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CUNNINGHAM, Sir JOHN (d. 1684), of Lambrughtoun, lawyer, eldest son of William Cunningham of Broomhill, a covenanter, by Janet, daughter of Patrick Leslie, lord Lindores, was assigned by the court to defend Argyll on his trial for high treason in 1661. In 1669 he was created a baronet of Nova Scotia. He was suspended from the practice of his profession in 1674 for adhering to the opinion that an appeal lay from the court of session to parliament by an ancient process known as a ‘protestation in remeid of law,’ in defiance of a rescript of Charles II declaring such process illegal and forbidding advocates to advise to the contrary. In 1678 he was elected member of parliament for Ayrshire, but the election was declared null and void on a technical point. Charles II, meditating in 1679 the disgrace of Lauderdale, held a sort of quasi-judicial inquiry into the character of his administration, hearing lawyers on both sides. Sir George Mackenzie, being king's advocate, acted for the defence, while Sir George Lockhart and Cunningham conducted the attack. Cunningham sat as member for Ayrshire in the parliament of 1681. He died on 17 Nov. 1684. By his wife Margaret, daughter of William Murray of Stirlingshire, he had two sons and one daughter. Though the son of a covenanter, he was, according to Burnet, a staunch episcopalian. Burnet also gives him credit for profound and ‘universal’ learning, ‘eminent probity,’ a ‘sweet temper,’ and exemplary piety.

[Nicoll's Diary (Bann. Club), p. 321; Fountainhall's Hist. Notices of Scottish Affairs (Bann. Club); Fountainhall's Observes (Bann. Club), p. 142, App. 277; Sir George Mackenzie's Memoirs, pp. 35, 222, 268–77; Acts Parl. Scot. viii. 220, 232; Burnet's Own Time (fol.), pp. 239, 469.]

J. M. R.