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Henry Cunningham, son of James Cunningham, farmer, and Margaret Ward, was born in the County of Monaghan, Ireland. He is descended from a Cunningham family that went from England about the time of the commotion connected with the Common wealth. Henry received a common school education; at fifteen years of age became a clerk in a hardware store at Monaghan, being apprentice for five years; then became a salesman; in 1852 went to Manchester, England, and in 1856 crossed the ocean and settled in Kingston. The next year he went into business with Edwin Chown, they purchasing the interest of Luther Hamilton, in the firm of Hamilton and Chown, stove and implement manufacturers; and the firm of Chown and Cunningham, formed in 1857, remains unchanged. Their business has grown from time to time, keeping pace with the progress and demands of the city and country, until they give employment to about seventy men. They manufacture a great variety of cooking, parlor and office stoves, and implements of various kinds and the best styles, and are quite successful operators. Factories like theirs have aided very much in building up the city.
Mr. Cunningham was a Captain of Volunteers during the Fenian raids, holding that office for five years; was Alderman seven or eight years; Mayor in 1873; President of the Board of Trade three years; has been Magistrate since 1862, and Commissioner for taking affidavits since about 1870; and is President of the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society, and of the Mid land Central Agricultural Association. He is a Trustee of three Methodist Churches in Kings ton; Recording Steward of the Kingston Circuit of the Methodist Church of Canada, and a stiring, energetic man of the highest character for probity, ready to lend a hand in any enterprise that will benefit the city of his adoption. In politics he is a Conservative.
Mr. Cunningham has a second wife, his first wife being Miss Catharine Anning, daughter of Samuel Anning, of Kingston, married in 1857, and dying in 1868. His present wife is Margaret, eldest daughter of John Breden, ex-Mayor of Kingston, married in March, 1870. He has had three children by each wife, all of them, three boys and three girls, still living.
The partner of Mr. Cunningham, Edwin Chown, a native of England, came to Canada in 1832, and has been in business in Kingston since 1845, part of the time with his brother, Arthur Chown, and other parties, and part of the time alone. He was running the city Foundry, when it was destroyed by fire in February, 1851, and after that calamity for a few years confined himself to the tin ware and stove business. He has been in the city council, and held other local offices, being a man of much public spirit.