was employed as
on the convict ships
1819, Grenada 1821 and
in 1823, the
which arrived in 1825 and the
Morley in 1828.
received a grant of 1200 acres and selected this land on the Hunter River in
1825 when he accompanied William Ogilvie
to the district. He had been in his Majesty's Service for almost twenty
years and received another grant free of quit rent as a Naval Officer. This
second grant was 1360 acres.
He made improvements at Dalswinton - a
dairy was built and the estate was stocked with fine woolled sheep and
cattle and horses. A stone cottage, shingled, and a garden and fencing and
other additions were made.
The following convicts were assigned tp Peter Cunningham
Peter Cunningham was on half pay of the
British navy and recalled to duty in 1830. He never returned to Dalswinton.
William White a
brother of Mrs. Ogilvie of Merton occupied and managed Dalswinton until 1835
when Peter Cunningham's nephew John Pagan took over control.
Peter Cunningham's nieces Janet and Jane arrived in 1836 from Scotland with
Peter Cunningham Pagan and they also lived at Dalswinton. Janet married William Tucker Evans at Dalswinton in 1839.
obtained a license for depasturing stock in the Gwydir district in 1838.
This was beyond the boundaries of the colony at this time. He was still at Dalswinton in 1842 as he imported the famous Clydesdale Galloway Lad
in that year however by 1843 he had perished somewhere to the north
west of the colony.
In 1827 Peter
Two Years in New South Wales; a Series of Letters, Comprising Sketches
of the Actual State of Society in that Colony; of its Peculiar Advantages to
Select here to read Cunningham's description of
Lads and Lasses
Cunningham remained unmarried and died in 1864 aged 74
at East Greenwich.
The Gentleman's Magazine printed his obituary:
March 6 1864.
At Greenwich, aged 71, Peter Miller Cunningham, Esq., Surgeon R.N.
The deceased, who was the younger brother of Thomas
Mounsey Cunningham (a well known name in Scottish provincial
literature), and of Allan Cunningham, was born at Dalswinton, near
Dumfries, in November, 1789, and received his baptismal names from that
Peter Miller who is generally recognised as the first person to make use
of steam in propelling boats.
He received his medical education at the
University of Edinburgh, and as soon as he attained the requisite age,
was appointed an Assistant Surgeon in the Royal Navy. In this capacity
he saw service on the shores of Spain, where the great war was raging,
and on the lakes of America, where he became the close friend of the
celebrated Clapperton. He also served for some years in the Eastern
Archipelago, and had ample opportunities of observing the effect of
tropical climates on the European constitution.
Of this he profited
when, peace having arrived, he was thrown out of the regular line of
duty, and would have been left to vegetate on half-pay if he had not
sought other employment from the Admiralty; in the course of which, to
use the words of the Quarterly Review, he made no less than four
voyages to New South Wales, as Surgeon Superintendent of convict ships,
in which were transported upwards of six hundred convicts of both sexes,
whom he saw landed at Sydney without the loss of a single individual:—a
fact of itself quite sufficient to attest his judgment and ability in
the treatment and management of a set of beings not easily kept in
order.—(Q. R., Jan. 1828.)
The result of his observations during this
period was embodied in his" Two Years in New South Wales, which was
published in 1827, in 2 vols., post 8vo., and rapidly ran through three
large editions. This work is both amusing and instructive, and although
necessarily superseded by more recent works on the same ever-extending
subject, is still frequently quoted, and some centuries hence will
afford a mine of information and speculation to the correspondents of
the Sylvanus Urban of the Antipodes. Mr. Cunningham added the profits
arising from this work to his early savings in the Navy, and expended
them in an attempt to open up a large tract of land in what he then
fondly regarded as his adopted country. But the locality was perhaps
badly chosen; the seasons were certainly unpropitious, and he soon
abandoned the struggle as far as his own personal superintendence was
His well-earned reputation at the Admiralty, however,
speedily procured him employment, and he served successively in the Tyne, 18, on the South American Station, and in the
Asia, 84, in the
Mediterranean. In the course of these years he published a volume of
essays on Electricity and Magnetism, and another on Irrigation
as practised on the Eastern Shores of the Mediterranean." He also
contributed an account of a Visit to the Falkland Islands to the
Athenaeum and was a frequent writer in other periodicals. He was a man
of remarkable powers of observation, and of the most amiable and
conciliatory disposition; and, it is believed, passed through life
without making a single enemy.
His attachment to his brother Allan was
particularly strong, and although death had separated them for more than
twenty years, the name of that brother was among the last articulate
sounds which passed his lips. It was well remarked by the Quarterly
Reviewer, in the article before quoted,
that the appearance of two
such men, in one humble bred cottage-family, is a circumstance of which
their country has reason to he proud.
(1) Wood, W. Allan, Dawn in the valley : the story of settlement in the Hunter
River Valley to 1833, Wentworth Books, Sydney 1972. pp. 202 -203