Cunningham - Multi Choice.... Any others?
Whilst BTN offers this explanation - From a place name in the Ayrshire district of Scotland. Possibly comes from the Gaelic cuinneag meaning "milk pail", or coney and hame meaning "rabbit home".There are several other possible explanations1) meaning descendent of Con, which itself means leader (Ireland). 2) from a place name of the same name in Ayrshire, near Kilmarnock. Cunningham the first element cunning as in sly/devious from the original meaning that of Witch. Therefore meaning the witch's homestead. 3) Cunning is from the Old Scandinavian konungr meaning king.4) It relates to rabbits, in a old form of coney, as coning or conig, the northern form of which was cuning. As mention in BTNIf wonder if any other Surname has generated so many possible explanations? It is interesting also to see 4 complete different meanings.....Thoughts, for or against welcome?
vote up1vote down


Quoting Basil Cottle's "Penguin Dictionary of Surnames" -
"Johnston's derivation as ?'milk pails' sounds impossible; form c. 1150 was Cunegan, and the modern spelling, especially the -ham suffix, is the work of an anglicised scribe ..."
However, Nicolaisen, "Scottish Place-Names", discusses this, and mentions a reference to a Cunningham in Bede's History. But his opinion is that Bede refers to a lost Durham place name, and that the original of Cunningham was Celtic.
Also Cunningham has been adopted as an English version by several Irish families with original names such as Ó Cuinnegáin, Ó Connagáin, Ó Connacháin, et al., all based in Northern Ireland and doubtless indistinguishable from Cunninghams of Ulster Scots descent.
vote up1vote down