Cunninghame Family Crest / Cunninghame Coat of Arms
The surname of CUNNINGHAME was of territorial origin from the northern district of the name in Ayrshire. Now a widespread name, old families having divided into many branches, and many emigrated to Ireland in the 17th century. Richard de Cunningham appears as a witness to charters by Alan, son of Roland, Constable of Scotland between 1210-1233. Alexander de Kunignham witnessed the grant of Kirkbride Largs to the Nuns of North Berwick in 1190. William de Cuningham, vicar of Dundonald was threatened with excommunication in 1403. Robert Hammond and Elizabeth Cunningham were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1711. Allan Cunningham (1784-1842) was the Scottish poet and man of letters, born in the parish of Dalswinton, Dumfriesshire. At ten he was apprenticed as a stone-mason, but continued to pore over songs and stories. He moved to London and gained the acquaintance of Sir Walter Scott, and became one of the best known writers for The London Magazine. Among his works were 'Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry', 'Songs of Scotland', and 'The Lives of the most Eminent British Painters'. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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