In the year 1050, the Head of Chief of the Cunningham family of
England traveled to Scotland where he aided the Scottish Prince Malcolm, Son
of King Duncan of Scotland who was killed by MacBeth in 1040. MacBeth also
pursued Prince Malcolm and as a result Malcolm was hidden by the Cunningham
Chief in a barn under some hay to escape MacBeth. MacBeth was King until
1057, but was defeated by Prince Malcolm at the Battle of Dunismore near
Perth. MacBeth was later killed at Lusmphaven.
When Malcom became King Malcolm III of Scotland, he rewarded the
Cunningham's with a significant armorial emblem consisting of a Black Hay
Fork centered on a Silver Shield and bearing the motto "OVER FORK OVER".
The family Cunningham take their name from the district of
Cunningham in northern Ayrshire. The land of Kilmaurs of that area was
granted in 1162 by Hugo de Moreville, Constable of Scotland to a Flemish
(French) vassal named Warnebald and it is from his descendants that the
Cunningham family originate.
When Haahon the IV, King of Norway, brought his fleet to the
Scottish coast in 1263 to assert his sovereignty over the Western Isles,
Harvey de Cunningham of Kilmaurs was among those who helped to repel Haahon
at the Battle of Largs in 1263. As a result, Harvey de Cunningham was
awarded the lands of Kilmaurs by confirmation from Alexander II.
FIRST EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
Hugh Cunningham of Kilmaurs, grandson of Harvey de Cunningham, was
granted the lands of Lamburgton in 1321 by King Robert the Bruce. When Hugh
Cunningham's grandson, Sir William Cunningham, married Margaret, daughter of
Sir Robert Dennieston, the Cunninghams extended their possessions further to
include Glencairn. His grandson, Sir Alexander de Cunningham was created
Lord Kilmaurs in 1462 and later EARL OF GLENCAIRN in 1488 by King James III
who bestowed titles based on men who exhibited culture and talent. However,
this first Earl of Glencairn died with King James III at the Battle of
Sauchieburn that very same year.
THIRD EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
William Cunningham, Third Earl of Glencairn, was captured at Solway
Moss, but later was released in exchange for support of the marriage of Mary
Queen of Scots to King Edward VI of England.
FIFTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
The Fifth Earl of Glencairn, also named Alexander Cunningham, was a
supporter of the Reformation and a member of the religious group The Lords
of the Congregation of Jesus Christ. The activities of this group were
quite unsavory in that they embezzled Church property and furthered
England's political airms in Scotland in return for English gold. The Fifth
Earl was a special patron of John Knox who established Protestantism in
Scotland. By selling military information to Cecil of England, the Fifth
Earl of Glencairn was able to join Queen Mary's half-brother, Moray, in
rebellion against her and held command among her enemies at Carbury where
she finally surrendered in 1567 only to be imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle.
Moray then secured the Regency and took his Sister's jewelry, sending her
famous pearl necklace to their cousin, Queen Elizabeth I of England. The
Fifth Earl of Glencairn then went to the chapel at Holyrood Palace,
residence of Queen Mary, and destroyed all of her furniture and paintings.
These acts ultimately led to the destruction of Regent Mary of Guise and her
daughter, Mary Queen of Scots from the house of Tudor. In the process, the
Fifth Earl of Glencairn's Protestant sentiments also fueled the
long-standing feud between the Cunninghams and the Montgomeries, Earls of
EIGHTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
The Eighth Earl of Glencairn had a daughter, Anna, born in 1593.
Their family were Presbyterians, being strong and contentious. Anna married
James, the Second Marquis of Hamilton born in 1590, becoming Lady Anna
Cunningham. Living in Hamilton Palace, they had three children--James
Hamilton, (1606-1649) Third Marquis and 1st. Duke of Hamilton; William
Hamilton, (1616-1651) Earl of Lanock and 2nd. Duke of Hamilton; and a
NINTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
The Ninth Earl of Glencairn, William Cunningham, was born in 1610.
In 1641 he was appointed Privy Counselor and Commissioner of the Treasury in
Scotland. In 1646 he became Lord Justice General of Scotland. He carried
the better tradition of the First Earl of Glencairn by returning to the
Stewart side and raised an Army in the Highlands in 1653 in support of
Charles II. The throne of England was under Cromwell's tyranny and
Glencairn helped Charles II's attempt to regain the throne. However, the
clan's uprising against Cromwell did not succeed, but following the
Restoration in 1660, the Ninth Earl of Glencairn was appointed Lord
Chancellor of Scotland. He died in 1664.
THIRTEENTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
The Thirteenth Earl of Glencairn married Leezie McGuire, eldest
daughter of Hugh and Belle McGuire, receiving land and jewelry valued at
70,000 Pounds from her Uncle James McRae upon her marriage. Leezie's
sisters also married well with the second daughter becoming the Lady Alva,
the third daughter having an estate in Dumfrieshire, and the fourth daughter
married to one of the Dalyromples of Orangefield in Ayrshire. Leezie's
second son, James, became the Fourteenth Earl of Glencairn.
FOURTEENTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
The Fourteenth Earl of Glencairn, James Cunningham, was a friend of
Robert Burns the Scottish poet. Upon James' death in 1791, Burns wrote:
THE EARL OF GLENCAIRN"
why has worth so short a date?
Bridegroom may forget the Bride
made his wife yesterday;
Monarch may forget the Crown
on his head an hour has been;
Mother may forget the child
smiles so sweetly on her knee;
I'll remember thee, Glencairn
all that thou has done for me!
Under the Clanship of the Fourteenth Earl of Glencairn, two brothers
were born; Thomas Cunningham in 1765 and Allen Cunningham in 1766, both sons
of a farmer in Dumfrieshire. Both became poets and writers. Allen was more
successful and became a friend of James Hogg, Sir Walter Scott, Chantecy the
Sculptor and Robert Burns. Thomas was a poet and songwriter during the
Golden Age of Scottish Literature.
FIFTEENTH EARL OF GLENCAIRN:
John Cunningham, the Fifteenth Earl of Glencairn died in 1796
leaving no heirs. Thus the Earldom became dormant although the undisputed
claimant to the Chiefship today descends from the Cunninghams of Corsehill.
Information provided by Linda Edwards.
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