Cunningham/South Family Origins

(The following is from the Cunningham files of Legacy Keeper Sandra Scott. The source of this information is unknown.)

The Cunningham Family Name Origins

The Scottish surname Cunningham is local in origin, being one of those names derived from the place where a man once lived or held land.  In this case it is derived from the place name Cunningham in the northern district of Ayreshire on the west coast of Scotland. Today the surname is found throughout Scotland and elsewhere, its old families having divided into many branches, and it is even quite numerous in France where it was carried by early Scottish emigrants.  The place name means “rabbit farm” from the Gaelic word “coinin”, meaning “rabbit”.

Early recorded instances of the name include a reference to Wernebald who obtained the manor and vil of Cunningham from his feudal superior, Hugh de Morville, in the twelfth century and subsequently adopted the place name as his own, and Alexander de Kuningham who witnessed a grant of land to the nuns of north Berwick in 1190.  Finally, William de Cuningham, Vicar of Dundonald, was threatened with excommunication for interfering in the affairs of the Poor House of Polmadie in 1404.

Cunningham is among the seventy-five most numerous surnames in Ireland and is found distributed over all four provinces, the majority being found in the Ulster counties of Down and Antrim, and in the Connacht counties of Galway and Roscommon.  In the former, the families in question are for the most part of Scottish origin; in the latter they are native Irish, Cunningham, being a synonym of certain Gaelic surnames.

The following is from the book The Roots and Some of the Branches of the Puckett Family Tree by Christine South Gee which was privately published for her by the State Commercial Printing Company, Columbia, S.C. in 1958.  This excerpt (pgs. 132 – 134) gives her connection to the South Family which may be valuable to some family researchers. Our family’s connection is with (1) John Smith, Sr. whose son Benjamin – a brother to (2) Zedekiah below – is listed on our Legacy Keepers chart as our ancestor.

The South Family

The South Family is an old English family of southern England.  They were seated at Bossington Hall in Hants, and at Swallowcliffe Manor in Wiltshire.  Swallowcliffe is mentioned in the Domesday Book, a survey made in 1085 by order of William the Conqueror.  The Souths were well known in Salisbury, Wiltshire, as early as 1400. One Robert South was Mayor of Salisbury in 1479.  His two sons were mayors of Salisbury, John in 1502 and Robert in 1506. This last named Robert’s son was mayor in 1531. It was from this family that the Souths of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and South Carolina are descended.  While the research on the immediate ancestors of John Henderson South, who married Hattie Alice Puckett (L11), is now being carried on and will be published when completed, the line is fairly well established as follows:

  1. John South, was probably the son of Thomas South who died in Prince Georges Co., Md. in 1743.  This John is believed to the founder of the Hagerstown, Md. Family. He himself pushed on over to Kentucky with the early pioneers and was in the Battle of Boonesborough with Daniel Boone.  One or more sons remained behind at Hagerstown and vicinity. Sons John, Thomas, and Zedekiah went with him to Kentucky or followed soon after. John South, Sr. was killed at the battle of Estills’ Defeat in Ky. in 1783.  His son:
  2. Zedekiah South married Nancy Violett, dau. of Thomas Henson Violett.  Lived in Berkeley Co., Va. (now West Va.) not far from Hagerstown. Inherited his father’s land grant in Kentucky and moved there about 1784.  He was one of the founders and a trustee of Port William, now Carrolton, Ky., where he died in 1813. Their son:
  3. William South, b. 1760-65, d. 1844 (Will proved Laurens Co., S.C., Aug. 5, 1844).  Marrie d Oct. 8, 1785, Catherine Daniel, dau. of John Daniel and Sarah (probably a Montague).  The Daniels had moved from Essex Co., Va. to Bedford Co. William South came to S.C. with the Daniels about 1789 instead of going to Ky. with his South relatives.  Catherine Daniel was born about 1760-1765 in Essex Co., Va. Died in Laurens Co., S.C. 1857 (Estate settlement, Laurens Co.) Their son:
  4. Gabriel South, b. in Virginia 1786 – 89, d. May 11, 1853 in Mississippi, m. Martha Norwood.  Their son:
  5. James Benjamin South, b. Oct. 15, 1725 in Laurens Co., S.C., d. April 15, 1875 in Laurens Co. S.C., m. Dec. 5, 1860, Sarah Elizabeth Smith Puckett (J24), dau. of William Smith Puckett (H2) and his wife, Delilah Knight.  Sarah Elizabeth Smith Puckett was born Jan. 1, 1829, d. Dec. 23, 1863. Their son:
  6. John Henderson South, b. July 17, 1858 in Laurens Co.,S.C.,  d. Aug. 8, 1935, m. Hattie Alice Puckett (L11), b. Nov. 28, 1867 in Laurens Co., S.C., d. Nov. 11, 1916 in Greenwood, S.C., m. Nov. 14, 1882.  Their daughter:
  7. Christine, b. June 8, 1884, m. June 23, 1923 Nathaniel Gist Gee, b. Union, S.C., April 20, 1876, d. in Greenwood, S.C., Dec. 18, 1937.