John Cunningham ~ Historian and Minister

John Cunningham – historian and minister – born 1819 in Paisley was ordained in 1845 as the Church of Scotland parish minister of Crieff; he stayed in this parish for more than four decades. Here he married a local woman, Susan Porteous, who bore him seven children. Cunningham did not restrict his work to his parish church and involved himself in national church politics as well as promoting the use of instrumental music within the church. This led to the infamous ‘Crieff organ case’ and a victory for Cunningham and his musical advocacy. A historian, Cunningham published in 1859 his Church History of Scotland (two volumes). Subsequent revised editions contained historically praiseworthy accounts of the Disruption of 1843. As well as writing for both the Edinburgh Review and the Westminster Review, Cunningham continued to publish:

The Quakers, an International History (1859)
New Theory of Knowing and Known (1874)
Scotch Sermons (1880) – contributor
The Growth of the Church (1886) – Croall Lectures

He did not neglect his parish duties and busied himself within the fashionable resort town of Crieff. The Church of Scotland also made use of his abilities and in 1886 he was appointed as moderator of the general assembly as well as principal of St Mary’s College (St Andrews). During the course of his lifetime, Cunningham received several additional degrees (he had in his youth studied at both Glasgow University – matriculation 1836 – and Edinburgh University where he studied divinity and won several prizes):

Doctor of Divinity (DD) – Edinburgh University (1860)
Doctor Of Laws (LLD) – Glasgow University (1886)
Doctor Of Laws (LLD) – Trinity College, Dublin (1887)

John Cunningham died in 1893 at St Andrews. He is buried in the grounds of that town’s cathedral.