Francis Cunningham (Indian Army officer)

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Francis Cunningham (1820–December 3, 1875) was an officer in the Madras Army, member of the Mysore Commission, and a literary editor.

Francis Cunningham was the son of the poet Allan Cunningham and the younger brother of Joseph Davey and Alexander Cunningham, who also spent most of their working lives in India.[1]

The brothers' cadetships were obtained through a friend of their father's, Sir Walter Scott, who was extremely friendly with Robert Dundas and others with a Scottish background who had been or were at the Board of Control. After undergoing training at the Military Seminary of the British East India Company at Addiscombe, then in Surrey, Francis was gazetted as an Ensign and posted to the 23rd Madras Native Infantry in 1838.

In his army service he distinguished himself as a Field Engineer, with Robert Sale at Jalalabad, during the 1st Afghan War. In 1850, he was posted to the Mysore Commission, headquartered at Bangalore as Secretary to the Commission and was acting as a deputy to Sir Mark Cubbon, the Chief Commissioner at Bangalore. Here, apart from playing an active role in developing the Horticultural Gardens at Lalbagh, he undertook many constructions including the one he built for Sir Mark Cubbon in the nearby Nandi Hills and possibly, a large bungalow in Bangalore, known as the Balabrooie. Unfortunately, documentation on this period of Bangalore's history is sparse.

When Cubbon retired and left Bangalore in 1861, Cunningham stayed on in a private capacity, lobbying on behalf of the deposed Maharaja Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar III, arguing that he should be allowed to adopt an heir and that the kingdom should be restored to him. As Cunningham was an extremely effective writer, this caused endless headaches for the next Chief Commissioner, Lewin Bentham Bowring. When Cunningham did go back, he pursued his literary activity, editing the works of Kit Marlowe in 1870 and Philip Massinger and Ben Jonson in 1872. Toward the end of his life he was working on a new edition of his brother Peter Cunningham's Handbook to London. He died on the 3 December 1875.[1]

Cunningham Road in Bangalore is named after him.


  1. ^ a b Vibart, H.M. (1894). Addiscombe: its heroes and men of note. Westminster: Archibald Constable. p. 459.