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Arms The early CUNYNGHAME family Arms

Map of Cuninghame
The family of Cunynghame, also spelt Cuninghame or Cunningham, were associated with the county of Ayrshire, in Scotland, in medieval times. They were especially associated with the area also called Cunninghame, to the north of modern Ardrossan and Kilmarnock. The family survives in several lines but these pages are concerned with the early branches of the family.

The wholly reliable genealogy only starts with Sir William de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs, and the different secondary sources for Scottish genealogy disagree over his ancestry. Many of the generations and links are unproven. The most reliable of these secondary sources is The Scots Peerage. Other, less reliable, lines are to be found in Burke's Extinct Peerage and a manuscript written in 1740 by Robert Cunyngham, descendant of the line.

The line given in the Scots Peerage (as laid out in the soc.genealogy.medieval newsgroup by Jared Olar) is:

Map of Kilmaurs1. Vernebald or Warnebald

Vernebald had settled in Scotland from Flanders, and was a vassal of Hugo de Morville. Hugo granted him Kilmaurs, near Kilmarnock in Ayrshire.

2. Robert fitz Wernebald of Kilmaurs

Robert made a donation of the patronage of the church of Kilmaurs and other lands to the abbey of Kelso in about 1153.
The less reliable source Burke's Extinct Peerage says that this Robert of Kilmaurs married Richenda de Barclay, the heiress of Gairntully. This is impossible as she and her husband Robert fitz Wernebald lived much later.

3. Robert fitz Robert of Kilmaurs

Robert was living about 1188 and confirmed the grants made by his father. The link from him to the son given here is not certain.

4. Richard de Cunningham

The Scots Peerage proposes Richard as a probable son of Robert fitz Robert, but the link is not certain. Richard witnessed a charter of Alan, son of Roland, Constable of Scotland, some time between 1210 and 1233.

5. Hervey de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs

Hervey is famed in tradition for his gallant conduct against the Danes at the Battle of Largs in 1263. He had a charter for Kilmaurs from King Alexander III in 1264, and he founded the collegiate church at Kilmaurs.
According to Burke's Extinct Peerage, Hervey married the heiress of Riddell of Glengarnock, but she probably married his grandson Reginald. Burke's also wrongly attributed a son called Sir William de Cunynghame to Hervey, and described Edward as William's son and Hervey's grandson.
6. Edward de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs, maybe married Mary? Stewart, daughter of Alexander the Steward and Jean MacRory. He possibly died about 1285.
A member of the Cunynghame family certainly did marry an (unnamed) sister of James the Steward, but it may not have been Edward. The first names of Edward's two sons are not certain. Burke's says that Edward's son and heir was called Gilbert, but this confuses a man called Gilbert de Cuningburgh with the Cunynghame family. Another source gives Edward a second son called Richard, but he has not been identified.

7. Robert? de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs

Coat of arms
The name of Edward's eldest son is uncertain, but is said to be Robert. He swore fealty to Edward I of England but afterwards supported Robert Bruce. He was given a charter for the lands of Lambroughton and Grugere by King Robert Bruce in 1319.
The picture shows the arms borne by the Kilmaurs branch of the family in the 13th century.

8. Sir Hugh de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs

The Scots Peerage only makes Hugh a probable son of Robert.

An alternative descent is provided in Burke's Extinct Peerage, a work of lesser reliability than the Scots Peerage:

1. Vernebald
2. Robert fitz Vernebald; married Richenda, daughter of Sir Humphrey de Barclay of Gairntully.
3. Robert fitz Robert fitz Vernebald
4. unnamed son
5. unnamed son
6. Hervey de Cunynghame; married the heiress of Riddell of Glengarnock
7. Sir William de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs; died 1285.
8. Edward de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs, had unnamed brother[s]
9. Gilbert de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs; died 1292 [actually Gilbert de Cuningburgh, not a member of this family].
10. Sir Robert de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs; died 1330.
11. Sir William de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs

An interesting alternative to the above two sources is provided by Robert Cunyngham's Genologie of the Right Honorable the Earl of Glencairnís Family, written in manuscript in 1740 [thanks to John Ravilious for making this importance source available]. He provided a more detailed account of the line of succession:

1. Friskine
Coat of arms2. Malcolm, supposedly helped Malcolm (later King Malcolm III 'Canmore') escape from the clutches of Macbeth by forking hay over him. King Malcolm later granted Malcolm the Bailliedom of Cunninghame in Ayrshire, from which the family took its name. This was said to be the origin of the arms of the Cunningham family (shown on right), which show a hay fork, and of the family motto, 'Over Fork Over', which is what Malcolm was saying as Macbeth's men came to him.
(This story was drawn from the earlier work of Frederick van Bassen, a Norwegian, who wrote on the origins of some early Scottish families.)
3. Wernebald, possessor of Kilmaurs in Cunninghame in 1066.
4. Robert, son of Wernebald; married Richinda, daughter and heiress of Humphrey Barkley, of Guerntilly.
5. Robert, son of Robert, son of Wernebald
6. Stephen de Cunyngham; married Maud Morvill, daughter of Richard, Constable of Scotland. One of the fifteen hostages given to King Henry II of England for the release of King William the Lion of Scotland in 1174.
7. Richard Cunyngham
8. Fergus Cunyngham, mentioned in the Register of Paisley.
9. Hervie Cunyngham
10a. Edward Cunyngham, son of Hervie; mortifies the lands of Grange, in Kilmarnock parish, in the Abbey of Kilwinning.
10b. Gilmore Cunyngham, son of Hervie; sons Sir Robert (#11) and James (granted lands of Hessendane, ancestor of Bettan, Barnes and Siket branches). Gilmore renounces the alliance with France and swears allegiance to Edward I of England in 1296.
11. Sir Robert Cunyngham
12. Sir William de Cunynghame of Kilmaurs

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: 6 February 2000

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