Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/108

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Cunningham
Cunningham
96

embody the results of his own personal discoveries, while the remainder were written by his assistants under his supervision. A useful index to the whole series was compiled by Mr. Vincent Arthur Smith (1871). It was also during this period that Cunningham published vol. i. of the 'Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum' (Calcutta, 1877), containing the first collected edition of the edicts of Asoka; 'The Stupa of Bharhut' (1879); and 'The Book of Indian Eras' (Calcutta, 1883), with tables for calculating dates. In September 1885 he finally retired.

After his return to England Cunningham worked at his favourite studies to the very last. In 1892 he brought out a magnificently illustrated volume on 'Mahabodhi,' the great Buddhist temple near Gaya in Bengal, which is to this day the most sacred goal of Buddhist pilgrimage. But the chief interest of his closing years was in numismatics. While in India he had taken advantage of his exceptional opportunities to form a collection of coins which has never been equalled either in extent or in the rarity of many of its specimens. His vast experience had given him an intuition about coins that was almost infallible, while his imagination enabled him to interpret their lessons for history. An example of his method of treatment may be found in the paper which he contributed to the Oriental Congress in 1892, on 'The Ephthalites or White Huns,' in which he first collects the literary evidence, and then illuminates the whole subject from his stores of numismatic learning. In 'Coins of Ancient India' (1891) he unfolds original views about the origin of money, and maintains that coined money was known to the Indians before the invasion of Alexander. This was followed by a posthumous volume on 'The Coins of Mediaeval India' (1894), and by a series of papers in the 'Numismatic Chronicle' on the coins of the Indo-Scythians. It should be stated that a large part of his collection, chiefly copper coins, together with his papers and notebooks, had been unfortunately lost in the steamship Indus, which foundered off the coast of Ceylon in 1885. The gold and silver pieces escaped, having previously been shipped to England. During his own lifetime General Cunningham allowed the authorities of the British Museum to select the choicest examples and all those needed for the national collection, virtually at the price which they had cost him in India. After his death those which he had subsequently acquired were handed over on the same terms. In the medal room of the British Museum a tablet commemorates his generosity.

Cunningham died on 28 Nov. 1893 at his residence in Cranley Mansions, South Kensington, after a lingering illness; he was buried in the family vault in Kensal Green cemetery. He was appointed C.S.I, when the order of the Star of India was enlarged in 1871, C.I.E. in 1878, and K.C.I.E. when the jubilee honours were distributed in 1887. In 1840 he married Alice, daughter of Martin Whish, of the Bengal civil service, who predeceased him. He left two sons, one of whom followed his father into the Bengal engineers, while the other is in the Bengal civil service.

[Royal Engineers Journal, 1 March 1894.]

J. S. C.

CUNNINGHAM, JOHN (1819–1893), historian of the Scottish church, son of Daniel Cunningham, ironmonger, was born at Paisley on 9 May 1819. Educated at two preparatory schools and the grammar school in Paisley, he matriculated at Glasgow University in 1836, and earned high distinction in a curriculum of four sessions. In 1840 he became a student in Edinburgh University under Sir William Hamilton and Professor Wilson, and was gold medallist with both, besides gaining Wilson's prize for a poem on 'The Hearth and the Altar' (Brown, Paisley Poets, ii. 117). Completing at Edinburgh his studies for the church of Scotland, Cunningham was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Paisley in the spring of 1845, and, after a short assistantship at Lanark, was ordained in August of that year parish minister of Crieff, Perthshire. Holding this charge for forty-one years he became one of the leaders of the church, his pulpit ministrations and his ecclesiastical and public work evincing distinct individuality, freshness, and vigour. He was prominent in promoting the act of parliament which opens appointments in the church of Scotland to members of all Scottish presbyterian bodies, and he also helped strenuously to secure the act which simplifies for ministers and elders the signature of the confession of faith. He was a pioneer among Scottish theologians in advocating the introduction of instrumental music into church, and the 'Crieff organ case' in the church courts of 1867 stirred much excitement and controversy. He ultimately won, and the example was soon widely followed.

Crieff becoming a fashionable health resort, the handsome church of St. Michael's, with a new organ, was substituted for the old parish church, and presently an assistant was appointed to lighten the work of the minister. Active for the welfare of his parish, Cunningham was chaplain of the