Alexander Cuningham ca.1650-1730

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Alexander CUNINGHAM or CUNNINGHAM ca. 1650-1730

Biographical Note

Jurist and scholar Alexander Cuningham (Cunningham) of Block was born in Ayrshire around 1650. He studied at the University of Edinburgh and University of Leiden. Cuningham served as tutor to Lord George Douglas, teaching him about bibliography, in addition to Roman law, classics, and ancient history. Following Douglas's death in 1693, Cuningham oversaw the donation of Douglas's collection to the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh.

Cuningham travelled abroad, collecting books for bibliophiles such as Christopher Codrington, Charles Spencer, Earl of Sutherland, and Andrew Fletcher. His legacy as an antiquarian book trader can be seen in the influence he had on several major libraries - Advocates' Library, the Codrington Library, and Cambridge University Library.

Cuningham died in The Hague after suffering a stroke in 1730. His nephew George Logan was there to oversee his affairs.


Cuningham's books were sold at auction in Leiden by Joannis van der Linden in 1730. The collection consisted of 3818 lots, comprised of 572 folios, 1074 quartos, 2172 octavos & minor formats, among which were 29 incunabula. Subjects included theology, law, medicine, philosophy,geography, history, poetry, classics, literature, and dictionaries, with notable publishers such as Robert Estienne, Aldine Press, Sebastian Gryphius.

Notable selection:

Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (Robert Estienne, Paris, 1543)


National Library Scotland e.155f.13