Genealogical and Family History
of the

Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.

New York

[Please see Index page for full citation.]

[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]

[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]


This family is of Scotch (Scottish! scotch is a drink!) origin. The home of the clan bearing the name of Cunningham is in Ayrshire, where they were established and prominent as early as 1200. The family possesses the Earldom of Carrick and Glencairn and the Lordship of Cuninghame. From Ayreshire are descended all known branches of the family in England, Scotland and Ireland. According to family tradtion, the first settlers in Ireland were two of six brothers who won distinction under King James of Scotland, who became James I of England. The records show that among the first grantees of King James in Ireland were several of this name. In the precinct of Portlough, county Donegal, John Cunningham, of Crawford, Ayrshire, Scotland, received a grant of a thousand acres in 1610. At the same time James Cunningham, Laird of Glangarnocke, Ayrshire, received two grants, one of a thousand, the other of two thousand acres in the same precinct, and Cuthbert Cunningham, of Glangarnocke received a thousand acres. Alexander Coningham, of Powton, Gentleman, of Sorbie, Wigtonshire, Scotland, also had a thousand acres in the precinct of Boylagh, county Donegal. There is reason to believe that Glangarnocke, Ayrshire, was the original home of the family, and one of these settlers was the progentor of the branch given herewith. History tells us that Sir James Cunningham took possession of his grant of two thousand acres, but returned to Scotland. His agent, Robert Young, built one Irish barn of coples; he "hath forty-four head of cattle, one plow of garrons, and some tillage at last harvest. Three families of British resident on his proportion, preparing to build; as yet no estate passed to them." "John Cunningham of Crawfield," the Carew manuscript just quoted says, "one thousand acres, resident with one family of British, is building a bawn, and preparing materials; hath a plow of garrons, and thirty head of cattle. Cuthbert Cunningham, one thousand acres; resident with two families of British; built an Irish house of coples, and prepared materials to re-edigy the castle of Coole McEctrean; hath a plow of garrons, and 80 head of cattle in stock." This document is dated July 29, 1611, and refers to the land granted as above. As Sir James returned to Scotland, we may assume that these two other Cunninghams, whose grants were evidently together, as all three are mentioned together in the records, were the two brothers traced in the tradition as the settlers from Scotland. Another Cunningham, Alexander, mentioned above, of Powton Elder, had not appeared and perhaps never did, and another James Cunningham, of Horomilne, returned to Scotland in the fall of 1611, leaving his herd of cows and six servants, but had made no preparations for a permanent stay. The next official report of the settlement under date of 1619, shows progress in the settlements of Sir James, John and Cuthbert Cunningham.

(I) Thomas Cunningham, immigrant ancestor, was of Scotch-Irish descent, and undoubtedly descended from one of the three brothers mentioned above. He settled first in Townsend, Mass., and removed to Peterborough, New Hampshire. He was born in 1706. He resided just north of the Deacon Field place, on the same side of the road, in Peterborough. He died Sept. 23, 1790, aged eighty-four.
He married (first) Elizabeth _____, born 1706, died in Townsend, May 17, 1748. He married (second) Elizabeth Creighton, who died April 22, 1805, aged ninety-nine years.
1. John, removed to Maine.
2. William, removed to Maine.
3. James, married Mary Nay.
4. Samuel, born July, 1739, mentioned below.
5. Elizabeth, married Alexander Robie.
6. Mary, married (first) James McKean; (second) Samuel Treadwell.
7. Moses, born 1751, married Elizabeth Miller; died Oct. 25, 1822.
8. Thomas, removed to Maine.

(II) Captain Samuel, son of Thomas Cunningham, was born in July, 1739, died in Feb., 1828. It is said that Thomas Cuningham (son of "Old Mose," so called) and Samuel Cunningham were in the French was in 1756, when he was only seventeen years old, and that in the Rogers fight, March 13, 1758, he and Alexander Robbe only escaped, while seven men from Peterborough were slain. He was in the Revolution and answered the Lexington alarm, April 19, 1775. He was a captain and was with the army in Rhode Island in 1778. He was a lieutenant in a company raised in Peterborough and New Ipswich to resist the progress of Burgoyne, and joined the army at Bennington, Vermont. When the company had fallen into an ambuscade of the British, Cunningham's coolness saved it. Dunbar, in his Historical Collections, says: "With the voice of a lion he called out to one of the officers to bring up a body of five hundred men to flank the enemy; at which the tories fled, leaving behind them all their baggage and plunder, and an open and unmolested road to the main army."
He held many town offices; was selectman, town clerk and representative several years. He resided on the place afterwards occupied by Captain Swan, in the east part of the town. Late in life he removed to Belfast, Maine, where he died.
He married, in 1774, Susan Carter, of Hollis, born June 27, 1756, died Oct., 1842.
1. Susanna, born April 1, 1778, married Thomas Cunningham; died in Belfast.
2. Thomas, born Feb. 10, 1780, married Charlotte Elwell; died in Belfast.
3. Mary, born Feb. 6, 1782, married Samuel Jackson; died in Belfast.
4. Elizabeth, born March 15, 1784, married Thomas Caldwell.
5. Sarah M., born May 4, 1786, married James Cunningham Jr.
6. Rachel, born May 10, 1788, married Zaccheus Porter; resided at Belfast.
7. Jane, born June 10, 1790, married Hudson Bishop; died in Belfast, Jan. 21, 1874.
8. Samuel, born Nov. 5, 1792, married Eliza Dummer; resided in Bucksport, Maine; died Nov., 1870.
9. William, born June 17, 1795, mentioned below.
10. James, born Jan. 5, 1800, died in Belfast, unmarried.

(III) William, son of Capt. Samuel Cunningham, was born in Peterborough, June 17, 1795, died Sept. 9, 1871. He resided at Belfast and Montville, Maine. He married Charlotte Nesmith, daughter of James Nesmith.
1. Helen, unmarried, died June 16, 1878.
2. William A., died April 13, 1860.
3. Jane, married Charles H. Lunt, of South Paris; she died Feb. 1, 1904.
4. Sarah, married James Nesmith, of New York; died Dec. 22, 1900.
5. Edward J., died May 3, 1901, in New York.
6. Annie S., married Leonard Cooper, of Belfast, Maine.

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