Cunning History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cunning is one of the oldest family names to come from the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is derived from Gunwyn deriving its origin from the Old English gundwein, which meant "battle friend" or in some cases, as a baptismal name as in "the son of Gunwyn." [1]

Early Origins of the Cunning family

The surname Cunning was first found in Suffolk where "in Corton (Suffolk) in the reign of John, Gundewyn' de Nethergate held land which was held in 1275 by Gerald Gunwine or Gundwyne by heredity." [2]

Gundewinus cortinarius was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Surrey in 1130. From this early Latin entry, Thomas Gundewin was found in the Close Rolls of 1228 and William Gundewyne was later listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296. [2]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 had only one listing, Willelmus Gunwyn as holding lands there at that time. [1]

Early History of the Cunning family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cunning research. Another 60 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1674, 1614, 1684, 1670, 1675, 1675, 1684, 1661, 1615, 1731, 1816 and are included under the topic Early Cunning History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Cunning Spelling Variations

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Cunning has undergone many spelling variations, including Gunning, Guning and others.

Early Notables of the Cunning family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Peter Gunning (1614-1684), an English Royalist church leader, Bishop of Chichester (1670-1675) and Ely (1675-1684), Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (1661.)...
Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Cunning Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Cunning family to Ireland

Some of the Cunning family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 95 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cunning migration to the United States +

To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Cunning were among those contributors:

Cunning Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patrick Cunning, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1844 [3]

New Zealand Cunning migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Cunning Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Margaret Cunning, (b. 1842), aged 25, British domestic servant travelling from London aboard the ship 'Mermaid' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 3rd January 1868 [4]


The Cunning Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Imperio regit unus aequo
Motto Translation: One governs with just sway.


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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