CUNNINGHAM, Joseph Davey. Lambeth, London 9.6.1812 — near Ambala 28.2.1851. British (Scottish) Colonial Officer and Historian in India. Son of poet Allan C. (1784-1842) and Jean Walker, elder brother of —> A.C. After education at private schools and Addiscombe “he went to Chatham and to India in the Bengal Engineers in 1834. Appointed assistant to Colonel Claud Wade, the Agent on the Sikh frontier, fortified Firozpur in 1837; was 8 years in political employ: at the interview with Ranjit Singh, in the Khyber, at Ludiana, at Peshawar, with the Amir Dost Muhammad at Jammu, agent at Bahawalpur. Captain 1845. In the first Sikh war was at Badiwal, Aliwal, and Sobraon, was political agent at Bhopal 1846.” In his book he stated that “in the Sikh war two of the Sikh generals were bought. This was strenuously denied by high officers: the result to C. was the loss of his political appointment and relegation to ordinary duty, on the ground of having used in his History information confidentially known to him in his official capacity.” General criticism received the book very favourably. Also a younger brother., Francis C., 1820-1875, served as an officer in South India in 1838-62 and became known as an editor of English literature (Marlowe, Ben Johnson, etc.).

Publications: A History of the Sikhs from the origin of the nation to the battles of the Sutlej. 1849, rev. ed. 44+474 p. L. 1853, new ed. by H. L. O. Garrett L. 1918.

– “Notes on Moorcroft’s Travels in Ladakh, and on Gerard’s Account of Kunáwar”, JASB 13, 1844, 172-253; “Notes on the Antiquities of the Districts within the Bhopal Agency”, JASB 16:2, 1847, 739-763, 2 pl.; “On the Ruins at Putharee”, JASB 17:1, 1848, 305-312, 2 pl. (near Udaipur); in JASB also articles on science.

Sources: Buckland, Dictionary; H.M.S[tephens], D.N.B. 13, 1888, 314-316; Wikipedia.

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