History of Bucks County, Pa Volume 3 by William H. Davis
Names and Page # Index




MATTHEW C. CUNNINGHAM, senior member of the firm of CUNNINGHAM & SEAL, wool merchants and importers, Philadelphia, was born in Newtown township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, July 6, 1847, and is a son of Joseph T. and Rebecca (CADWALLADER) CUNNINGHAM, the former of Scotch-Irish and English and the latter of Welsh and English descent, both being natives of Bucks county.

            The CUNNINGHAM family is of Scotch origin, and took its name from the municipality of that name on the Fifth of Forth, in Scotland, now North Ayrshire, the birthplace of WALLACE and BRUCE, both of whom were connected by blood and marriage with this same family.  Some of the American descendants of the family have traced their ancestry back in a direct line to Malcombe FRISBINE, who in 1056 was knighted and made Thane of Conyngham, by Malcombe CANMORE, King of Scotland, for saving him from capture by Macbeth’s victorious hordes.  Three generations later the descendants of Malcombe adopted the surname of CUNNINGHAM, from the name of the principality over which they ruled as feudal lords.

            During the last half of the seventeenth century many members of this family migrated to Ireland, one considerable branch locating in county Donegal, where a number of them are mentioned as landed proprietors during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, and from whence, at different periods, several of the name migrated to Pennsylvania, two generations later.  Among these was the ancestor of the subject of this sketch, who located in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, either in Chester or Philadelphia county.

            Thomas CUNNINGHAM, the first of the family of whom we have any definite record, married Ann ADAMS, on October 12, 1775, and soon after that date located in Middletown township, where he followed the trade of a weaver.  On February 20, 1794, he purchased a farm of one hundred acres in Lower Makefield township, and lived thereon until his death in August, 1813, his will stating that he was “advanced in years.” Thomas and Ann (ADAMS) CUNNINGHAM were the parents of six children-two sons, Thomas and Matthew; and four daughters, Martha ERWIN, Margaret VAN HORN, Ann ERWIN, and Sarah MOON.  The eldest son, Thomas, to whom was devised the farm, sold it soon after the decease of his father and removed to Trenton, New Jersey.  He married Ann SLACK, daughter of Abraham and Elizabeth (TORBERT) SLACK of Lower Makefield.

            Matthew CUNNINGHAM, second son of Thomas and Ann, born in 1779, removed with his parents to Lower Makefield township in 1794, and from the age of sixteen years was a school teacher in that and adjoining townships, until his death on September 14, 1835, at the age of fifty-six years and eight months.  On March 15, 1814, he purchased a farm in Newtown township which he operated in connection with the conduct of his school in that township.  He married Rachel TAYLOR, daughter of Joseph and Mercy (KNOWLES) TAYLOR, of Newtown township, both of whom were lineal descendants of John and Mary (LOFTY) SCOTCHER.  William PENN’S faithful stewards at Pennsbury, SOTCHER being also a member of colonial assembly for many years.

            Benjamin TAYLOR, grandfather of Joseph TAYLOR above mentioned, was the son of Philip and Julianna TAYLOR, of Oxford township, Philadelphia, early settlers at the present site of Tacony.  Benjamin was a blacksmith, and followed that occupation in connection with farming in Newtown township and Upper Makefield for nearly sixty years.  In 1730, he purchased 403 acres of land in Newtown township, which he conveyed to his sons Timothy and Bernard prior to 1750, and purchased 150 acres in Upper Makefield, where he died in 1780.   He became a large landowner in Upper and Lower Makefield, and was one of the prominent men of his time in that locality.  He was a member of Falls Monthly Meeting of Friends.  He married in 1719 Hannah TOWNE, daughter of John and Deborah (BOOTH) TOWNE, and they were the parents of four sons; Bernard, Benjamin, Timothy and John; and daughters; Hannah, wife of Joseph WHITE; Deborah, wife of Benjamin PAXSON; and another who married a GILLINGHAM.

            Timothy TAYLOR, son of Benjamin and Hannah (TOWNE) TAYLOR, born at Newtown in 1729, was a carpenter and lived all his life in the neighborhood of Newtown, his father conveying to him 158 acres of his Newtown plantation in 1754.  He was a justice of the peace and of the court of common pleas of Bucks county, being commissioned the former on June 7, 1784, and the latter on September 29 of the same year.  Timothy and Bernard TAYLOR were two of the trustees appointed by Falls Monthly Meeting in 1753 to purchase the land and erect Makefield meeting house.  Timothy TAYLOR died in 1790.  He was twice married, first on 12 mo. 27, 1752, to Letitia KIRKBRIDE, daughter of Mahlon and Mary (SOTCHER) KIRKBRIDE, and granddaughter of Joseph and Sarah (STACY) KIRKBRIDE, and great-granddaughter of Mahlon and Rebecca (ELY) STACY, who were married at Cinder Hill, Yorkshire, England, in 1668. Both Joseph and Mahlon KIRKBRIDE were for many years members of the colonial assembly and justices of the courts of Bucks county, and were the largest landowners in Bucks county.  The children of Timothy and Letitia (KIRKBRIDE) TAYLOR were: Joseph; Hannah, wife of William FIELD; Stacy; Timothy; Mahlon; David; Jonathan K. and Bernard.  Timothy TAYLOR married (second) 11 mo. 19, 1772, Sarah YARDLEY, daughter of William and Ann (BUDD) YARDLEY, * who bore him four children:  Ann, who married Jacob CADWALLADER: William: Deborah, who married Samuel CARY; and Sarah, who married Phineas BRIGGS.

            Joseph TAYLOR, eldest son of Timothy and Letitia (KIRKBRIDE) TAYLOR, born at Newtown in 1753, married, 12 mo. 11, 1777, Mercy KNOWES, daughter of John and Mary (SOTCHER) KNOWLES, granddaughter of Robert and Mercy (BROWN) SOTCHER, and great-granddaughter of John and Mary (LOFTY) SOTCHER, before mentioned.  He was a farmer in Lower Makefield, where he died in 1832.  The children of Joseph and Mercy (KNOWLES) TAYLOR were: Letitia, born 1778, married Samuel BUNTING: Mary born 1780, second wife of Cyrus CADWALLADER; Sarah, born 1783, married John COMFORT: Hannah, born 1784, married Mahlon BUCKMAN; Mahlon, born 1787, married Eliza COMFORT; Rachel, born 1789, died 1879, married Matthew CUMMINGHAM; Ann, born 1784, married Richard JANNEY; Susanna, born 1797, married John PALMER; and Joseph, born 1799, married Anna BETTS.

            Matthew and Rachel (TAYLOR) CUNNINGHAM were the parents of two sons-Joseph T., born January 6, 1814; and George W., born May 21, 1816, died 1896.  The latter married in 1852 Mary IVINS, daughter of Barclay and Mary (THOMPSON) IVINS, and died in Newtown township in 1896, leaving three daughters-Agnes, Mary I., and Edith. Rachel (TAYLOR) CUNNINGHAM survived her husband many years, dying in 1879 at the age of ninety years.

            Joseph Taylor CUNNINGHAM, eldest son of Matthew and Rachel (TAYLOR) CUNNINGHAM, was born in Lower Makefield township, Bucks county, January 6, 1814, and was reared on the old homestead in Newtown township, where he spent his entire life from the age of a few months.  At the death of his father in 1835, the farm was divided between him and his brother George W., the part adjudged to Joseph consisting of about eighty acres.  Joseph T. CUNNINGHAM married Rebecca J. CADWALLADER, born February 14, 1822, daughter of Jacob and Mary (BROWN) CADWALLADER, and granddaughter of Cyrus and Mary (TAYLOR) CADWALLADER, and therefore, like her husband, a descendant of Benjamin and Hannah (TOWNE) TAYLOR, her grandmother, Mary TAYLOR, being a daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth (BURROUGHS) TAYLOR, and granddaughter of Bernard TAYLOR, (son of Benjamin and Hannah), and his wife Mary KIRKBRIDE, the latter being another daughter of Mahlon and Mary (SOTCHER) KIRKBRIDE.  Joseph T. Cunningham died on his farm in Newtown township, October 16, 1867, in his fifty-fourth year, and his wife Rebecca died November 8, 1865.  They were the parents of three children; Mary C., born 1844, died August 6, 1887, married George B. BUCKMAN, of Newtown; Matthew C.; William; and two other children, George and Jennie, who died in infancy. 

The maternal ancestors of these children were among the earliest settlers in Warminster township.  The pioneer ancestor, John CADWALLADER, a native of Wales, was a distinguished minister among Friends and died on the island of Tortula, in the West Indies, in 1742, while on a religious visit.  He left several children, among whom was Jacob, who died in Moreland township.  His wife was a granddaughter of Tunis (or Dennis) KUNDERS (CONRAD) whose family was one of the thirteen who sailed from London on the “Concord: on July 24, 1683, and landed at Philadelphia, October 6, and fourteen days later located at the present site of Germantown, of which they were the founders.  Dennis KUNDERS was one of the first burgesses.  He was a native of Westphalia, and brought with him to Germantown three sons, and five other children were born to him in Germantown.  Jacob CADWALLADER, son of Jacob and Magdalena (CONRAD) CADWALLADER, married Phebe RADCLIFFE, of Warminster, and was a large landowner in that township, and later in Makefield.  Of his eleven children, five grew to maturity, viz.; Cyrus; Jacob; John; Rebecca, wife of David JARRETT; Phebe, wife of Oliver HOUGH. Cyrus, the eldest son, born June 6, 1763, was twice married, both of his wives being Mary TAYLOR, as before recited, Jacob, the father of Mrs. Rebecca CUNNINGHAM being the eldest son by the first marriage.

            MATTHEW C. CUNNINGHAM was born and reared on the Newtown township farm, and acquired his elementary education at the public schools of that vicinity and at Joseph SHORTLIDGE’S Academy in Delaware county, Pennsylvania. At the age of eighteen years he went to Philadelphia, and after a course in a business college accepted a position as bookkeeper with the firm of SEAL, WILLIAMS & Co., wool merchants, and later became one of their most valued salesmen.  On January 1, 1881, he formed a partnership with Alfred SEAL, of the old firm, under the title of Seal & CUNNINGHAM, and entered into the wool business for himself.  Two years later Mr. SEAL died, and a new partnership was formed with John H. SEAL, a nephew of Alfred, under the firm name of CUNNINGHAM & SEAL, which still continues, doing a large business.  Mr. CUNNINGHAM is a popular and successful business man, and has a large circle of acquaintances and friends in Bucks county, where he has resided for the past ten years.

            Mr. CUNNINGHAM married, in 1869, Fannie S. PHILLIPS, daughter of Charles and Sarah B. (SMITH) PHILLIPS, of Solebury, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, where her family have been prominent residents for several generations, the pioneer ancestor of the family being Thomas PHILLIPS, who married, about 1725, Rebecca (NORTON) KITCHIN, widow of William KITCHIN, and had two ** tury (sic) and a half.  Aaron PHILLIPS married in 1756, in connection with his half-brother, William KITCHIN, erected a mill on Primrose run, near the Delaware, two miles above Wells’ Ferry, now New Hope, of which he became the sole owner in 1779, and it has been known as PHILLIPS’ Mill for a century and a half.”  Aaron PHILLIPS married Mary CLAUSON, and was succeeded as miller by his son Thomas, who in turn was succeeded by his son Aaron, who married Sarah CROASDALE, a descendant of Ezra CROASDALE, who came from Yorkshire and settled in Middletown in 1683, bringing a certificate from Brighouse Meeting of Friends in Yorkshire, dated 1 mo. 29, 1683.  He married, in 1687, Ann PEACOCK, also a native of Yorkshire, and their third son, Jeremiah, born 8 mo. 29, 1694, a large landowner and prominent man in Middletown, married Grace HEATON, granddaughter of Robert and Alice HEATON, who came from Yorkshire in 1682 in the “Welcome” with William PENN.  Jeremiah CROASDALE left four sons and three daughters.  His second son, Robert, born 6 mo. 30, 1728, died 8 mo. 9, 1780, married in 1750 Margery HAYHURST (daughter of Cuthbert and Deliverance (BILLS) HAYHURST, whose ancestors, Cuthbert and Mary HAYHURST, also came over in the “Welcome.”  Jeremiah CROASDALE, eldest son of Robert and Margery, born 6 mo. 20, 1751, died 9 mo. 27, 1829, married, 5 mo. 13, 1772, Ann QUINBY, of New Jersey, and they were the parents of Sarah CROADSALE, who married Aaron PHILLIPS.  Aaron PHILLIPS died in 1858, and was succeeded in the proprietorship of the old historic mill by his son Charles, the father of Mrs. CUNNINGHAM, who conducted it and the farm adjoining until 1889, when he removed to New Hope, where he died.

            Charles Phillips CUNNINGHAM, only child of Matthew and Fannie, died at the age of eight years.  In 1895 Mr. CUNNINGHAM purchased his country home on the York road, in Buckingham township, Bucks county, near Holicong, where he and his family have since resided.


*See “YARDLEY Family.”

**Appears to be missing some Text

Test taken from page 536 to 538 of: 


Davis, William W. H., A.M., History of Bucks County, Pennsylvania [New York-Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905] Volume III

Transcribed July2006 by Joan Lollis as part of the Bucks Co., Pa., Early Family Project, www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/bucksindex.html

Published July 2006 on the Bucks County, Pa., USGenWeb pages at www.rootsweb.com/~pabucks/


    Page last updated:Saturday November 15, 2008