsequently, sketches of Modern Society, Stories of the Olden Time, snatches of Antiquarianism, and Scraps of Song and Ballad. The Ettrick Shepherd was so much struck with the native force and originality of his strains, that he addressed a poetical epistle to him in that periodical, a reply to which, by Cunningham, also in verse, shortly afterwards appeared in the same Magazine.

      Having gone to Dover in search of employment, Cunningham was there in August 1805, and witnessed that naval combat between our cruisers and the French flotilla, in which Lieutenant Marshall fell. One of his poems written about this time was entitled ‘London,’ and had as little of the romantic in it as the great city itself. He subsequently settled in the metropolis, having obtained employment in the establishment of Mr. Rennie. He afterwards became foreman to a Mr. Dickson, and on quitting him, he undertook the superintendence of Fowler’s chain cable manufactory near the London Docks. A clerkship becoming vacant in Rennie’s establishment, he was, in 1812, re-engaged there, and latterly became chief clerk, with liberty to admit his eldest son as an assistant. In 1809, when the Ettrick Shepherd planned ‘The Forest Minstrel,’ he requested sixteen pages or so of verse from ‘Nithsdale’s lost and darling Cunningham,’ who permitted several of his shorter pieces to appear in that collection. He had ceased to write anything, either in prose or poetry, for many years. A poem, called ‘Brakenfell,’ which he composed in 1818, and the scene of which was laid at Blackwood on Nithside, is highly spoken of by his brother, who tells us that, from blighted views in literature, in his latter years he burnt many of his manuscript tales and poems, and ‘Brakenfell’ among the rest. On the 23d October 1834, just one week after the marriage of his daughter to Mr. Olver, a South American merchant of respectability, Cunningham was seized with cholera, and after eight hours’ severe illness, expired a little after twelve o’clock at night. The chief characteristics of his poetry are tenderness, oddity, and humour. Besides the pieces specified, his ‘Hallowmass Eve,’ and ‘Mary Ogilvy,’ are mentioned as happy instances of the romantic and the imaginative.

CUNNINGHAM, ALLAN, a poet and novelist, was born at Blackwood, near Dalswinton, in Dumfries-shire, on the 7th December 1784. His father was gardener to a gentleman in that neighbourhood, but soon after Allan’s birth, he became factor of land-steward to Mr. Miller of Dalswinton, the landlord of Burns the poet, at Ellisland. After receiving the rudiments of his education, Allan was taken from school, when only eleven years of age, and apprenticed as a stone-mason to an uncle of his, who was a country builder in considerable business, with the view of joining or succeeding him in his trade; but this project was never carried into execution. Notwithstanding the disadvantageous circumstances under which he entered on life, he contrived to acquire a considerable amount of varied information, from great though desultory reading. He early contributed poetical effusions to the periodical works of the day, and made a pilgrimage on foot to Edinburgh for the sole purpose of seeing the author of ‘Marmion,’ as he passed along the street. He afterwards, in 1820, had the opportunity of being introduced to Sir Walter Scott, when he communicated to him Sir Francis Chantrey’s wish that he should sit to him for his bust. When Cromek, the London engraver, visited Scotland, for the purpose of collecting any unpublished fragments of Burns that could be gleaned, he was directed to Allan Cunningham as the most likely person to assist him in his researches. Allan was then a journeyman stonemason and a married man. He advised Cromek to form a collection of the ancient ballads and songs of Nithsdale and Galloway, and wrote various happy imitations of them which he sent to Cromek as genuine relics of ancient song. Indeed, nearly all the songs and fragments of verse in Cromek’s ‘Remains of Nithsdale and Galloway Song,’ published in 1810, are of Cunningham’s composition, though believed by Cromek, who was imposed upon by their beauty, to be undoubted originals. The same year (1810) Allan Cunningham removed to London, and was for some time employed as a writer for the newspapers. In 1814 he was engaged as clerk of the works, or superintendent, in the studio of Sir Francis Chantrey, the eminent sculptor, in whose establishment he continued till his death. He was a most industrious writer, and published various works in different departments of literature, a list of which is subjoined. Previous to the publication of his ‘Sir Marmaduke Maxwell,’ in 1822, he submitted the MS. to Sir Walter Scott, for his opinion and advice, which the latter conveyed in two letters, inserted in Lockhart’s Life of Scott. He highly approved of the drama, though he did not think it altogether fitted for the stage. Cunningham’s collection of ‘The Songs of Scotland,’ with notes, appeared in 1835. He also edited an edition of the works of Burns, in eight volumes, to which he prefixed a life of the poet, interspersed with original anecdotes and enriched with new information. He was a boy of twelve years of age at the time of Burns’ death, and as he saw him just previous to that event, and was a witness of his funeral, his account of the closing scenes of the poet’s life, and the state of feeling in Dumfries at the time, is intensely interesting. His last work, completed just two days before his death, was the life of his friend, Sir David Wilkie the distinguished artist, in three volumes. Allan Cunningham died suddenly of apoplexy, at his house 27 Lower Belgrave Place, London, on the 29th October, 1842, aged 58. through the influence of Sir Walter Scott, two of Mr. Cunningham’s sons obtained, in 1828, cadetships in the service of the East India Company. He left two other sons.

      Allan Cunningham’s genius was strong, vigorous, and earnest, but not well regulated. It has been remarked of him that his taste and attainments in the fine arts were as remarkable a feature in his history as his early ballad strains, which undoubtedly are his best poetical effusions. His prose style, when engaged on a congenial subject, was justly admired for its force and freedom. Strong nationality and inextinguishable ardour formed conspicuous traits in his character. His works are:

      Sir Marmaduke Maxwell, a dramatic poem, founded on border story and superstition; the Mermaid of Galloway; the Legend of Richard Faulder; and twenty Scottish Songs. London, 1822, 12mo.

      Traditional Tales of English and Scottish Peasants. 2 vols. 12mo. London, 1822.

      The Songs of Scotland, ancient and modern, with an Introduction and Notes, historical and critical, and characters of the Lyric Poets. London, 1825, 4 vols. 8vo.

      Paul Jones. A Romance, in 3 vols. 8vo, Edin. 1826.

      Sir Michael Scott. A Romance. London, 1828. 3 vols. 12mo.

      Lord Roldan. A Novel in 3 vols.

      The Maid of Elvar. a rustic epic, in 12 parts. London, 1832, 8vo.

      The Works of Burns, with a Life of the Poet. 8 vols.

      Lives of Eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. London, 1829-1833. 6 vols. 8vo. The most popular of his prose works, contributed to Murray’s Family Library.

      Life of Sir David Wilkie, with his Journals, Tours, and Critical Remarks on Works of Art, and a Selection from his Correspondence. London, 1843, 3 vols. 8vo.

Got an email in from Nigel Cunningham saying...

Dear Alastair

“Cunningham anciently called Konigham is a teutonic name”. You make the above statement on electric Scotland.

In fact the Germans/Teutons derived Konig from Cuning.

If you look up the ancient Germanic dictionary you will find that the original word for Konig was in fact Cuning. The word Cuning was in use in the Germanic language around 800 AD. The Danish, Dutch and Germanic (and Icelandic) versions of Koning/King were all derived from the British Cuning which in turn evolved to Cyning, and finally King in English. This can also be tracked through the historical development of English.

Ham was added much later to the name of Cuning. The “ham” was added during Norman times. The scribes of the Norman king changed the family or personal name of Cuning by adding “ham” for obvious reasons. The place name was in fact derived from the family name and not the other way around. There can be no doubt that Cuning was a family name because “ing” means “son” and/or “family” of the Cun (King). “Ing” has much the same meaning in old British/old English as does “Mac” in Gaelic. You can look this up in old English dictionaries. As I have said the name Cuning (without the “ham”) is known to have been in existence at least as early as 800AD and it is indisputable that the “ham” was added later. The name Cuning was derived from Cun Edda meaning the family or son of the Cun. The original Cunedda drove out the Irish from Wales around 500AD but his eldest son remained in what is now referred to as Lowland Scotland, what was the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Cun Edda was pronounced as Cun etha or Cun Atha (At the time dd was used to pronounce “th”. The use of “th” for this sound is a much later development in English) which later became Kenneth but was misunderstood by the English (at the time) as King Arthur. The fame of Cunedda (King Arthur) and his descendents (the Cunedda family) spread to Europe with the result that they adopted both the name and the institution of Cuning/King of which King Arthur was the model. As I have said the transfer of the name from Britain to Europe can be tracked through language history.

The “Edda” part of the name means “terrible”. Cunedda was in fact known as the terrible (terrifying) head dragon. Geoffrey of Monmouth and some of his predecessors misunderstood this to mean that these were terrible kings. The clan of Kennedy (which is a neighbouring clan to the Cunninghams) are also descended from Cunedda. The Kennedy clan believes that the Edda means “ugly” head. This is a misinterpretation of the “terrible head dragon”. Cunedda and Kenneth are the “q” celtic versions of the name meaning “terrible king”. The “P” celtic version (welsh) is Uther Pen Dragon, the terrible head dragon. “Pen” has the same meaning as “Ken”. “Uther has the same meaning as “Edda” (pronounced etha/atha/Arthur). Uther Pen Dragon was the father of King Arthur. Uther can be identified with the Cunedda who went to Wales whereas his eldest son remained in the Strathclyde region and therefore retained the Q celtic name of Cun Edda (King Arthur).

Kenneth McAlpin is recognised as the founder of Scotland. His historically correct name was not Kenneth but Cinead which is a variation of Cunedda. His later descendents established the House of Canmore which is a variation of Cunomorus which means the “Great King”(and not “big head”!).

The name Cunningham therefore consists of three parts Cun – ing – ham. The name Cunningham with the “ham” can be tracked back as far as about the 11th century. The name Cuning can be tracked to at least 800 ad. However the “Cun” part is much older. Cunedda claimed descent from Cunobelinos who was King of Britain during the time of Julius Ceasar which is of course more than 2000 years ago. Already at this time “Cun” signified “King”. It is therefore quite obvious that Cun is at least a thousand years older than (before) Konig. Cunobelinos name meant the “hound of war” and signified “courage in battle”. Belinos was the god of war. Cun meant “hound” and the British celts admired their hounds. Note also Cu chulain of Ireland.

Remarkably there are Princes and Princesses of Sparta whose names also begin with Cyn and also mean hound – many centuries before Cunobelinos. Could Geoffrey be right about Britain being settled by the Trojans? The Galations who lived in what is now Turkey were also Celtic and it is therefore quite possible that the Trojans were Celtic? The Trojans had a horse cult and so did the Britons.

But that is another subject. This is just a quick response.


Nigel Cunningham

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