Cunynghame, Arthur Augustus Thurlow (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13
Cunynghame, Arthur Augustus Thurlow

by Henry Manners Chichester ‎

CUNYNGHAME, Sir ARTHUR AUGUSTUS THURLOW (1812–1884), general, colonel-commandant 1st battalion king's royal rifles, fifth son of Colonel Sir David Cunynghame, fifth baronet of Milnecraig, Argyllshire, by his first wife, a daughter of Lord-chancellor Thurlow, was born 12 Aug. 1812. He obtained a commission as second lieutenant, by purchase, in the 60th royal rifles 2 Nov. 1830, and was made a first lieutenant 22 May 1835. After serving with his battalion in the Mediterranean he became aide-de-camp to that fine soldier, Lord Saltoun, in China in 1841, and was present at the capture of Ching-keang-foo and the investment of Nankin. He got his company in the 3rd Buffs in 1841, became major therein in 1845, and lieutenant-colonel 13th light infantry in 1846, exchanging as captain and lieutenant-colonel to the Grenadier guards 1 Dec. 1846, and thence as junior lieutenant-colonel to the 20th foot in America 27 April 1849. He next exchanged to the 27th Inniskillings, which he commanded for a short time in Ireland, and retired on half-pay in 1853. In 1854 Cunynghame, who became a brevet-colonel 20 June that year, accompanied the army to the east as assistant quartermaster-general of the 1st division, and was present at the landing in the Crimea, the battles of Alma, the Tchernaya, Balaclava, Inkerman, where he was with the guards in the sandbag battery, and led into action a party of his old corps, the 20th (Kinglake, v. 246), and at the siege of Sebastopol up to March 1855. In that month he became a local major-general, and in May took command of a division of the Turkish contingent, and for his services therewith received the thanks of the sultan and the Turkish rank of lieutenant-general. In October 1855 he sailed with ten thousand Turks to occupy Kertch (which had been captured by Sir George Brown in May previous), and held that fortress during the second winter of the Crimean occupation. For his services in the Crimea and Turkey he was made C.B., an officer of the Legion of Honour, and received the English and Turkish Crimean and Turkish war medals, and the Medjidie. He became major-general in the British service in 1861, and in 1863, when on the Bengal staff, was at Lahore in command of the reserve of the army employed in the Sittana campaign. In April 1869, when in command of the northern district of Ireland, he twice received the thanks of the Irish executive during the Fenian rising. The same year he was made a K.C.B. He commanded the forces in South Africa from 1874 to 1878, including the period of the sixth Kaffir war. In 1876 he was transferred as colonel-commandant to his old corps, the royal rifles, from the 36th, of which he had been appointed colonel in 1868. He became general in 1877, and was retired in 1879, residing at Hurlingham Lodge, Fulham. He died on board ship on 1 April 1884, on his return from India, whither he had been on a pleasure trip.

Cunynghame married, 18 Sept. 1845, the Hon. Frances Elizabeth, daughter of Field-marshal Viscount Hardinge, by whom he left two sons and three daughters.

Cunynghame, who was an extensive traveller and a most intelligent observer, was author of the following works: 1. ‘An Aide-de-camp's Recollections of Service in China,’ &c., London, 1844, 12mo. 2. ‘A Glimpse of the Great Western Republic,’ London, 1851, 8vo. 3. ‘Travels in the Eastern Caucasus, especially Daghestan,’ 2 vols. 8vo, illust., London, 1872, 8vo. 4. ‘My Command in South Africa in 1874–8,’ London, 1879, 8vo. The latter work, though hastily put together, contains much valuable information relating to South Africa generally during the government of Sir Bartle Frere at the Cape.

[Burke's Baronetage; London Gazettes, various; Hart's Army Lists; Kinglake's Invasion of the Crimea; Parl. Papers; Accts. and Papers, 1856 (Turkey, iii.), xl. 341; Narrative of the Sittana Campaign; Cunynghame's Works; Illustr. London News, 29 Nov. 1884 (will).]

H. M. C.