This surname is of Scottish origin. Derived from Clan Cunningham, the spellings are believed to include Cuninghame, Cunninghame, Coningham, Conningham, Conaghan, Congram, Conigham, Cunihan, Cunnahan, Kennigan, Kinnegan, Kinaghan, Kingan, Kinghan, Kinnighan, Kinahan and no doubt others. It is medieval and locational from the manor of Cunninghame, situated near Kilmarnock, and also a former territorial division of the county of Ayrshire. The place name is first recorded as Cunegan in the year 1153, the spelling being Olde English of uncertain origin. Locational surnames were originally given to the lord of the manor and his descendants, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. The main branch of the family can trace their ancestry back to Wernebald, a vassal of the Norman-French nobleman, Hugh de Morville. Wenebald obtained the manor of Cunningham from Hugh de Morville in the 12th century. Early recordings from this time include: Alexander de Kuningham, in the charters of North Berwickshire, in 1190, whilst in 1403, William de Cuningham was the vicar of Dundonald. Notable bearers of the name were William Cunningham, earl of Glencairn and Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, in 1526; and Sir Charles Cunningham (1755 - 1834). He was the first lieutenant of HMS Hinchingbroke, and served with Horatio Nelson in 1779. The coat of arms borne by the earls of Glencairn has the blazon of a silver shield charged with a black shakefork, the crest being a silver unicorn's head couped, the motto "Over fork over". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Cunningham, which was dated 1210, in the "Ancient Records of the Scots Peerage", during the reign of King William of Scotland, known as "The Lion", 1165 - 1214.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017