The Origin of the Name

This surname is derived from a geographical locality. ‘of Cunningham,’ a district in North Ayrshire, whence the old earls of Glencairn. Conyngham and Cunynghame are varieties of this name.

— Patronymica Britannica (1860) by Mark Antony Lowe

From the district of Cunninghame in Ayrshire. Malcolm Canmore being hotly pursued by Macbeth took refuge in a barn, where a countryman called Malcolm the son of Friskin, concealed him by forking hay or straw over him; on the accession of Malcolm Can-more to the throne he granted to his deliverer the Thanedom of Cunninghame, and for his arms, argent a shake fork sable, with the motto, “Over fork over.”

— The Origin and Signification of Scottish Surnames (1862) by Clifford Stanley Sims (1839-1896)

Scottish Forebears

Our ancestors reach back into Ayrshire and the Bo’ness area of West Lothian close by. Thus Gilbert Cunninghame (1668-1724) and his wife Margaret Dundass (1665) were the 7th great grandparents of the Sargison brothers.

The line may go back further to Sir Robert Cunningham, the 4th Lord of Cunninghamhead( 1490 and his wife Lady Margaret Moire Mure (1490). The former, incidentally, died in Turkey.

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NZ Cunninghams

The House of Names researchers identified the following initial settlers in NZ

• 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 [13]

• Mr. William Cunningham, British settler arriving as Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship “Sir George Seymour” arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [13]

• Mrs. Mary Ann Cunningham, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship “Sir George Seymour” arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th November 1847 [13]

• Mr. James Cunningham, Scottish settler travelling from Greenock aboard the ship “Philip Laing” arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 15th April 1848 [13]

https://www.houseofnames.com/cunningham-family-crest#:~:text=The%20ancestors%20of%20the%20name,lived%20at%20Cunningham%20in%20Ayrshire.

Our particular line of Cunninghams are not amongst them.

The Waitaki Cunninghams

Lawrence in 1860s, Muir & Moodie

Map of region – red is the Hyde Macraes shear zone. In its basement schist lies the source of the Macraes Mine’s gold today.