51st Regimental Badge
[Burridge Collection]
James Cunningham’s Discharge to Pension document, page 1 [WO97-646-47]
James Cunningham’s Discharge to Pension Medical Report p.3 [WO97-646-47]
51st Regiment Depot Muster (England) showing James Cunningham’s embarkation on board Convict Ship HMS Buffalo, 23 May 1839 [WO12-6201].
Muster Roll & Pay List record on arrival in Western Australia July to September 1840 at King George Sound [WO12-6202-119]
Transfer of Pension record to Captain Bruce’s Pay List on 1st July 1851 [WO22-248-39]
James CUNNINGHAMName variations: None encountered.
Birth Date and Place1806 Rahoon, Galway, Ireland [WO97-646-47].
Baptism Date and Place1 Apr 1806 Rahoon Church, Diocese of Galway [Rahoon Church Registers].
Marriage Date and Place25 Jan 1828 – not verified [ERIC p.737].
SpouseAnne THOMAS [WABDM children].
ChildrenMary Jane b. 1839 At sea, en route to Tasmania.
Male (stillborn) 1841 Albany, Western Australia [WHIT-STAT p.99].
Male b.&d. 1842 Albany, Western Australia [WHIT-STAT p.99].
Elizabeth b. 1844 Bunbury, Western Australia [ERIC p.737].
James b. 1846 d. 1848 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.837, ERIC p.737].
Frederick b.&d. 1848 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.1093,325].
Robert Thomas b.1849 Perth,Western Australia [WABDM Reg.1294].
George James b.1851 Perth, Western Australia [ERIC p.737].
Anne b.1858 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.4406].
OccupationsLabourer 1825 [WO97-646-47].
Shoemaker 1849 [ERIC p.737].
Land Acquisition in WA
Death Date and Place18 May 1871 Perth, Western Australia [WABDM Reg.4959].
Burial Date and Place
Death, Funeral, Obituary NoticesNone.
Will and ProbateNone.
Regiment51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding, The Kings Own Light Infantry) Regiment.
Soldier No. and Rank#501 Private [WO97-646-47].
Attestation Date and Place28 Nov 1825 Galway.
Physical DescriptionHeight: 5 ft. 7½ ins. Complexion: fair. Eyes: hazel. Hair: brown.
Service/CampaignsThe Ionian Islands 6 years 52 days.
The Australian Colonies 7 years.
Remainder at Home.
Promotions & ReductionsPrivate to Corporal 1 Mar 1831.
Corporal to Private 6 Aug 1834.
Medals, Clasps and BadgesNone.
Casualty/MedicalAffected with chronic rheumatism and quite worn out. Unfit for service in consequence of rheumatism and age.
Regimental Courts Martial
District Courts MartialNone.
General Courts MartialNone.
Arrival Australian State: Ship and DateBuffalo – Convict Ship.
Departed Chatham, Kent 23 May 1839 for Quebec, Canada [WO12-6201-200].
Departed Quebec 28 Sep 1839; arrived Hobart, Van Diemens Land 11 Feb 1840 [DPS].
Re-joined 51st Regiment in Hobart 15 Feb 1840 [WO12-6201-169].
Arrival Western Australia: Ship and DateRunnymede 8 Jun 1840 from Hobart [TROVE].
Disembarked at King Georges Sound [WO12-6202-53].
It has been suggested that Cunningham arrived from VDL on 21 Oct 1840, but he appears on a Muster in King Georges Sound from June 1840 with 23 privates and a colour sergeant, who were among  the first arrivals of the detachment.
The only shipping intelligence relating to 51st Regiment for the month of October is the arrival of Champion from KGS to Fremantle on 19 Oct 1840 [TROVE]. Cunningham received two days pay for being on board ship and may have travelled to and from HQ in this period [WO12-6202-119, Whiteley].
Military Postings within Western AustraliaKing Georges Sound Jun 1840 to Jan 1843 [WO12-6202].
Perth HQ Feb 1843 to Sep 1843 [WO12-6204/6205].
Vasse Oct 1843 to Dec 1843 [WO12-6205].
Bunbury Jan 1844 to Jun 1846 [WO12-6205/6206/6208].
Garrison Duty or Perth HQ Jul 1846 to Mar 1847 [WO12-6208].
Discharge Date and Place11 Mar 1847 Perth, Western Australia [WO97-646-47].
24 Aug 1847 Horse Guards, Westminster, London [WO97-646-47].
Age at Discharge40 years 5 months.
Length of Service21 years 125 days.
Chelsea Pension ReferenceWO97-646-47.
Pension DistrictPerth, Western Australia.
Pension Amount1/0d. per diem.
Notes on Pension PaymentPaid by Regiment to 31 Mar 1848.
Paid by Commissariat to 30 Jun 1851.
Thereafter transferred to Captain Bruce’s Pay List.
There is nothing to suggest Cunningham was taken onto EPF strength, this was merely a means of receiving his pension entitlement as a military pensioner once Perth became a Pension District with the arrival of Captain John Bruce and the EPF men [WO22-248-39].


James Cunningham was a convict guard on board HMS Buffalo along with thirty other men from the 51st Regiment. Click here for a list of men who embarked at Chatham on 23rd May 1839. Three of his comrades on board were discharged at the Swan River and also became Redcoat Settlers.

No corroborating source can be found for for this [ERIC p.737] date of marriage. It seems unlikely that James Cunningham was under 20 years when he married and that no children were born between 1828 and 1839. If Mrs Cunningham accompanied her husband in his Army postings, she could have given birth to Mary Jane at any location enroute to Australia.

There are a number of men named J. Cunningham recorded as serving in the various volunteer rifle corps. The only record to match the relevant timeframe is a J. Cunningham on the Nominal Roll of the Fremantle Rifle Corps [Jim Grant, 1998].

James Cunningham left a legacy of service in the police force and military. His son George James Cunningham (1851-1925) joined the WA Police Force in October 1872; he served for just one year and moved to Adelaide where he worked as a gardener and policeman. He returned to Perth as a married man and re-joined the WA Police in August 1891. Only a few months later he was appointed Police Orderly to the Governor, Sir William Robinson. He maintained this position, gathering police promotions along the way, until retirement on 1st October 1920. He and his wife Lavinia had six sons all of whom variously served in the Boer War and World War I … all suriving those conflicts.
[Western Ancestor December 2006 p.145, McDonald and Conole, utilising sources therein; Biographical Index of South Australia p.357]

More research is required from files in the WA State Records Office.  Updates will be posted when further information becomes available.