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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.

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The surname Cunningham was 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."

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.


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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 and printed products wherever possible.

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Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Cuthbert Cunningham, 3rd Earl of Glencairn; William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn ( c. 1490-1548), a Scottish nobleman; Alexander Cunningham, 5th Earl of Glencairn (died 1574), Scottish nobleman and Protestant reformer; William Cunningham, 6th Earl of Glencairn ( ca. 1520-1578); James Cunningham, 7th Earl of...

Another 51 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cunningham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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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 and printed products wherever possible.

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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:

Cunningham Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Nehemiah Cunningham, who arrived in Virginia in 1641
  • William 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
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Cunningham Settlers in 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
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Cunningham Settlers in 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
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Cunningham Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Robert Anderson Cunningham, who arrived in Alabama in 1927

Cunningham Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • John Cunningham, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Danl Cunningham, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • John Cunningham, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1757
  • John Cunningham, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1776
  • Richard Cunningham, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1776
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Cunningham Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • John Cunningham, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • John Cunningham, aged 18, arrived in Canada in 1812
  • John Cunningham, who arrived in Canada in 1812
  • Hiram A Cunningham, who landed in Canada in 1830
  • Michael Cunningham, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1832
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Cunningham Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Arthur Cunningham, English convict from Leicester, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on July 29th, 1823, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Skirwin Cunningham, a smith, arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Caroline Cunningham, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • Honora Cunningham arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1846
  • James Cunningham arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Princess Royal" in 1848
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Cunningham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • J Cunningham landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • James Cunningham, aged 14, a weaver, arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Alexander Cunningham arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861
  • David Cunningham, aged 40, a labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
  • Janet Cunningham, aged 38, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Helenslee" in 1864
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  • William John "Bill" Cunningham Jr. (1929-2016), American fashion photographer for The New York Times
  • John T. Cunningham (1915-2012), American journalist, writer, and historian from New Jersey
  • Major-General Julian Wallace Cunningham (1893-1972), American Commanding Officer 112th Cavalry Combat Team (1944-1945)
  • Brigadier-General James Hutchings Cunningham (1886-1963), American Commanding Officer 14th Coast Artillery Regiment (1939-1941)
  • 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
  • Leland Cunningham (1904-1989), American astronomer and a driving force in using automated calculating methods for computing celestial orbits
  • Alfred Austell Cunningham (1882-1939), American Marine Corps officer who became the first Marine Corps aviator and the first Director of Marine Corps Aviation
  • Walter Cunningham (b. 1941), former NASA Astronaut on the first manned mission of the Apollo Program
  • 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
  • Briggs S Cunningham II (1907-2003), American race car driver, yachtsman, yacht builder, and victorious America's Cup skipper
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Cunningham Historic Events



Empress of Ireland

  • Mr. James J. Cunningham, British Cook from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking on May 29th 1914
  • Mr. Robert Alexander Cunningham (1889-1914), British First Class Passenger returning from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland on May 29th 1914

Halifax Explosion

  • Mrs. Helen  Cunningham (1868-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMS Hood

  • Mr. Richard F Cunningham (b. 1914), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking
  • Mr. John Cunningham (b. 1920), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Hull, Yorkshire, England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Hood and died on 24th May 1941 in the sinking

RMS Lusitania

  • Mr. Edward Cunningham, English Able-Bodied Seaman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking

RMS Titanic

  • Mr. Andrew Cunningham, aged 35, English Bedroom Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 4
  • Mr. B. Cunningham (d. 1912), aged 30, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Mr. Alfred Fleming Cunningham (d. 1912), aged 21, Irish Second Class passenger from Belfast, Ireland who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
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  • 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.
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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...

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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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Citations



    Other References

    1. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    2. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
    3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    4. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
    5. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. 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. Bloxham, Ben. Key to Parochial Registers of Scotland From Earliest Times Through 1854 2nd edition. Provo, UT: Stevenson's Genealogical Center, 1979. Print.
    8. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
    9. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
    10. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. 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 20 July 2016 at 15:09.

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