George Cunningham

Middle Street
Crown Court

Crown Court

Occupation: Mariner

It was the discovery of this letter in the Kent Archives that sparked our interest in George Cunningham. The item was hidden amongst a collection of papers attributed to Mercer the solicitors of Queen Street, Deal. On reading the correspondence we immediately conjured up an image of George Cunningham as one of Deal’s characters and therefore further research was definitely required!

George was born, in Deal, in 1749. He was baptised in St Leonard’s Church in May and was the son of George Cunningham and his second wife, Sarah nee Hammond. His father, another George, was a Pilot.

George’s occupation was given as a mariner when he is married on 29th January 1774 to Catherine Meakins or Mackin in St Leonard’s Church. Catherine’s maiden name changes throughout the various entries on Find My Past and Ancestry depending on how the transcriber interprets it. There is a distinct lack of ‘Meakins’ in Deal at this time but a plethora of ‘Mackins ‘so I would suggest this is the correct spelling of the name. Theirs seems to be a long and happy marriage, with them producing 10 children by the end of the 18th Century. Unfortunately, George outlived three of his children and must have struggled with Kitty falling pregnant with an illegitimate child in 1802. He would have been relieved when she married in 1803. Her husband Claude Urbain outlived Kitty and went on to marry her sister, Hannah.

George is mentioned many times in his father’s will – written in 1787. He was named as executor and benefitted from George snr’s investments and took over the lease of his father’s property. In the 1821 census he is living in Crown Court.

The letter is written by George the year before he dies and is clearly one from a man who wants to enjoy his last Christmas, with his family around him, and a ‘piece of beef’. Who wouldn’t?

We are still to discover if this is a letter requesting a loan from the solicitor or does Mr Mercer act as his private bank. Is he requesting money from his savings?

Transcription of the above letter from George Cunningham to Mr Mercer. Solicitor of Deal. 

December 23rd 1838 

 Mr George Cunningham
Humble respects to Mr Mercer and hopes he will not think him intruding on his goodness. When he solicits his favours. To advance him two pounds as he is in great need of a trifle. Particular being so near Christmas. He feels anxious wish to have small piece of beef on that day with his children as it seems by his infirmities it may be the last Christmas day he may ever be with them. 
Trusting to your (goodness/kindness?) with complying with my humble request I remain your aged  

             Servant G Cunningham.  

P.S  Sir your answer will be thankfully received.

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
George Cunningham 1749 31 May 1749
St. Leonard’s
Catherine Mackins or Meakins
29 January 1774
St. Leonard’s

Born 1749
Buried 20 June 1832

Middle Street
9 November 1829
St. Leonard’s

The Children of George Cunningham & Catherine Meakins

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Sarah 1775 6 January 1775
William Petty
12 April 1801
St. Leonard’s
George 1776 31 January 1776
Mary 1779 31 March 1779
1797 17 December 1797
Catherine (Kitty) 1781 31 March 1779
Charles Urbain
26 November 1803
St. Leonard’s
Parish of St. Mary’s, Dover
11 June 1824




4 April 1783
St. Leonard’s19 August 1785
1) John Marks
10 November 1802
St. Leonard’s2)Thomas Smith
9 January 1813
St. Leonards1) John Moorcroft
18 May 1806
St. Leonard’s

2) Claude Urbain
24 November 1825

Parish of St. Mary’s Dover
19 August 1835
(Old) St.Mary’s, Walmer12 August 1833
St. Leonard’s
William Hammond 1787 12 September 1787
 Susannah  1789 11 December 1789
St Leonard’s 
 Stephen Arlott
3 November 1808
St. Leonard’s
Limekiln Street, Dover
21 January
St. Mary’s Church, Dover
 Daniel Mackins  1792  13 April 1792 St Leonard’s   Unknown  1840
Primrose Hill, Middle Street
13 February 1840
St. Leonard’s
 Anne  1794 12th March 1794.
St Leonard’s 
John Evans
22 May 1813
St. Leonard’s
 Louisa Jane  1796  14th Sept 1796
St. Leonard’s 
 1797 2 August 1797
St. Leonard’s


Year Address Name Number of Males Number of Females
1801 George Cunningham 3 6
1811 3 3
1821 Crown Court George Cunningham 4 4