Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Cuninghame, Archibald

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Cuninghame, Archibald, was a barrister in Melbourne "in the early days," and attained to prominence in the public affairs of the inchoate community. In 1845, prior to the separation of Port Phillip (Victoria) from New South Wales, it was proposed by the authorities of the latter colony to float an immigration loan in London, as security for which the lands of Port Phillip would be pledged, as well as those of the Mother colony. Under these circumstances a public meeting was held of the leading residents of Port Phillip, under the presidency of the Mayor of Melbourne, on Sept. 28th, 1845, for the purpose of taking into consideration the necessity of petitioning the Queen against the proposed scheme for pledging the lands of Port Phillip jointly with those of New South Wales proper, and to consider the propriety of appointing an agent to proceed to England to protest against the course proposed, and also to further the great cause of separation. The meeting passed resolutions against any further alienation of the land fund to afford labour to the middle district, and the scheme was also objected, to as creating a new and almost insurmountable barrier to separation. The assemblage appointed Mr. Cuninghame as their delegate to proceed to England to represent the views of the colonists at the centre of the Empire, and he was thus the first somewhat informally selected Agent-General of Victoria in London. A committee was also nominated to frame instructions for the guidance of the delegate, and to draw up a petition, requesting the Colonial Secretary to hold his hand until Mr. Cuninghame's arrival in London. On the committee were such well-known names as those of Curr, Westgarth, Niel Black, Stephen Henty, William Campbell, Verner, Stawell (afterwards Sir William), Pohlman, McCombie, Dalgety, and O'Shanassy. Mr. Cuninghame continued to represent the colony in England for some years, and died at the family residence, Thornton House, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, in October 1856, without having revisited Australia. He was the eldest son of Lieut.-Col. John Cuninghame of Caddall and Thornton, and Sarah his wife, only child of Major John Peebles.