By Irena White
The Cunningham family of The Grove, (1884-1917 Ruyton XI Towns

James Bannerman Cunningham was a native of Preston Pans in Edinburgh. Part of a large family group many of whom where eminent in a wide variety of fields.  He was a Doctor (Medical Surgeon Practitioner).   Eugenie (nee Luke), his wife, was born in Cornwall, daughter of the owner of a Tin and Copper mine. Her brother, George Bingley Luke, was also a mine owner and moved to Edinburgh to further his business interests and Eugenie seems to have moved with him, possible to keep house.

 James and Eugenie married in Preston Pans on 16.09.1880 and continued to live in the area for three to four years, during which time they had their first two children. They then moved to Canada and lived in the New Brunswick area, where they had another son.  For whatever reason they then moved back to Scotland and a further three children were born.  Then they relocated to Tyneside where they had another son.  

Their last move, as a family, was in 1894, when James Cunningham bought the Ruyton XI Towns practice from Doctor Arthur Burrell one of the local Doctors.  They moved into a house called The Grove in Church Street, which had enough space for the Medical Practice and their still increasing family.  They added a small structure to the back of the house to act as a dispensary.   They then completed their family, having three more children.  Their family now consisting of five boys and five girls

 Their life in the village is chronicled within some of the numerous letters they sent to each other and their large extended family.  The letters give us a glimpse of daily life at the time of the approaching Great War.  Some of their sons had returned to Canada to further their future prospects one was in  Paris, and one was already a career soldier.

In 1914, at the outbreak of World War One, their mother writes to Canada encouraging them to join up. Charles seems very reluctant to do so. Maybe they had just begun to establish themselves in Canada or maybe, as was thought at the time, they thought the war would soon be over.  However, in the end their Mother persuaded Charles and Robert to enlist, which they did, joining the 7Th Canadian Infantry, British Columbia Regiment in 1915.  On September 8th 1916 Charles was killed at the Battle of the Somme aged 19. He is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial in France and on Ruyton’s own War Memorial and on his father’s headstone in the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church.   All the other brothers survived, including Bruce, the career soldier, who went on to serve in India and retired in the 1930’s, still writing letters to his family.

 Sadly Eugenie had already suffered another major loss when, during March/April of 1915, James Cunningham cut his arm when administrating to a patient. This started off a severe infection and Septicaemia and it was thought that his fingers would need to be amputated, and then his whole arm. But before they could operate, he died on Easter Day April 4th 1915 aged 62, and is buried in St John the Baptist Churchyard.

 Eugenie then sold the practice in 1917 and moved to London to live with one of her daughters.  Eugenie died on April 4th 1920 exactly five years after her husband .and was buried in Croydon, London, although her name and the name of their son Charles, appear on the grave stone of James Cunningham in the Church yard .

The family details are as follows.

James Bannerman Cunningham - 14.11.1852 to 04.04.1915 Aged 62, Preston Pans Edinburgh / Ruyton Eleven Towns

Married in Edinburgh 16.09.1880

Eugenie Luke - ??.??.1855 to 04.04.1920 Aged 65,  Cornwall /Croydon, London


Cecilia Joanne23.07.1882-1978,  Preston Pans , Edinburgh

Isabella Mary Douglas23.08.1883-1960,  Preston Pans , Edinburgh

William Bruce - 1885-1969, New Brunswick , Canada.

Francis Heriot - 1887- 1971,  Tongue , Scotland

Florence Oliver02.08.1888-1982,  Tongue , Scotland

Eugenie Russell, 12.04. 1890-1964,  Tongue ,Scotland

James Douglas04.08.1892- 1975,  Tynemouth , Northumberland

Robert Horsburgh, 1894-1960,  Ruyton XI  Towns

Charles Clephane, 1897- 08.09.1916, Ruyton XI Towns /France

Phyllis Margaret10.11.1898-1973,  Ruyton XI Towns

The unusual middle names of some of the children are due to the family custom of giving them a middle name which was, in turn, the surname of earlier generations.  Apart from Cecilia, Charles and Phyllis, they are all surnames.  In the case of Charles, his middle name is of a famous naval hero and does not appear to have an actual family connection

Irena White and I both have extensive family history records collected over the years,  and contact details of people who are already researching local families.
Irena has done extensive research into all the men listed on our unique War Memorial, where they lived and worked in Ruyton XI Towns and their service records.  These records will soon be alphabetically collated with sources, and who is researching the family`s history
We would be happy to help family history searchers but please, do not arrive in the village and knock on our door.  Email to the address shown on this page and we can start with some correspondence regarding what you know and what we know.  We can then direct you to houses/places of interest when you come to visit the village.
Contact Yoland  Brownhill@eleventowns.co.uk

The Ruyton XI Towns Local History Society is also happy to help Family Historians.   www.rxit.org.uk/village/index.html


 Cunjninghams 1. Cunningham 2 
 Cunningham family outside The Grove  Ruyton Cricket team in Burgage Field, Dr. Cunningham back right & 3 sons  

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