Cunningham. I. Allan, a Scottish poet and miscellaneous writer, born at Blackwood, Dumfriesshire, in 1785, died in London, Oct. 29, 1842. He was of humble parentage, his family having lost its estate by taking the side of Montrose. He acquired from his father a love for old Scottish tales- and ballads, and was sent to school till his 12th year, when he was apprenticed to a stonemason. In his 18th year, having already written several poetical pieces, he sought the acquaintance of Hogg, the Et-trick Shepherd, who describes him as at that time "a dark, ungainly youth, with a broadly frame for his age, and strongly marked manly features, the very model of Burns, and exactly such a man." Cromek, in gathering the remains of Nithsdale and Galloway song, engaged Cunningham for an assistant, who furnished materials for an octavo volume, which was published in 1810; but it soon appeared that he was himself the author of the most beautiful pieces in the collection. At the age of 25 he went to London, and during four years established a reputation by numerous contributions to periodicals. In 1814 he was selected by the sculptor Chantrey to be his foreman and confidential manager, in which position he remained till the artist's death.
Some of his songs were declared by Scott to rival those of Burns. He wrote "Sir Marmaduke Maxwell" (1822), a wild drama founded upon border superstitions; several novels, as "Paul Jones," "Sir Michael Scott," "Lord Roldan," and "Traditional Tales;" the "Life of Burns" (1834), and the "Life of Sir David Wilkie" (1843); "The Maid of Elvar," a poem; "The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern, with Introduction and Notes" (1826), which contains many of his own best poems; "The Lives of the most eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects" (1830); and the literary illustrations to Major's "Cabinet Gallery of Pictures." His ballads and smaller poems are graceful, natural, airy, and eminently Scotch. II. Alexander, a soldier and author, son of the preceding, born Jan. 23, 1814. He became second lieutenant of engineers in 1831, and served in India from 1834, being employed in various important missions and engineering works, and reaching the rank of major general. In 1858 he became chief engineer of the Northwestern Provinces, and in 1870 archaeological surveyor general of India. He has published "An Essay on the Arian Order of Architecture" (1846); "The Bhilsa Topes, or Buddhist Monuments of Central India" (1854); "Ladak, Physical, Statistical, and Historical" (1854); and voluminous reports on the antiquities of northern Hiri-dostan. III. Peter, brother of the preceding, born in London, April 7, 1816, died May 18, 1869. He was appointed a clerk in the audit office in 1834, became chief clerk in 1854, and retired about 1860. He contributed to periodicals, and had the charge and arrangement of the works of art in the Manchester exhibition of 1857. He wrote an excellent "Handbook of London," and other interesting topographical works, and edited the poems of Drummond of Hawthornden, the "Works of Goldsmith," a new edition of Johnson's "Lives of the Poets," etc.