Sir David Cunningham, 1st Baronet, of Auchinhervie

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Sir David Cunningham, 1st Baronet of Auchinhervie was the owner of Auchenharvie Castle in Ayrshire. A large number of his letters are preserved in the National Archives of Scotland.[1] As a minor courtier and administrator to Charles I in London he wrote letters to his cousin Sir David Cunningham, 1st Baronet of Robertland, grandson of the master of work David Cunninghame of Robertland.[2]

Arms of Sir David Cunningham at St Lukes, Charlton

Sir David Cunningham was a member of the circle of Sir Adam Newton, who lived at Charlton House, Kent. Newton, a fellow Scot, was tutor to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Newton and Cunningham continued as administrators for the Welsh and duchy incomes which funded Prince Henry's household after his death in 1612.His letters also discuss taking Newton's son Sir Henry Newton on an educational trip to France.[3] On the death of Adam Newton in 1629 Sir David and Peter Newton were charged as his executors to rebuild St Luke's Church at Charlton. The Cunningham arms can still be seen carved on the pulpit.[4]

Cunningham continued to administer revenue from Wales and duchy lands for Charles I as king: in 1633 he paid Thomas Howard, 1st Earl of Berkshire £100 for keeping horses for Charles.[5] Some of his accounts of the income and expenses of survive in the National Archives and in Ayrshire Archives.[6] Several warrants authorizing Sir David to pay accounts for the education of the royal children are in the State Papers.[7]

Nicholas Stone the master mason who worked with Inigo Jones recorded Sir David to be his 'great good friend' and 'very noble friend' when he paid for the monument of Sir Thomas Puckering, Adam Newton's brother-in-law, at St. Mary's Warwick and Adam Newton's own tomb at St. Luke's Charlton.[8] Sir David Cunningham built a house in Lincoln's Inn Fields now called Lindsey House.[9]

Cunningham's letters to his cousin include one describing the formation of secret brotherhood of courtiers.[10] Another letter describes a royal command for him to supervise building work at Berkhamsted Place in 1629 and his account for this survives counter-signed by Thomas Trevor, surveyor of works at Windsor Castle.[11] A survey of rentals in the Cunninghame district of Ayrshire circa 1640 listed him at £1553, among the largest landowners.[12]

Cunningham died early in 1659, and was buried at Charlton, in the church that he had helped to restore.[13] According to a later dispute over his estate, he had died a debtor in the King's Bench prison[14] In his will, Cunningham specified debts owing to him that totalled some £30,000, and declared debts he owed of about £6,000. A creditor obtained administration of his estate in 1665, but this award that was set aside by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1695, when Sir James Cunningham, administrator of Sir David Cunningham of Robertland and his son, obtained administration.[15]


  1. ^ See National Archives Catalogue on-line NAS OPAC; reference GD237/25
  2. ^ A letter describing a masquerade at Oxford is cited in The Canterbury Quadrangle, Howard Colvin, Oxford (1988)
  3. ^ National Archives of Scotland on-line catalogue, GD237/25.
  4. ^ A genealogical and heraldic history of the extinct and dormant baronetcies of England, John Burke (1838), 385.
  5. ^ HMC Laing Manuscripts, vol. 1, (1914), 192
  6. ^ National Archives TNA E 101/439/2,1632-5: Ayrshire Archives GB234 ATD5 1630-1.
  7. ^ For instance, Calendar of State Papers Domestic, Charles I, 1638, pp. 122, 179, 182, 191, 471, 494.
  8. ^ Notebook and Account Book of Nicholas Stone, ed. WL Spiers & AJ Finberg, 7th Volume of the Walpole Society, (1919), 5, 65-6, 76: Essays on English Architectural History, Howard Colvin (1999), 180, 181
  9. ^ Buildings Of England, London 4: North, (1998), 306, 307-8
  10. ^ Origins of Freemasonry David Stevenson, (1988),186-7
  11. ^ See NAS catalogue ; GD237/25/1 item 7: Folger Shakespeare Library, 265064
  12. ^ Dobie ed., Cuninghame topographized by Pont, Glasgow (1876), 396.
  13. ^ He made his will on 18 January (TNA, PROB 11/294/674), and was buried at Charlton St Luke on 7 February (parish register).
  14. ^ TNA, PROB 18/6/77.
  15. ^ TNA, PROB 11/294/674, including marginal notes of the later administrations.