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Arms The CUNYNGHAME family of Glencairn Arms

Map of Cuninghame
The senior line of the ancient family of Cunynghame of Kilmaurs, in Ayrshire (also spelt Cuninghame or Cunningham) became the Earls of Glencairn in the mid 15th century, during the reign of King James III of Scotland. The earldom became dormant on the death of the 15th earl, the final member of the male line, in 1796, but this chart continues only until the early 17th century.

1. Alexander de Cunynghame, Lord of Kilmaurs, Earl of Glencairn, son of Sir Robert de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs; married Margaret Hepburn, daughter of Sir Adam Hepburn of Hailes and Janet Borthwick. Alexander was killed on 11 June 1488 at the Battle of Sauchieburn, near Stirling, Scotland.

Map of GlencairnAlexander was created Lord Kilmaurs in about 1450. In 1460 he petitioned the Pope with regard to his right to present to the parish of Glencairn (in west Nithsdale, Dumfriesshire). He was created a Lord of Parliament as Lord Kilmaurs in 1463/64. He was a strong supporter of James III against the rebel nobles headed by Prince James, and he defeated the rebel forces at Blackness. This was probably why he was created Earl of Glencairn on 28 May 1488. He also got a grant of land for himself and his heirs. The king was defeated at the Battle of Sauchieburn shortly after and the earl was killed alongside the king, possibly by Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton. His earldom was revoked by the new King James IV's parliament, but was later recovered by his successors.

2. Robert Cunningham, Lord Kilmaurs, 2nd Earl of Glencairn; married before 19 Jul 1476 to Christian Lindsay (died between 1491/92 and 11 Mar 1495/96), eldest daughter of John, 1st Lord Lindsay of the Byres. Robert died about 1490.

Robert lost his earldom after a few months because his father had fought on the losing side at Sauchieburn, and sat in Parliament in 1489 as Lord Kilmaurs. Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton is said by some sources to have been involved in Robert's death.

3. Cuthbert Cunningham, 3rd Earl of Glencairn; married (contract dated 24 June 1492) to Lady Mariot or Marion Douglas (died after Jul 1511), eldest daughter of Archibald, 5th Earl of Angus and Elizabeth Boyd. Cuthbert died between 23 May 1540 and May 1541.

The Dictionary of National Biography wrongly calls Cuthbert Robert. He had a number of charters as Lord Kilmaurs but had regained his grandfather's earldom by 1503. He tried unsuccessfully to rescue King James V from the control of the Douglas family, but was defeated at Linlithgow on 4 September 1526.

4. William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn; born about 1493; married (1) before 10 Jul 1509 to Katherine Borthwick (died after 17 Jan 1527/28), daughter of William, 3rd Lord Borthwick; married (2) after Jan 1535/36 to Margaret or Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of John of West Loudoun and/or Stephenson. William died in Mar 1547/48.

William was knighted before 10 July 1509. He was High Treasurer of Scotland in 1526 and went on an embassy to France in 1538. He was taken prisoner by the English after the Scottish defeat at the Battle of Solway Moss in late 1542, but was ransomed for £1000. In 1543, William was appointed plenipotentiary to negotiate a peace with England, and he became a promoter of English interests in Scotland and received a pension from the English. He was defeated by the Earl of Arran in 1544 and had to flee to England with his eldest son. Nevertheless, he deserted the English cause in autumn 1544 (the English Lord Chancellor complained of the deceit of 'the old fox and his cub'). The Scottish Parliament granted his a remission from all his treasons at the end of 1544, and he became a Privy Councillor in 1545. He was an early supporter of Protestantism in Scotland.

5. Alexander Cunningham, 5th Earl of Glencairn; married (1) about 26 November 1526 (divorced before 11 Jul 1545) to Joan or Janet Hamilton, daughter of James, Earl of Arran; married (2) by settlement dated 22 Jan 1549/50 to Janet Cunningham, daughter of Sir John, 4th Laird of Caprington. Alexander died on 23 Dec 1574.

Alexander was known as 'the Good Earl' because he was one of the first lords to suuport the Protestant Reformation; he was a zealous Presbyterian by 1540. He was a destroyer of images at Holyrood Chapel and many other churches. He went to England in 1543 as a hostage for his father, but returned in 1544. He led 2500 men against Marie de Guise, the Queen Regent, in 1559, and had high command of the Presbyterian forces against Mary, Queen of Scots at Carberry Hill in 1567 and at Langside in 1568. He bore the sword at the coronation of King James VI in 1567, and was made Joint Lieutenant of the West of Scotland.

6. William Cunningham, 6th Earl of Glencairn; married before 24 Aug 1549 to Janet Gordon (died 18 Nov 1596), daughter of Sir John of Lochinvar and Margaret Crichton. William died between 1576 and 24 Feb 1579/80.

7. James Cunningham, 7th Earl of Glencairn; born about 1552; married (1) Mariot or Margaret Campbell (died June 1610), daughter of Sir Colin of Glenurchy and Catherine Ruthven; married (2) before 14 Jul 1612 to Agnes Hay, daughter of Sir James of Kingask. James died after Mar 1630.

James was one of the Protestant lords who seized King James VI from his advisors in the Raid of Ruthven in 1582. He was later a Privy Councillor to King James VI and was one of the commissioners for the projected union with England in 1604 (it did not take place until 1707).

8. William Cunningham, 8th Earl of Glencairn; married about 1609 to Lady Janet Ker, 2nd daughter of Mark, 1st Earl of Lothian and Margaret Maxwell. William died in Oct 1631.

Go to other family branches:

Early  |  Kilmaurs  |  Glencairn  |  Cunninghamhead  |  Craigends

View the sources used in the construction of these pages.


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Created: 17 December 1999
Last modified: 14 November 2005

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