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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Cunningham family come from? What is the Scottish Cunningham family crest and coat of arms? When did the Cunningham family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Cunningham family history?

The ancestors of the name Cunningham come from the ancient Scottish tribe known as the Dalriadans. They lived along the rugged west coast of Scotland and on the Hebrides islands and used the name to indicate a person who lived at Cunningham in Ayrshire. However, numerous branches of the Cunningham family spread all over Scotland. Two of the most prominent branches of the Cunningham Clan, the Cunninghams of Corsehill and the Cunninghams of Caprington, trace their ancestry back to the medieval era.


Many spelling variations of Cunningham have been recorded over the years, including These are the result of the medieval practice of spelling according to sound and repeated translation between Gaelic and English. Cunningham, Cunninghame, Cunyngham, Cunnyngham, Cunnynghame, Cummingham and many more.

First found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire. About the year 1050, it is said that Warnebald Cunningham saved King Malcolm Canmore by hiding him in the barn and covering him with hay concealing him from his pursuer the Pretender King, MacBeth. The grateful King Malcolm later bestowed on Warnebald the lands of Cunningham and the motto "Over Fork Over."


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cunningham research. Another 235 words(17 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1490, 1548, 1574, 1520, 1578, 1630, 1575, 1630, 1610, 1664, 1670, 1716 and are included under the topic Early Cunningham History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 187 words(13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cunningham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Cunningham family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 85 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Settlers from Scotland put down roots in communities all along the east coast of North America. Some moved north from the American colonies to Canada as United Empire Loyalists during the American War of Independence. As Clan societies and highland games started in North America in the 20th century many Scots rediscovered parts of their heritage. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Cunningham were among those contributors:

  • Anthony, Archibald, Arthur, Barnard, Brian, Charles, Cornelius, David, Edward, Francis, Henry, George, James, Jane, John, Joseph, Margaret, Mary, Michael, Patrick, Robert, Thomas Cunningham, who all arrived in Philadelphia in the first half of the 19th century

Cunningham Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Nehemiah Cunningham, who arrived in Virginia in 1641
  • Wm Cunningham, who landed in Virginia in 1658
  • Darby Cunningham, who arrived in Maryland in 1663
  • Margaret Cunningham, who landed in Maryland in 1668
  • Daniel Cunningham, who landed in Maryland in 1673

Cunningham Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Ann Cunningham, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1729
  • Miles Cunningham, who landed in Virginia in 1769-1770
  • Henry Cunningham, who landed in Florida in 1771
  • Agnes Cunningham, aged 24, landed in New York in 1774
  • Jean Cunningham, aged 26, arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1775

Cunningham Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Patt Cunningham, aged 30, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • Robert W Cunningham, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1804
  • John Cunningham, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808
  • Hugh Cunningham, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808
  • Nicholas Cunningham, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1809

Cunningham Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Robert Anderson Cunningham, who arrived in Alabama in 1927


  • Alfred Austell Cunningham (1882-1939), American Marine Corps officer who became the first Marine Corps aviator and the first Director of Marine Corps Aviation
  • Leland Cunningham (1904-1989), American astronomer and a driving force in using automated calculating methods for computing celestial orbits
  • Walter Cunningham (b. 1941), former NASA Astronaut on the first manned mission of the Apollo Program
  • Glenn Cunningham (b. 1909), American middle distance runner
  • Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976), American photographer
  • Merce Cunningham (1919-2009), American choreographer and dancer
  • Briggs S Cunningham II (1907-2003), American race car driver, yachtsman, yacht builder, and victorious America's Cup skipper
  • Senior Airman Jason D Cunningham (1975-2002), United States Air Force pararescueman who was killed in action on March 4, 2002 while taking part in Operation Anaconda during the US war in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions
  • Michael Cunningham (b. 1952), American writer, best known for his 1998 novel The Hours, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 1999
  • Brigadier-General James Hutchings Cunningham (1886-1963), American Commanding Officer 14th Coast Artillery Regiment (1939-1941)



  • The Cunningham Family: Descendants of John Cunningham, Born About 1782-1786 in Norfolk County, England by Mary Gene McCall Middleton.
  • The Descendants of Gabriel Cunningham by Joan Pate.

Cunningham Clan Badge
Cunningham Clan Badge

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A clan is a social group made up of a number of distinct branch-families that actually descended from, or accepted themselves as descendants of, a common ancestor. The word clan means simply children. The idea of the clan as a community is necessarily based around this idea of heredity and is most often ruled according to a patriarchal structure. For instance, the clan chief represented the hereditary "parent" of the entire clan. The most prominent example of this form of society is the Scottish Clan system...


Septs of the Distinguished Name Cunningham
Cockon, Conaghand, Conaghane, Conaghant, Conaghen, Conaghend, Conaghent, Conaghind, Conaghint, Conaghyn, Conaghynd, Conaham, Conahan, Conaman, Coninghamn, Connaghand, Connaghane, Connaghant, Connaghen, Connaghend, Connaghent, Connaghind, Connaghint, Connaghyn, Connaghynd, Connaham, Connahan, Connaman, Conninghamn, Connyngam, Connyngghan, Connyngham, Connynghame, Connynghan, Connyngman, Conyngam, Conyngghan, Conyngham, Conynghame, Conynghan, Conyngman, Coon, Cumigghan, Cumigham, Cumighan, Cumigman, Cumingghan, Cumingham, Cuminghame, Cuminghames and more.


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  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  4. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  6. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  7. Fulton, Alexander. Scotland and Her Tartans: The Romantic Heritage of the Scottish Clans and Families. Godalming: Bramley, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-86283-880-0).
  8. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  9. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  10. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  11. ...

The Cunningham Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Cunningham Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 18 August 2014 at 23:10.

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