Cunningham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Cunningham family

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." [1]

Early History of the Cunningham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Cunningham research. Another 118 words (8 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.

Cunningham Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Cunningham family (pre 1700)

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.

Ireland Migration of the Cunningham family to Ireland

Some of the Cunningham family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Cunningham migration to the United States +

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 [2]
  • William Cunningham, who landed in Virginia in 1658 [2]
  • Darby Cunningham, who arrived in Maryland in 1663 [2]
  • Margaret Cunningham, who landed in Maryland in 1668 [2]
  • Daniel Cunningham, who landed in Maryland in 1673 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cunningham Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ann Cunningham, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1729 [2]
  • Miles Cunningham, who landed in Virginia in 1769-1770 [2]
  • Henry Cunningham, who landed in Florida in 1771 [2]
  • Agnes Cunningham, aged 24, who landed in New York in 1774 [2]
  • Jean Cunningham, aged 26, who arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1775 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cunningham Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Patt Cunningham, aged 30, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804 [2]
  • Robert W Cunningham, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1804 [2]
  • John Cunningham, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [2]
  • Hugh Cunningham, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [2]
  • Nicholas Cunningham, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1809 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cunningham Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Robert Anderson Cunningham, who arrived in Alabama in 1927 [2]

Canada Cunningham migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

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
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Cunningham Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Cunningham, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • John Cunningham, aged 18, who 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
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Cunningham migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

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 [3]
  • Skirwin Cunningham, a smith, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. William Cunningham, (b. 1802), aged 32, Irish engineman, born in Derry, Ireland who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years for assault, transported aboard the "Bengal Merchant" on 27th September 1834, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Cunningham, British Blacksmith and Farmer who was convicted in Bristol, England for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land)1836, he died in 1891 [5]
  • Caroline Cunningham, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Cunningham 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:

Cunningham Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J Cunningham, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Dr. R. N. Cunningham, British settler arriving as the 1st detachment of Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps travelling from Tilbury, Essex aboard the ship "Ramillies" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 6th August 1847 [7]
  • Mr. William Cunningham, British settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [7]
  • Mrs. Mary Ann Cunningham, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Sir George Symour" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [7]
  • Mr. James Cunningham, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Philip Laing" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th April 1848 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Cunningham (post 1700) +

  • Fern Cunningham (1949-2020), American sculptor, best known for Harriet Tubman Memorial, honoring a woman on city-owned land in Boston
  • Mrs. Colette Margaret Catherine Cunningham B.E.M., British Director for Scottish North American Business Council and Events Manager for CBI Scotland was appointed the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to Business and Public Service [8]
  • Anthony "T. J." Cunningham (1972-2019), American National Football League safety who played for the Seattle Seahawks in 1996
  • Bennie Lee Cunningham Jr. (1954-2018), American football tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1976-1985)
  • David Surmier "Dave" Cunningham Jr. (1935-2017), American business executive and politician elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1973
  • 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) [9]
  • Brigadier-General James Hutchings Cunningham (1886-1963), American Commanding Officer 14th Coast Artillery Regiment (1939-1941) [10]
  • 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
  • ... (Another 27 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. James J. Cunningham, British Cook from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [11]
  • Mr. Robert Alexander Cunningham (1889-1914), British First Class Passenger returning from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [12]
Halifax Explosion
  • Mrs. Helen  Cunningham (1868-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [13]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Richard F Cunningham (b. 1914), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Luton, Bedfordshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [14]
  • Mr. John Cunningham (b. 1920), English Able Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Hull, Yorkshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [14]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Edward Wilfred Cunningham (d. 1939), British Corporal with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Edward Cunningham, English Able-Bodied Seaman from England, who worked aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [16]
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 [17]
  • Mr. B. Cunningham (d. 1912), aged 30, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [17]
  • 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 [17]
SS Alcoa Puritan
  • S.G. Cunningham, American Oiler from Prichard, Alabama, who was working aboard the SS Alcoa Puritan traveling from Port of Spain, Trinidad to Mobile, Alabama when it was torpedoed by U-boat U-507; he survived the sinking [18]


Suggested Readings for the name Cunningham +

  • 175 "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.

  1. ^ Sims, Clifford Stanley The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames. 1862. Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1823 with 151 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1823
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bengal-merchant
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1835
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1835 with 132 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1835
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/62310/supplement/B1
  9. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 23) Julian Cunningham. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Cunningham/Julian_Wallace/USA.html
  10. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, November 23) James Cunningham. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Cunningham/James_Hutchings/USA.html
  11. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  12. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  13. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  14. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  15. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  16. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  17. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  18. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Alcoa_Puritan_(1941) - (Retrieved 2018, February 8th)


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