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National Trust Willunga branch.

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National Trust of South Australia


Cunningham, Michael

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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth 1828
Place of birth Ireland?
Date of arrival 1854
Principal occupation Quarryman?
Date of death c. 1890
Place of decease Willunga

Michael Cunningham, aged 26 years, arrived in Australia aboard Confiance on 11 September 1854 from Plymouth. Michael Cunningham was a Catholic and he was married to Mary Teirney (1831-1877). They had at least three, perhaps four, children:

  • Rose
  • Edward (1856- ) was born at Willunga and baptised at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Willunga.
  • Hope (1858- ) was born at Willunga and baptised at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Willunga.
  • Anne (1861- ) was born at Willunga and baptised at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Willunga.

Michael Cunningham and his family probably lived in the Willunga District from before 1856 until at least 1890 or later. Michael may have been a labourer and worked in the slate quarries. They were regular parishioners at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Willunga. Three of their children were baptized at there: Edward on 6 April 1856 (witnesses- Michael Clarke and Mary Clarke); Hope on 6 August 1858 (witnesses - John and Maria Fitzgerald) and Anne on 2 February 1861 (witnesses – Peter Maffrey and Margaret Cooke).Michael and Mary Cunningham were often witnesses at ceremonies held at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Willunga.

Both witnessed the Baptisms of:

  • Mary Ann Wheatley (or Wheatlan), daughter of George Wheatley and Ann Hanlon, on 10 February 1856,
  • William McShean, son of William McShean and Anne Cassidy, on 13 September 1857,
  • Ann Clarke, daughter of Michael Clarke and Mary Cooke, on 10 October 1860 and
  • Thomas Joseph Lahiff, son of Michael Lahiff and Anne Sullivan, on 7 March 1875.

Mary Cunningham was listed as a witness:

  • with Henry Hughes at the marriage of Edward Stephenson and Honora Hurley on 10 March 1856 and
  • with Thomas Reilly at the baptism of: John Cooke, son of Patrick Cooke and Mary Ward, on 18 May 1865.

Michael Cunningham was a witness:

  • with Johanna Gleeson at the baptism of: Johanna Moloy, daughter of Michael Moloy and Mary Gleeson, on 10 May 1863,
  • with Mary Sullivan at the baptism of Patrick McCaffrey, son of Peter McCaffrey and Elizabeth Winters, on 20 March 1864,
  • with Mary Power at the baptism of John Roach, son of John Roach and Mary Fitzpatrick, on 4 September 1864,
  • with Mary Ward at the baptism of James Cooke, son of Patrick Cooke and Mary Ward, on 30 September 1866,
  • with Mrs Hart at the baptism of Hugh Patrick Clarke, son of Owen Clarke and Anne Fitzgerald, on 7 June 1870,
  • with Anastasia Pender at the baptism of Eliza Anne Paynter, daughter of Henry Paynter and Mary Donnelly, on 14 November 1871 and
  • with Bridget Phelan at the baptism of Margaret Murphy, daughter of Michael and Bridget Murphy, on 24 November 1873.

Michael Cunningham, farmer of Willunga, purchased allotments 146 and 149, fronting onto St Marys Street, Willunga on 31 December 1868 (application 9540). It is possible that Michael Cunningham lived on this property and even built the cottage before 1868. He sold the land to William Reed, farmer of Willunga, on 13 March 1890.

Mary Cunningham (née Teirney), aged 47 years, died at her residence in Willunga on 7 June 1877. She is buried in St Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Willunga and Michael Cunningham (date of death unknown) is buried with her.

Michael Cunningham of Willunga remarried to Anne Tuthill (née Clarke) on 7 September 1880 at St Josephs Catholic Church at Willunga. Witnesses were Michael Clarke and Mary Clarke.


  • South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
  • South Australian Marriages – Index of Registrations 1842-1937
  • South Australian Deaths – Index of Registrations 1842-1972
  • SAILIS CT124/36
  • SA Directories – Willunga – not listed in 1880 or 1890 Family Histories. Manuscript folder held by the National Trust (Willunga Branch) Blue folders
  • GRO Merge
  • Express and Telegraph 18 June 1877:1

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