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vital records sources

The prevailing spelling of this family's name in Robert's lifetime was "Cuningham."

Charles Nutt, in his History of Worcester and its Peoples,1 says Robert lived in Coleraine, Londonderry, Ireland as a transplanted Scot. The English attempts to settle Protestants in Ireland wasn't completely successful and led many to continue their migration, especially to Canada and the United States. He supposedly came with brother Hugh and sister Margaret to Boston in 1717. Without passage money, he found work as a seaman on the ship that brought them over. In Boston he worked at a shipyard and made enough money to buy property in Leicester, Massachusetts. Other Scots-Irish settlers came to Leicester, in numbers that suggest some sort of organized effort, however loose. The claim that the family immigrated from Coleraine is widely stated, but the source hasn't been found. It may have been oral history within the family. Nutt's reference to Robert working in a shipyard is also not corroborated. His sister Margaret married Archibald Lamond, also a transplanted Scot living in Boston, before moving to Leicester. Brother Hugh settled in Brookfield, Massachusetts. Lamond must have been successful at something in Boston since he had a large house built in Leicester in a style suggesting it was put up at or near the time he moved. They were among the founding members of a town named Spencer, set off from Leicester in 1753 and which included their homesteads.
    Robert and Archibald Lamond bought Lot #18 in Leicester on 9 September 1731.2 The lot was 250 acres and referred to as a "great farm," and they mortgaged it to Lamb on 29 September 1731. This may have allowed them to build their houses. In September 1742 the property was divided into three parts to accommodate a homestead for Robert's son John.

The three lots created when Lot 18 (called the "great farm") was divided in 1742. The pond used to be "Branch "Meadow" (in this context, another word for swamp). At some point it was dammed to create the pond, the shape of which corresponds almost exactly to the shape of the swamp shown on a 1742 map of the farm division. Aside from a bit of new development and upgrades to infrastructure, this area hasn't changed much in 270 years.

The Archibald Lamond house about the turn of the 20th century. This gives an idea of what Robert's and John's houses looked like. John's surely still stands nearby, but with some modifications over the centuries.

children of Robert Cuningham:


vital records source: His gravestone in the Spencer Congregational Church cemetery gives his death date and says he was 89 when he died. This is the source of the death record in the published vital records of Spencer.

1. Charles Nutt, History of Worcester and its Peoples (Worcester:1919), 4:852.
2. Worcester County probate case #14458.

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted