The following are
the various spellings of the name "Cunningham" which
are associated with Clan Cunningham:
all of the above with a "K" in place of the "C"
The following names
are associated family names (or "septs") of Clan Cunningham:
The name Cunningham, which
according to some may signify "courage in battle,"
could have come from "Cunedda" who was a king of the
"Gododdin," a Celtic branch of Britons known by the
Romans as the "Votadini." When the Dalriada Scots
emigrated from Ireland in about 500AD, they were confronted by
the Strathclyde Britons, the Gododdin Britons and the Picts.
The name Cunedda eventually led to the names and words Cyning,
Kynge and finally King. The "ham" signifies "hamlet"
or small town and was probably added in Norman times.
Still others claim that in
the Celtic language Cunedda was rendered as Cinneidigh (meaning
ugly or grim-headed). The name gradually became especially
associated with the district of Carrick in Ayrshire, Scotland.
The word "cunning"
could mean "coney" or rabbit. This theory is
popular because the coat of arms of the Earls of Glencairn reflects
two coneys as the supporters. It is interesting to note
that in a Gaelic on-line dictionary, the word "coney"
(or rabbit) translates as "coinean" and the name Cunningham
translates as "coineagan." Another translation
is "milk pail" from the Gaelic word "cuineag."
This theory seems the least plausible.
Despite these different translations,
it seems safe to say that the district took its name from the
original Cunedda family of Britons. In the twelfth century,
Hugh de Moreville granted the manor of Cunninghame and most of
the parish of Kilmaurs to his loyal warrior, Wernebald, progenitor
of the Earls of Glencairn. The land which Wernebald received
had been named Cunninghame for several centuries.
In the 12th century many landowners
assumed the name of their estates as a last name, as did Wernebald's
sons and grandsons. Eventually Cunningham became the name
of the northern third of Ayrshire. Up until 1975, the County
of Ayrshire had three districts: Cunninghame in the north,
Kyle in the center and Carrick in the south.
Clan Cunningham was a Lowland
Family, as opposed to a Highland Clan. Historically, few
of the worldly Lowlanders communicated with the Highlanders whom
they saw as savage, dangerous and ignorant. Like the ancient
Romans, Lowlanders mostly ignored their heathen neighbors to
the North. Even the Scottish kings found it difficult to
control the Highlanders, so they looked to Lowland families like
the Cunninghams and the Earls of Glencairn, for support.
Finlaystone, the ancestral
home of the Clan Cunningham, is located along the Clyde River
in Renfrewshire, near Langbank. It came to the Cunninghams
in 1405 when Sir William Cunningham, Lord of Kilmaurs, married
Margaret, the daughter of Sir Robert Danielston of that Ilk,
who presented his new son-in law with Finlaystone in Renfrewshire,
Glencairn in Dumfriesshire, Danielston and Kilmarnock.
William's grandson, Alexander, became the first Earl of Glencairn