Select Cummings Surname Genealogy

Here are some Cummings stories and accounts over the years:

The Murder of the Red Comyn

John the Red Comyn was murdered by Robert the Bruce’s associates at Greyfriar’s church on February 10, 1306.  The following modern poem by Ricky Pittman described this treachery:

"John the Red and Robert the Bruce
Met on a cold day in Dumfries
The victory at Roslyn forgotten,
Because of pride and jealousy.

Bruce forged a plan of murder,
Of betrayal fed by greed,
With his brothers he conspired,
To commit the bloody deed.

An argument broke out,
It doesn’t matter why,
The Red’s blood darkened the soil,
As his soul rose to the sky.

Comyn land was divided
Among Bruce’s chosen few,
The clan was forced to flee,
To a land foreign, strange, and new.

A leader died at the church that day,
And never would return,
The victors write the history,
As the Cumming clan would learn.". 

Not all bemoaned the fall of the Comyns, however.  Carrick in his life of Wallace said the following: 

“While the Scots in the low country cried out against the ‘fause Cumyn’s kyn,’ their vassals in Badenoch and Lochaber re-echoed the charge till the very name became cognominal with deceit: - so much so that, in those parts of the Highlands where their influence extended, there was a Gaelic proverb, the English of which was, that “while there are trees in a wood, there will be deceit in a Comyn."

Sir Alexander Cumming's Schemes

In 1729, in consequence of a dream by Lady Cumming, Sir Alexander Cumming of Culter undertook a voyage to America for the purpose of visiting the Cherokee nations.  The next year, at a general meeting of the Indian chiefs in the mountains, he was crowned commander and chief ruler of the Cherokees.  He returned to England with six of their Indian chiefs and presented them to King George the Second at Windsor. 

Later he devised plans for establishing British provincial banks in America and, through his interpretation of the Scriptures, establishing a homeland for the Jews by settling three thousand Jewish families in the Cherokee mountains.  These schemes came to naught, as did his experiments in alchemy.  He ended his life in debt, needing the financial support of his friends.

Cumming and Cummings

Cumming rather than Cummings persisted as the spelling in Scotland.  The following were the Cumming and Cummings numbers in the 1891 census in England and Scotland.

Numbers in 1891 (000's)

Comyns, London Silversmiths

Started by William Comyns in 1645 in London, Comyns is one of the oldest makers of sterling silver in the world.  In the early days, the company specialized in decorative dressing tableware and later, it became known for its interpretative works, particularly those of Paul de-Lamerie, a well-known 18th century English silversmith.  The company was acquired by the Royal Selangor Group of Malaysia in 1993. 

Meanwhile another William Comyns started his silversmith business in a London basement in 1858.  He soon retired and it was his sons, Charles and Richard, who made it very successful in the 1880’s, producing silver pieces for stores like Tiffany.

Reader Feedback - Edward Cummings of Sedbergh

Edward Cummings was born in 1758 in the village of Whittington in Lancashire.  His family moved to Kirkby Lonsdale in Westmorland, when Edward was a child.  Edward moved to Dent near Sedbergh after his marriage in 1791.  He and his wife and family moved to Sedbergh in 1805 and he died in Sedbergh in 1841.

Carol Foreman (

Mary Cumming's Letters Home

In 1811, at the age of twenty, Mary Craig of Lisburn in county Antrim married William Cumming in a service conducted by William's elder brother, the Rev. Thomas Cumming.  William Cumming, formerly of Armagh, and his younger brother, James, had already emigrated to Petersburg in Virginia where they acted as agents for their cousin Alex Brown of Baltimore. 

Mary’s letters consisted of some thirty letters written home from America between 1811 and 1815, most of them to her sister Margaret Craig. 

However, Petersburg lay in the fever-infested North American east coastal plain and Mary's health began to suffer.   It soon became clear to her that she was going to die.  Her farewell letters to her sisters and absent husband are moving in the extreme.  She died in April 1815, not yet four years wed.  William immediately sailed back alone to Ireland and visited Mary's father and sisters.  But within months of his return to Petersburg he too died, probably struck down by the same fatal fever that had claimed his wife.

Cumming and Cummings in America

Overall, the Cumming and Cummings arrivals in America were more likely to have come from Ireland.

Arrivals - by Point of Origin

Clessie Cummins' Early Years

Clessie Cummins was an Indiana farm boy.  His business adventures started in 1904 when he quit school in the eighth grade and stated: "I want to be a machinist and make things." 

According to his son Lyle Cummins’ book The Diesel Odyssey of Clessie Cummins, he worked for a short time around central Indiana in four early automotive-related industries before settling at Nordyke and Marmon which produced the Marmon car.  He was also on the pit crew of the first winner of the Indianapolis 500 mile race, Ray Harroun, who drove a Marmon Wasp to victory in 1911. 

He then went to work for a banker named William Irwin in Columbus, Indiana as his chauffeur and mechanic. In 1919 the Cummins Engine Company was incorporated by Clessie and Irwin, with Irwin investing a great deal of money in Cummins' company.  Clessie's first two diesel patents were applied for in 1921 and production of the Cummins model F engine commenced in 1925. 

Irwin owned a controlling interest in the Purity Supreme supermarket chain in California and Cummins convinced him to install diesel engines in his fleet of trucks used to deliver food and staples to the stores. The diesel trucks were far better at managing the California mountains than the gasoline engines of the time and were much more durable and economical to run.  The success at Purity Supreme attracted considerable attention and the over-the-road diesel truck industry as a result came into being.

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