Person:William Cunningham (67)

Watchers
William 'Bloody Bill' Cunningham
b.1756
  1. John Cunningham1754-1762 - BEF 1787
  2. Mary Cunningham1755 - 1804
  3. William 'Bloody Bill' Cunningham1756 - 1787
  • HWilliam 'Bloody Bill' Cunningham1756 - 1787
  • WMary Unknown
Facts and Events
Name William 'Bloody Bill' Cunningham
Gender Male
Birth? 1756
Death? 20 JAN 1787 Charleston, South Carolina

Will of William Cunningham

commit my ( soul? ) unto the hands of Almighty God, hoping for redemption of all my sins through the merits of Jesus Christ, my blessed savior and redeemer and my body to the earth should it please God. And as for ( distribution? ) of estate and effects which I shall possess of or entitled unto at the time of my decease:

I give and bequeath the same to the (?following person, that is to say) my dear wife Mary Cunningham, all my estate both real and personal after paying all just debts and demands against the said testator.

And I do hereby nominate and constitute and appoint the said Mary, my lawful wife, sole executrix of this my last will and testament. And I do give and bequeath unto my said executrix all the rest and residual of my estate whatsoever, both real and personal. Hereby revoking and making void all other and former wills by me heretofore and do declare this to be my last will and testament.

( line not readable - appears to refer to King George)

Britain, France and Ireland, King defendant of the faith.

Signed

William Cunningham

Signed, sealed and published and declared by William Cunningham as and for his last will and testament.

Subscibed as witnesses in the presence of the testator

Daniel McGirt William Slater Joseph ( Barnes? ) William ( Melvill? ) Robert ( ? Neelley )


Information on William Cunningham

From "Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871", by Joseph Addison Waddell:

William Cunningham, called "Bloody Bill" in South Carolina, is said to have been a second-cousin of Robert and Patrick. He is otherwise known as Major, or Colonel, William Cunningham, of the British army. Bancroft gives an account of an expedition he commanded in 1781, and the cruelties practised by him. (Vol. X, p. 458.) In Appleton's American Biography we find a sketch of a man of the same name. He was born in Dublin, and came to America in 1774. Gen. Gage appointed him provost-marshal of the army. In 1778 he had charge of the military prisons in Philadelphia, and later those in New York; and in both places was notorious for his cruelties. It is said that he literally starved to death 2,000 prisoners, and hung 250 without trial. At the close of the war he went to England, became very dissipated, and in 1791 was hanged for forgery. This man was probably the same as " Bloody Bill," as it is not likely that the same generation could produce two such men. It is a relief to find that the gallows claimed him at last.


From "Greenville: the history of the city and county in the South Carolina Piedmont" By Archie Vernon Huff, pg. 27:

Two of the most infamous local leaders shared the same epithet, "Bloody Bill". The more widely known was William Cunningham, a cousin of the respected brothers - Robert, Patrick and David - who were planters on the Saluda River north of Ninety-Six and supporters of the crown. Like Richard Pearis, "Bloody Bill" Cunningham was at first a patriot and then a loyalist. He served in the Loyalist Militia until the British withdrew from Ninety-Six in July 1781. Thereafter, in the summer and fall of 1781, when a band of sixty recruits known as "the Bloody Scout" from the region between the Saluda and the Enoree Rivers, Cunningham captured a number of frontier forts and attacked an armed party of patriots south of the Saluda. He then systematically pillaged and looted the area south of the former Indian boundary.


From Rootweb.com post:

William Cunningham ("Bloody Bill") was at first a Whig and afterwards a Tory. There is a record of William Cunningham, private, being paid 20 pounds sterling for service in the Regiment of Rangers, under command of Capt. John Caldwell, from June 26 to July 26, 1775. He was also paid 20 pounds sterling for service Aug. 26 to Sept. 26, 1775. 24

One account of his changing loyalties stated William Cunningham had an argument with the Patriot Capt. John Caldwell over a horse, gave offense to Caldwell and as a result was whipped as a punishment. Thereupon, William Cunningham deserted.24 Other recounts state that William Cunningham took to the Tory Cause after his mother had been roughened and his crippled brother John murdered by overzealous Patriots in the Ninety-Six District. Captain William Ritchie is said to have roughened up the sick and elderly father of William Cunningham in an attempt to learn of the whereabouts of William. Brother John, lame and an epileptic was whipped so hard he died.

William Cunningham soon after joined the ranks of the Royal Militia with a rank of Major and sought revenge against his former allies. It may have been an accumulation of all the events mentioned.

These episodes seem to have triggered a wild and bloody chapter for William Cunningham. He was bent on revenge to anyone for any reason he saw fitting.

One such story tells us that "Bloody Bill", because he was without a horse at the time, walked from Savannah to the Ninety-Six District where he shot dead Captain William Ritchie. Captain Ritchie was the officer who had killed John Cunningham, the brother of "Bloody Bill". Ironically, William Cunningham had served with Captain William Ritchie, under Andrew Williamson, in the Cherokee War of 1776.

The vengeful slaughter was about to begin.

At the site of the Saluda "Old Town" lived several brothers of the Butler family. William Cunningham's men stole a few head of Butler cattle and were pursued by the farmers. The cattle were reclaimed by the Butler men near Granby. It was by this time nightfall and the farmers camped at a deserted cabin at Cloud's Creek. During the night William Cunningham and his followers attacked the Butler party. Shortly the farmers surrendered and were promised departure in exchange for surrendering of their arms and cattle which they agreed upon. But as soon as the prisoners exited the cabin they were slaughtered beyond recognition with hatchets. One of the party managed to escape. When the families of the Butlers and others who had been killed arrived at the site a Bible was found by Mrs. Butler in a piece of her husband's clothing and in this way was able to identify his remains for burial, which were gathered together in a basket.28 Sarah Butler buried her brother and nephew.26

August 1, 1781 William Cunningham raided Laurens. 19

On Nov. 7, 1781 William Cunningham slaughtered a group of surrendering Whigs in the present Saluda Co .22

It was November 17, 1781 "Bloody Bill" Cunningham, mounted on his horse 'Ringtail', with 300 men, had that day crossed Anderson Ford on the Saluda River, a place near where Buzzard Roost Dam is seen today. He was leaving a trail of smoke as he traveled, the first raid being at a house on Cloud's Creek, near the mouth of the Saluda River, killing a Captain Turner and twenty one of his men.25 Cunningham's men then stopped at Towles Blacksmith shop and had their horses shod. When the labor was done they killed Mr. Towles, his son and a Negro boy, burning all the buildings as they left.

John Caldwell (retired Major) was at his home located between Mudlick Creek and Little River. A neighbor rode in advance to warn John of the approaching of Col. Cunningham. John Caldwell did not heed the warning. He felt that he had no quarrel with Col. Cunningham and did not fear for his life. As Col. Cunningham approached John Caldwell he shot him point blank, killing him instantly, and setting fire to the buildings. Some historians write that it was not Col. Cunningham himself but rather two of his men, Elmore and Love who did the actual damage. Rebecca, the wife of John, was found in a daze by Elizabeth, John's sister, who had seen the smoke and ran to assist in any way she could. Guns were heard at Ensley's Shop. The marauders had killed Oliver Towles and two others. Elizabeth alone visited the shop to learn what had happened when guns were heard from a distance.

The neighborhood of the Little River Church was the setting for another of Col. Cunningham's raids on Nov. 18, 1781. 22 Hayes Station, located on Col. Edgehill's field was a militia station. Col. Joseph Hayes was with his twenty men when William Caldwell rode up to warn him of the approaching Col. Cunningham. Pointing to smoke seen southeastward, he said, "That is my brother's house and I know Cunningham is in the neighborhood. Col. Hayes thought little of the warning. William Caldwell said, "I will not stay here to be butchered." Caldwell mounted and fled at full speed leaving at one end of the old field as he saw Cunningham come in at the other.

Col. Hayes and his men ran to the Blacksmith Shop, which Bloody Bill put to fire. As the defenders surrendered the women and children were separated from the men. Cunningham and his men selected a few men to be spared, including Tinsley, Dunlap, Reuben Golding, and Young Burnside.

Col. William Cunningham then hung Col. Hayes and Capt. Daniel Williams.

Joseph Williams, younger brother to Capt. Daniel Williams who was hung cried out, "Oh brother Daniel, what shall I tell mother." Cunningham hewed young Joseph Williams with his sabre saying, "You shall tell her nothing."

There now stands a monument east of Little River and Simmon's Creek. The monument marks the courage of those who gave their lives at that terrible place, giving their names: 25



The Cunningham family, struggling for religious freedom, immigrated from Scotland about 1681, settling in Virginia and Pennsylvania. In 1769 Patrick and Robert Cunningham (born in the Colony of Penna.) arrived in South Carolina. Robert settled at the Indian Island Ford area on Saluda River as his main plantation, yet he had large land holdings elsewhere. They were a family of great influence in the back country.4

The Cunningham men were four brothers: John who was a planter, David who was a deputy surveyor, Robert who was the first magistrate of Ninety-Six District and Patrick who was deputy surveyor of the General Province of South Carolina.4 These men were loyal to the English Crown. There was also their cousin William Cunningham who in 1775 at the age of 19 years became a follower of the Whig Party. There was also an Andrew Cunningham of the Ninety Six District in the Province of South Carolina. He was a Loyalist but I do not know if he was any relation to these other Cunningham men.

Robert Cunningham was the first proprietor of the Indian Island Ford Ferry, granted in 1770. However he lost the franchise when the Revolutionary War broke out because of his loyalty to the Crown. Lord Campbell, Governor of South Carolina, promised the Cunningham men rewards and commendations for their loyalties.5

In the Quill of May/June 2000 - Major John Caldwell recognized the influence that William Cunningham had with the young men in the district and requested his help in recruiting a company of armed volunteers, authorized by Congress, to keep the peace and prevent the Tories from creating a disturbance. The inducement used was that Cunningham would be given the rank of First Lieut. Supposedly included was the arrangement giving William Cunningham the right to retire from the company if they were sent to the low country. However, in time they did go to Charleston and Cunningham tendered his resignation which Major Caldwell refused. On threat of mutiny Cunningham went forward with Major Caldwell to St. John/James Island and upon reaching there Major Caldwell had William Cunningham court-martialed for insubordination. Cunningham was acquitted and freed by the Court and returned to the up-country serving with General Williamson in the campaign against the Cherokee in the Fall of 1776.

William Cunningham ("Bloody Bill") was at first a Whig and afterwards a Tory. There is a record of William Cunningham, private, being paid 20 pounds sterling for service in the Regiment of Rangers, under command of Capt. John Caldwell, from June 26 to July 26, 1775. He was also paid 20 pounds sterling for service Aug. 26 to Sept. 26, 1775. 24

One account of his changing loyalties stated William Cunningham had an argument with the Patriot Capt. John Caldwell over a horse, gave offense to Caldwell and as a result was whipped as a punishment. Thereupon, William Cunningham deserted.24 Other recounts state that William Cunningham took to the Tory Cause after his mother had been roughened and his crippled brother John murdered by overzealous Patriots in the Ninety-Six District. Captain William Ritchie is said to have roughened up the sick and elderly father of William Cunningham in an attempt to learn of the whereabouts of William. Brother John, lame and an epileptic was whipped so hard he died.

William Cunningham soon after joined the ranks of the Royal Militia with a rank of Major and sought revenge against his former allies. It may have been an accumulation of all the events mentioned.


These episodes seem to have triggered a wild and bloody chapter for William Cunningham. He was bent on revenge to anyone for any reason he saw fitting.

One such story tells us that "Bloody Bill", because he was without a horse at the time, walked from Savannah to the Ninety-Six District where he shot dead Captain William Ritchie. Captain Ritchie was the officer who had killed John Cunningham, the brother of "Bloody Bill". Ironically, William Cunningham had served with Captain William Ritchie, under Andrew Williamson, in the Cherokee War of 1776.


On July 17, 1775, Robert and Patrick Cunningham (Tory Officers) seized a large amount of ammunition at Ninety Six. They jailed Major Mayson on the charge of having stolen the ammunition from the King's Fort. (Major, then Colonel, Mayson was given Robert Cunningham's plantation and Ferry Rights when war was declared and Tory properties were confiscated)

On Oct. 23, 1775 Robert Cunningham had openly declared that he would not be bound by the Treaty of Ninety Six. 6, 8 The patriots present wanted to take Robert into custody. John Caldwell made an affidavit against Robert Cunningham, charging him with sedition. Andrew Williamson ordered the arrest of Robert and within a few days Robert was caught by Capt. Benjamin Tutt, who took Robert to Charleston jail. Capt. Tutt was presented a handsome sword in gratitude for his services. 29 Robert Cunningham admitted before the Charleston Congress the truth of the charges, yet declared he had not expressed his opinions except when asked. He was committed to jail "Excommunicando" and without the use of writing material. 8 On Nov. 3, 1775, Patrick set out to free his brother Robert from jail. Accompanied by Jacob Bowman and 60 - 150 men (depending on whose story is being related). Patrick stopped a wagon at Mine Creek (about 5 miles from present day Saluda). The wagon had a shipment of 1,000 pounds of gun powder and 2,000 pounds of lead, intended for delivery to the Cherokee, before hunting season started, to keep the Indians from fighting the Patriots. Patrick Cunningham continued on his journey to Charlestown with saddlebags full of gun powder and twenty three prisoners. 9 There followed a rumor created by the Tory that the gunpowder and lead seized had been meant for the Indians in an invasion on the citizen loyalists and that they had been saved by it's capture. This rumor created such a stir in the back country as to almost create a civil war. 10 Following these rumors the Cunningham ranks multiplied rapidly.11 By Nov. 10, 1775, Patrick Cunningham had a following of 1,890.11 On Dec. 22, 1775, Patrick Cunningham was surrounded by Col. Richardson's men. He shouted for every man to save himself and escaped on a bareback horse. The following day began the "Thirty Hour Snow", covering the ground two feet deep. Through history the expedition was known as the "Snow Campaign".12 The patriots, drenched with rain and sleet and without heavy clothing or tents, were dismissed Jan. 1, 1776 for the winter. 13

The long feared Indian War in the South started in July 1776. Even Robert Cunningham, in jail at the time, had offered to serve heart and soul with the State Troops. 14

On July 21, 1776, Robert Cunningham was set free by Governor Rutledge, on advice of Council. This stirred up much ill feeling in the Ninety Six District and almost caused a mutiny in Major Williamson's militia. 15 Williamson declined the services of Robert Cunningham. It was considered bad policy to allow Cunningham a chance to strengthen his influence. 16


Notice in the S.C. and American General Gazette :(Nov. 1781)

"on the 17th instant, at daybreak, Major Cunningham of the Royal Militia, with his corps..."

the newspaper account in Charlestown concerning the Hayes Station Massacre made William Cunningham seem a great hero.


After the Hayes Station Massacre, "Bloody Bill" and his men continued toward the Tyger River, to present day Spartanburg Co. At the home of Charles Moore lay ill in bed a young Whig officer named Capt. Steadman, who was marked by William Cunningham as his next victim. "Bloody Bill" marched into the house and killed the officer on the spot. Two companions to the officer were gunned down as they tried to escape. The three men were buried on the grounds of the home. Today we know the home as WALNUT GROVE PLANTATION which is off exit 28 on Interstate 26.

On December 30, 1781, Robert Cunningham (by then a Brigadier General) and his band of Tories were dispersed at Mudlick Creek. 17

By late 1781 England had given up the war. The Cherokees were accompanied by a number of Tories as they fled to the mountains. 20

In May 1782, "Bloody Bill" was seen fleeing from Capt. William Butler, of whose father and brother had been butchered by Cunningham and Matthew Love. Cunningham's newest horse, "Silver Heels", carried her rider to the banks of the Saluda near the present day Lexington Co. Line. 21

By May 1782 "Bloody Bill" Cunningham's band of Tories were dispersed in Saluda County. 21

With the Treaty of Paris 1783, at War's end, atrocities of war were to be forgiven. This did not sit well with the people of the Ninety-Six District. One of Bloody Bill Cunningham's most ruthless followers, perhaps even more brutal than William himself was Matthew Love. Matthew had butchered the Butler Men so badly that Mrs. Butler could identify her husband's body only by the bible tucked in his shirt. She placed the pieces of his remains in a basket for proper burial. In remembering these awful times, the citizens did not agree with Judge Burke in setting Matthew Love free, but out of respect for the Judge, they waited until he had retired and then took Matthew Love out to the fields and lynched him. 28 James Caldwell was the "leader" in that act of Lynching. Michael Love, along with Bloody Bill Cunningham had murdered his brother John. It has been related that Matthew Love played the fiddle and danced around those marked for execution by the Tory.


After the Hayes Station Massacre, "Bloody Bill" and his men continued toward the Tyger River, to present day Spartanburg Co. At the home of Charles Moore lay ill in bed a young Whig officer named Capt. Steadman, who was marked by William Cunningham as his next victim. "Bloody Bill" marched into the house and killed the officer on the spot. Two companions to the officer were gunned down as they tried to escape. The three men were buried on the grounds of the home. Today we know the home as WALNUT GROVE PLANTATION which is off exit 28 on Interstate 26.

On December 30, 1781, Robert Cunningham (by then a Brigadier General) and his band of Tories were dispersed at Mudlick Creek. 17

By late 1781 England had given up the war. The Cherokees were accompanied by a number of Tories as they fled to the mountains. 20

In May 1782, "Bloody Bill" was seen fleeing from Capt. William Butler, of whose father and brother had been butchered by Cunningham and Matthew Love. Cunningham's newest horse, "Silver Heels", carried her rider to the banks of the Saluda near the present day Lexington Co. Line. 21


By May 1782 "Bloody Bill" Cunningham's band of Tories were dispersed in Saluda County. 21

With the Treaty of Paris 1783, at War's end, atrocities of war were to be forgiven. This did not sit well with the people of the Ninety-Six District. One of Bloody Bill Cunningham's most ruthless followers, perhaps even more brutal than William himself was Matthew Love. Matthew had butchered the Butler Men so badly that Mrs. Butler could identify her husband's body only by the bible tucked in his shirt. She placed the pieces of his remains in a basket for proper burial. In remembering these awful times, the citizens did not agree with Judge Burke in setting Matthew Love free, but out of respect for the Judge, they waited until he had retired and then took Matthew Love out to the fields and lynched him. 28 James Caldwell was the "leader" in that act of Lynching. Michael Love, along with Bloody Bill Cunningham had murdered his brother John. It has been related that Matthew Love played the fiddle and danced around those marked for execution by the Tory.


After the Revolutionary War - Loyalists - those Militia Officers and Magistrates and those Commissioned by the British Commandant of Charles Town - their estates were confiscated and their persons were banished from the State of South Carolina.

Among those recorded were:

Robert Cunningham

Patrick Cunningham

William Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham of Ninety Six

John Cunningham 27


Ontario Canada has in it's Archives the original depositions of Loyalists and their claims for compensation.

William Cunningham's records are found in Volumn 26, Claim #42. 26

South Carolina has the records on microfilm at their archives.

William Cunningham settled in Florida after the war. He planted on fifteen acres of land belonging to a Lady Egmont on St. John's River.

In April 4, 1785 a letter detailing the evacuation of English in the St. Augustine lands stated that Major William Cunningham, and other British subjects had recently been confined in 'filthy dungeons' by the Spanish authorities on criminal charges and all intercourse with them was refused to representatives of the Crown. The letter suggested that Cunningham might be sent to the Spanish mines where he would not give them further trouble. Major Cunningham was deported to Cuba on May 1, 1785 for taking an active part in a dispute between some Spaniards and Americans. In the meantime the English Crown completely evacuated from St. Augustine, sending most to the Bahamas. There must have been written communication between the English authorities and those of the Cuban Government because in 1786 William was found in the Bahamas in the company of his cousin, Robert Cunningham.

They then traveled together to Canada and London to collect their restitution for losses as a result of the late war. William was only given a tenth of what he claimed he should justly receive as restitution.

Dr. John Oliphant of East Sussex, United Kingdom, researched the Public Record Office, Family Records Centre and the British Library. He found no reference to a Major William Cunningham. I had hoped the 'Mary' mentioned in Cunningham's will would have applied for a widow's pension but none was found.

Perhaps the 'Mary' was the Lady Egmont of Florida.

Death Notice from the

Charleston Morning Post and Daily Advertiser: (1/30/1787)


NASSAU - Jan. 20, 1787, Thursday last, died here Major William Cunningham, formerly of the S.C. Royal Militia.


http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~eurovol/CaldwellGenealogyPages/SouthCarolinaConnections/Disk8Chp116.htm