from Ancestors and Des Tree of Quentin Robinson at Ancestry.com tree search
Evidence for the name of Mary Cunningham Robinson
Mary Cunningham or Mary Anna Cunningham? Mary Cunningham Robinson, wife of Richard Robinson, and mother of Ralph Robinson was born in Ireland, 1716, and after the death of her parents came to America in 1729. Her birth was recorded in the Birth Register of the Dublin Monthly Meeting (Quaker). She was the daughter of Patrick Cunningham and Sarah Tomey Cunningham. According to the Birth register for the Dublin Meeting Patrick and Sara were parents of the following children. John, Anne, Ellen, Joseph, Anne, Elizabeth, Mary, & Katherine. Two daughters were both named Anne. The first Anne died as an infant. The second Anne was born 1713, Elizabeth was born 1714, Mary was born 1716. No middle names were recorded in the original Birth records. The information included in the birth record document are Name, Year of birth, Month, Day. It is important to remember that the Quakers did not use month names but instead used month numbers. The reason that is important is that our month numbering system changed in Great Britain and the British Colonies in 1752. Prior to that year the first month was March and after that date the first month was January. The next information recorded is the place of birth, names of Parents and Parent's abode. The final column is Description but that column was most of the time left blank. The information from the original birth record documents thus tells us that Patrick and Sara had a daughter named Anne In Addition to a daughter named Mary and none of the children were listed with any middle name. Some authorities have suggested that the use of middle names by the early English Quakers was very rare. In any case it would seem unlikely that parents would name one daughter Ann and then turn around and give the same name to another daughter as a middle name. The next main document in understanding Mary Cunningham's history would have been the Certificate from the Dublin Monthly meeting issued to Ann Cunningham in July 1729 and presented to the Philadelphia Monthly meeting in December 1729. The text of that document is as follows: To the Friends of Pennsylvania in America - Greetings Whereas the bearer, Ann Cunningham of this city hath Acquainted us that she hath intention of removing hence, along with her Friends into your parts in order to settle thereaway and Desiring our Certificate concerning her We therfore hereby certifie that the said Ann Cunningham hath frequented our Religious Meetings and made Profession of the same Principles with us, for many years and as we understand has behaved soberly, having a good repute amongst her neighbors and upon enquiry do not find but that she is clear from any engagement on account of marriage and from debt so desiring her welfare and preservation in the truth, We recommend her to your Christian Care and advice for her good as occasion may require. And Whereas Ann Cunningham who is about sixteen years of age, a niece of the above said Ann, goes over an apprentice or servant to and along with our Friend Thomas Milhouse and his wife, and not being mentioned in any other certificate, we think it meet hereby to Certifie that upon Inquiry we do not find but that she is clear of any Engagement on Account of marriage. There are also two of her sisters, namely Elizabeth and Mary Cunningham that go along with their Aunt Ann Cunningham first above named but they are Children so with the Salutation of Dear Love to you we conclude your Friends and Brethren in the Truth. Signed on Behalf of our Men's Meeting Held in Dublin the 29th of the 5th month 1729 Followed by nearly 20 signatures. This document concerns four females. Ann Cunningham who we can assume to be an adult at the time is the main subject of the certificate. As an afterthought the name of her Niece which was also Ann Cunningham given her own certification as being "free from any engagements" as a sort of Rider to her Aunt Ann's certificate. Lastly they mentioned two Children who were under the care of Aunt Ann Cunningham, Mary and Elizabeth. Since both of those girls were not "of age" it was not necessary for them to be declared as being free from engagements/debts/ etc. The exact relationship between the first named Ann and the three sisters is not stated other than the use of the term Aunt. Thus she might have been an unmarried sister to Patrick Cunningham or she might have been a widowed sister-in-law to Patrick or she might have even been a sister to Patrick's father. When I was doing the research at the Quaker Archives located at Swarthmore College I did not have enough time to delve into that question but I suspect it could be answered by reading the records of the Quaker meetings in Ireland. The next primary document to be considered would be the marriage record of Richard Robinson and Mary Cunningham. The marriage date and names were recorded by William Pimm a Quaker of Chester County PA. It is not clear if Pimm had some official position such as Justice of the Peace and actually performed the marriage or if he was simply recording the event which some other person had performed. In that Document we again find only MARY CUNNINGHAM with no middle name shown. Mary Robinson is found in various meeting records in Chester and Philadelphia County between about 1747 and 1781. She is always referred to as Mary without any middle name or initial. It is certain that the Mary Robinson in those records is the same as Mary Cunningham since in 1749 she offered a paper to the Bradford Monthly Meeting in which she acknowledged herself to blame in marrying out of Unity of Friends while at the same time knowing herself to belong to the Friends.... the Certificate from Dublin was in this case used to prove that Mary Robinson was Mary Cunningham and that she was a "birthright" Quaker and knew her marriage was "out of unity". Since Mary remained a member it is presumed that the Meeting forgave her breech of conduct and I suspect that fact is recorded in the Meeting minutes but at the time I was at the Archives I did not have time to do a more complete search. It should be noted that there are also records of Mary's sister Elizabeth who married William Kennison. Mary's sister Ann Cunningham never married and her will was written in 1799 and probated in 1800. In it she bequeathed money to her NEPHEW Richard Robinson, a cloak to Richard's wife Hannah, money to her two nephews William and Joseph Kennison. The remainder of her money to her sister Elizabeth Kinneson , and the rest of her estate to Elizabeth Robinson. Since Mary was not mentioned it is presumed she was already dead. The nephew Richard is the second son of Richard and Mary and the Elizabeth Robinson is probably the wife of Ralph Robinson....unless Richard and Mary also had a daughter as some researchers have concluded. None of these primary sources individually prove that Mary Cunningham did not have a middle name. Taken together, along with the fact that no one that I know of has seen a primary source to the contrary the evidence weighs in favor of her having only the one name. While it would not be considered a primary source there is also a letter written in 1913 by William B. Phelps. He was the great great grandson of Richard and Mary Cunningham Robinson and had been interested in family history, collecting quite a bit of data on the family. In that letter he consistently refers to his great great grandmother as Mary Cunningham or Mary Robinson. Some of the people Phelps would have gathered information from would have been at least one generation nearer to Mary than he was. It is probable that he had also talked to his own grandfather and I believe that if she had been known to have had a middle name he would have reported it as such. I would welcome any further information on her name that includes any primary evidence.