Families linked to Clan Cunningham


Membership is open to everyone who has an interest in Scottish history, to persons descended from, or bearing the name of Cunningham, and to any of the following associated family names. No matter why you are here, you are welcome to join our growing family.

Associated Families of Clan Cunningham

Today, the history behind why many families became aligned to Clan Cunningham is lost to history. Some links were due to marriages. Others family names may appear in this list due to a younger son of a lord of one of the primary Cunningham estates taking the name of one of the family’s secondary estates, and in other cases other family names may appear due to an ancient inheritance, where to obtain the offered inheritance a lord bearing the name Cunningham was required to take the family name of the person who was the prior owner of an estate. Others have also argued that some of the names mentioned in this list were families who were not large and powerful enough to defend their own members and thus had to ally themselves with a more powerful clan chief, in order to receive protection.

It is also claimed that when a daughter married outside the clan, it appears that she could bring her new family in, as a so-called “sept.” This term being borrowed from the Irish culture in the 19th century, to help explain the variety of surnames by members of a single clan. For many, however, this explanation does not seem valid and it was certainly not used in all known cases, but the larger problem is the general term sept just appears strange, as it appears to suggests some degree of subservience to the ruling chief. That is the reason why we at CCG have chosen to no longer use this word.

For various reasons, over time, many families have chosen to aid Clan Cunningham. This help has been given in both peacetime and during wars. However, as with much of Scottish history, there is no surviving official record that lists all the families in the former District of Cunninghame and beyond who were allied to Clan Cunningham; and even amongst the current list there is, as might be expected, much disagreement between the various scholars. So, with all these various disclaimers, at the time of writing, the following family names are recognized by CCG and the CCSA as families with the strongest links to Clan Cunningham.

Chancellor: from a trade name for the official who kept registers of an order of knighthood. A family with this name lived in Lanarkshire prior to 1432. Records show a William Chancellor was merchant in Edinburgh in 1681.

Coon/Cooney: no record.

Flack: no record.

George: not uncommon in Prestwick in the 15th and 16th centuries. Records show an Archibald George was a burgess and councillor of Irvine in the former District of Cunningham, Ayrshire, 1597-1601.

Giffen: local name from Giffen in the parish of Beith in the former District of Cunningham, Ayrshire. Records show a William Giffen appointed councillor in 1710 in Corsehill. [Note: Griffen is a Welsh name.]

Gunion: from MacGunnion, which is from MacGillegunnin . Gunnin is the Welsh form of Finnen, which comes from the name of St. Findbarr of Moyville, whose death is recorded in 579. Records show a John Gunnion in Cammford, parish of Kirkinner in 1684; and Janet Gunnion in Baillieshire, Wigtown in 1788.

Gulliland: local name from Guliland near Dundonald in the former District of Cunningham, Ayrshire. Records show a John Guliland in the District of Cunningham in 1640.

Hackney: derives from Hackney in Middlesex (England). Records show an Adam Hakenay had a charter of lands in Ayr, 1316.

Hair/e/t / Hare: from Irish “O’hir” = a person from Ir. Both Hair and Hare were common in Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire, with names recorded as early as 1366. Records show Patrick Ahayre was bailie of Ayr in 1415; and a Patrick Hayre (same person?) was alderman in Ayr in 1430.

Hemphill: local name Hemphill, near Galston, Ayrshire. Records show a Robert Hemphill in 1689; and another Robert Hemphill in Stewartoune in 1704.

MacDuqurong: no record.

Power(s): from Old French “pohier” = a native of Picardy. Records show a William Poer was parson of Lumlair in 1227; and a Thomas Power sold a horse in 1312. Margaret Power was heir to Anna Cunninghame, spouse of Hugh Power, a merchant in Edinburgh in 1664.

Somercotes: Originates from Pope-elect Robert de Cunningham de Somercotes, whose death appears to have resulted in Clan Cunningham taking up the Bishop Pall Y as the Clan’s original coat of arms.

Stair/s: local name from the place Stair in Ayrshire.

Starret/t / Stirret/t / Stirrat / Sterrit: from the local name Stairaird (now Stirie) near Stair in Ayrshire. These variations were once common in the parish of Dalry in Ayrshire.

Stirie (ey): see above.

Winchester: probably from the town in England. Records show a Thomas de Wincestre of the county of “Are” (Ayr) rendering homage in 1296.

Woodburn/bourne: local name from places in Ayrshire, Midlothian and Kincardineshire.