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Scope of Project

To build a single, validated and documented shared family tree for the Cunningham families, from earliest origins to near modern times.

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  • James Cunningham


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Clan Cunningham

Clan Cunningham is a Scottish clan. The clan does not currently have a clan chief|chief, therefore it is considered an Armigerous clan by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, though recently two contenders for the chiefship have emerged. Legal opinion is currently being sought and the best claimant will then petition Lord Lyon for recognition.



Traditionally, in 1059, King Malcolm rewarded Malcolm, son of Freskin|Friskin with the Thanedom of Cunninghame. Cunninghame is the northern part of Ayrshire.

The first known Cunningham was Warnebald Cunningham and then his son Robertus Cunningham. Warnebald was granted the lands of Cunninghame by Hugh de Morville in around 1115. Robertus received the lands of Cunningham between the years 1160 and 1180. The Clan Cunningham was well settled in their lands and the parish of Kilmaurs by the late 13th century. The Clan Cunningham fought for King Alexander III of Scotland at the Battle of Largs in 1263. As a result, for this service Hervy de Cunningham, the son of the Laird of Cunningham received a charter from King Alexander III of Scotland confirming all of their lands.

Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence the Clan Cunningham supported King Robert I of Scotland|Robert the Bruce of Scotland. Although their name previously appears on the Ragman Roll in 1296 where they swear allegiance to King Edward I of England. As a reward for supporting King Robert I of Scotland|Robert the Bruce of Scotland the Clan Cunningham were given the lands of Lamburgton to add to their existing lands.

Later during the 14th century Sir William Cunningham of Kilmaurs was one of the Scottish noblemen who were offered to the English as a substitute for the captured King David II of Scotland

His son William married Margaret, the elder daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Denniston and through her acquired substantial lands, including Finlaystone in Refrewshire and Glencairn in Dumfriesshire.

15th century and clan conflicts

In 1421 Henry Cunningham the third son of William Cunningham led the Cunninghams at the Battle of Beauge.

Sir Williams grandson Alexander Cunningham was made Lord Kilmaurs in 1462 and later the first Earl of Glencairn. During the revolt against King James III of Scotland Alexander brought a substantial force to support the King and defeated the rebels at the Battle of Blackness.

In 1488 the Clan Montgomery destroyed the Clan Cunningham's Kerelaw Castle. This was part of a century-long feud that had apparently started when the office of Baillie in Cuninghame, held by the Cunninghams, was awarded to the son of Lord Montgomerie on 31 January 1448-9.

Also in 1488 chief Alexander Cunningham, 1st Earl of Glencairn|Alexander Cunningham, Lord Kilmaurs was killed leading the clan in support of King James III of Scotland at the Battle of Sauchieburn. He was given the title of Earl of Glencairn for his service, but King James IV of Scotland revoked all titles given out by his father and Alexander's son Robert Cunningham was stripped of his title as 2nd Earl of Glencairn.

16th century and clan conflicts

During the 16th century the long running feud continued between the Clan Montgomery and the Clan Cunningham. Eglington House was burned down and the Montomery chief, 4th Earl of Eglington was killed by the Cunninghams. The government of King James VI of Scotland eventually managed to get the rival chiefs to shake hands.

In 1526 Cuthbert the 3rd Earl of Glencairn was wounded in a failed attempt to rescue King James V of Scotland from the Clan Douglas at the Battle of Linlithgow.

In 1542 William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn led the clan against the English at the Battle of Solway Moss where he was captured. He was released for a ransom of £1000.

The fifth Earl of Glecairn also called Alexander Cunningham was a Protestant reformer. He was also a patron of the reformer John Knox. In 1556 John Knox performed the first Protestant Reformed Communion service on Easter Sunday under a Yew tree at Finlaystone for the 5th Earl.

In 1568 Alexander Cunningham the 5th Earl of Glencairn led the clan at the Battle of Langside near Glasgow.

The Clan Cunningham fought against Mary, Queen of Scots, at the Battle of Carberry Hill where she was defeated. The Chief of the Clan Cunningham was one of the commanders at this battle. Alexander Cunningham is also reported to have ordered the destruction of the Chapel Royal at Holyrood.

17th century and Civil War

In 1643 Chief William Cunningham led the clan at the Battle of Kilayth to rescue the King from Oliver Cromwell but he was defeated.

During the Civil War, the Clan Cunningham supported King Charles II. Chief William Cunningham, 9th Earl of Glencairn, commanded the Royalist rising of 1651 to 1654|Royalist rising from 1653 to 1654 and raised a force of over 5000 in 1653 to oppose General Monck, who was the governor of Scotland. In August of the same year, William Cunningham went to Lochearn in Perthshire where he met with some of the Chiefs of the Highland clans. With a body of men he then took possession of Elgin in 1654.

18th century and Jacobite uprisings

During the Jacobite Uprisings the Clan Cunningham supported the British government. The Cunninghams fought at the Battle of Culloden in 1746 where Captain Cunningham commanded the British artillery which fired Grapeshot at the advancing Jacobites.


Clan Cunningham castles include:

  • Finlaystone Castle was the ancestral seat of the Clan Cunningham Chief, Earl of Glencairn between 1401 and 1796 and then passed to the Cunninghame Graham's of Gartmore until 1863 when it was sold.
  • Château de Cherveux in France was built in 1470 by Robert de Conyngham during the Auld Alliance after he served as the Captain of the King's Bodyguard for both French Kings Charles VII and Louis XI. Owned by François and Marie-Thérèse Redien, it is open to the public.
  • Kerelaw Castle was owned by the Clan Cunningham from the 15th century.
  • Auchenharvie Castle owned by the Cunninghams from at least the 17th century.
  • Dumbarton Castle was where four Cunninghams served as governors from as early as the 16th century. Inside is a coat of arms displaying the governors that served in the castle, spanning eight centuries from 1264 to 1996. The first three Cunningham coat of arms displayed are: 1571; John Cunningham the 6th Drumquhassil, 1692; John Cunningham the 11th Earl of Glencairn and 1714; Colonel William Cunningham the 12th earl of Glencairn. There was also a fourth Cunningham governor in the 20th century: 1955; Admiral Sir Angus Cunninghame Graham the 16th of Gartmore and 20th of Ardoch, whose dress uniform is on public display in the Governor's House.
  • Corsehill|Corsehill Castle, Stewarton.
  • Cunninghamhead Estate|Cunninghamhead Castle.
  • Corsehill|Robertland Castle, Stewarton.
  • Corsehill|Aiket Castle, Dunlop, East Ayrshire|Dunlop.
  • Thorntoun house and estate|Thorntoun Castle, Springside.
  • Corsehill|Lainshaw Castle, Stewarton.
  • Chapeltoun|Clonbeith Castle, Auchentiber.
  • Auchentiber and Montgreenan|Montgreenan Castle, Auchentiber.
  • Glengarnock Castle is a ruined keep, located on the River Garnock about 2 miles north of Kilbirnie.

See also

  • Cunningham - a list of famous Cunninghams
  • Lambroughton - The origins of the Cunninghames.
  • Cunninghamhead - Cunninghame family history.
  • Thorntoun house and estate - Cunninghame family history.
  • Corsehill - Cunninghame family history.
  • Cunninghamhead Estate - Cunninghame family history.
  • Cunninghamhead, Perceton and Annick Lodge- Cunninghame family history.
  • Clonbeith_Castle


Notable people with the family name include:

  • Aaron Cunningham, American baseball player
  • Abe Cunningham, American drummer
  • Alan Cunningham, British World War II general
  • Alexander Cunningham (1814–1893), British archaeologist, father of the Archaeological Survey of India
  • Alexander Cunningham, 1st Earl of Glencairn (1426–1488), a Scottish nobleman
  • Alexander Cunningham, 5th Earl of Glencairn (died 1574), a Scottish nobleman and covenanter
  • Alfred Austell Cunningham, aviation pioneer
  • Allan Cunningham or Allen Cunningham, several people
  • Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, British World War II admiral
  • Andy Cunningham or Andrew Cunningham, several people
  • Bill Cunningham, American radio talk show host
  • Billy Cunningham, American basketball player and coach
  • Bob Cunningham, Canadian football player
  • Bradford Cunningham, Attorney
  • Briggs Cunningham, American racing driver and team owner, sports car designer and manufacturer
  • Cal Cunningham, full name James Calvin Cunningham, III, (born 1973), Democratic state senator in North Carolina
  • Charles Cunningham, Royal Navy admiral
  • Chris Cunningham, British director and video artist
  • Colin Cunningham (swimmer), British swimmer
  • David Cunningham (musician) (born 1954), Northern Irish musician and artist
  • David Douglas Cunningham, Scottish doctor
  • Sir David Cunningham, Office of Works|Surveyor of the King's Works (1604–1606)
  • David Loren Cunningham (born 1971), American film director and producer
  • David S. Cunningham, III, lawyer and public servant in Los Angeles
  • Ebenezer Cunningham, British mathematician
  • Elaine Cunningham, American fantasy and science-fiction author
  • E. V. Cunningham, pseudonym of Howard Fast, an American writer
  • Evan Cunningham (musician) aka Young Casper, Rapper, songwriter, and engineer. From Houston, TX, and Greenfield, Massachusetts
  • Glenn Cunningham, several people
  • Imogen Cunningham, American photographer
  • J. V. Cunningham, American poet
  • Jack Cunningham, British politician
  • James Cunningham (Industrialist), manufacturer of carriages Rochester, N.Y. (+ 1886)
  • James Cunningham (Director), New Zealand film director
  • James Cunningham, 7th Earl of Glencairn, Scottish peer and ember of the Privy Council of Scotland
  • James Cunningham, 14th Earl of Glencairn, Scottish nobleman
  • James Cunningham (British Columbia politician) (1834–1925), former member of the Canadian House of Commons from British Columbia
  • James B. Cunningham, American diplomat, formerly the acting US ambassador to the UN
  • James Cunningham (Australian politician), Australian politician and President of the Senate
  • Jason D. Cunningham, USAF pararescue medic
  • Jeff Cunningham, American association football|football player, currently competing for FC Dallas
  • Jim Cunningham (UK politician) (born 1941), Labour MP in the United Kingdom
  • Jim Cunningham (ice hockey) (born 1956), ice hockey player in the National Hockey League
  • Jim Cunningham (American football), former NFL running back for the Washington Redskins
  • Jimmy Cunningham, former return specialist and wide receiver in the Canadian Football League and the XFL
  • John Cunningham (English VC), East Yorkshire Regiment
  • John Cunningham (Irish VC), Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment
  • John Cunningham (RAF officer), Group Captain, RAF Night Fighter Ace
  • John Cunningham (Royal Navy officer), British Wold War II admiral; First Sea Lord
  • John W. Cunningham, author of Western novels and stories
  • Johnny Cunningham, (1957–2003) Scottish folk musician
  • Joseph Cunningham (Industrialist), manufacturer of carriages and automobile pioneer, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Keiron Cunningham, British rugby league player
  • Kenny Cunningham, Irish footballer
  • Kristan Cunningham, American interior designer and television personality
  • Laurie Cunningham, English former footballer
  • Leland Cunningham, American astronomer and electronic computing authority
  • Merce Cunningham (1919–2009), American choreographer
  • Michael Cunningham, award-winning American novelist, author of The Hours
  • Owen Cunningham, Australian rugby league footballer
  • Patrick Cunningham (1878–1960), Irish politician
  • Phil Cunningham (folk musician), Scottish accordionist with the folk group Silly Wizard
  • Phil Cunningham (rock musician), English musician
  • Randy Duke Cunningham, U.S. Representative from California
  • Randall Cunningham, American football player
  • Robert Cunningham, any of several people
  • Scott Cunningham, writer
  • Tony Cunningham (footballer), Jamaican former footballer
  • Walter Cunningham, astronaut
  • Ward Cunningham, founder of the first wiki
  • William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn (c. 1490–1547), Scottish nobleman and intriguer


ca:Cunningham cs:Cunningham da:Cunningham de:Cunningham eo:Cunningham fr:Cunningham it:Cunningham ja:カニンガム pl:Cunningham ru:Каннингем (значения) sl:Cunningham vo:Cunningham


  • Cunningham is a surname of Scottish origin
  • Clan Cunningham, a Scottish clan



  • Division of Cunningham, an Australian Electoral Division in New South Wales
  • Electoral district of Cunningham, a State Electoral Division in Queensland, Australia
  • Cunninghams Gap, a pass over the Great Dividing Range between the Darling Downs and Brisbane areas

United States

  • Cunningham, Kansas
  • Cunningham Drive, New Jersey.


  • Cunningham (sailing), a device to adjust the sail shape on yachts
  • Briggs Cunningham, high-performance prototype automobiles built as racecars, 1951-1955
  • Cunningham automobile|Cunningham, U.S. American luxury car, 1907-1937
  • Cunningham Steam Wagon, U.S. American Steam Truck, 1900-1901

See also

  • Cunninghame, a district of Scotland

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