Cummings Surname Genealogy

Cumming and Cummings, originally Comyn, is thought to have derived:

  • from the town of Comines near Lille in France where the Comyn
    family might have originated
  • or from a Breton/Celtic name which had the cam element, meaning “bent” or
    “crooked,” in it.

According to one early account, Robert of Comines with 700 horse from
William the Conqueror seized Durham in 1069 and held it for 48
hours. But the people rose up against him and he perished in the
flames at the burning of the Bishop’s Palace. His nephew William
made it to Scotland and became Chancellor of Scotland in 1133.

The English Cummings spelling predominates today. Cumming rather
than Cummings
has persisted as the spelling in Scotland;
while Cummins is common in Ireland and there are other less
common variants.

Cummings Resources on

Cummings Ancestry

Richard Comyn the nephew of William Comyn, chancellor to King
Henry I of England, was the man who established the Comyn family in
Scotland. From their seat of power at Ruthven castle in the
central Highlands, these Comyns were for a brief time in the 13th
century under
John “the Black” Comyn the most powerful family in

But then they were defeated by their rival to the Scottish
throne, Robert the Bruce. The Comyn chief, the Red Comyn,

“In 1306 Bruce and Comyn quarrelled and
the old antagonism burst out again between these two high-spirited
men. Comyn seized Bruce by the throat and Bruce stabbed Comyn,
who was either mortally injured or killed later by Bruce’s supporters.”

Bruce subsequently stamped out
the Comyns of Buchan in Aberdeenshire.

the 15th century, the Cumming – as their clan came to be known –
had become just another Highland clan, although still of some
significance in the wild mountainous countryside around Badenoch in SW

England. The Cummings
name was relatively frequent
in Norfolk, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire in the 12th and 13th centuries,
perhaps as a result of Breton immigration. The early spelling was
again Comyn. Sir John Comyn held Ulceby manor in Lincolnshire
from the early 14th century (his widow Lady Maud being recorded as
having two brass pots stolen in 1332). There were Comyn merchants
in London
. Stephen Comyn, the son of a London
merchant, was an English
naval chaplain who
served with Nelson at the Battle of the Nile and the Battle of

Later there was a
northward shift in the Comyns/Cummings population, perhaps as a result
Scottish Cummings crossing the border. A Comyn family was
recorded as living in Hilderstone near Lancaster in the
1450’s. They were still there by the 1800’s, but had become
first Cumming and then Cummings. One family history started with
, a Sedbergh farmer in Cumberland who was born in

Ireland. Cummings or
Cummins in Ireland could be an English or Scottish import or an
anglicization of an old Irish name. Cummings is mainly to be found
mainly in county Antrim and Dublin, Cummins in Cork and
Tipperary. One Cummins family were prominent doctors in the city
of Cork from the mid 18th through the 19th century. Willie
Cummins was part of a
Cork family hurling dynasty which lasted from the 1930’s to the

The Irish form of the name was MacCoimin
or O’Coimin – a
descendant of Coimin, a
personal name derived from the diminutive of cam meaning “crooked.” There
were MacCoimins in Armagh and O’Coimins in Mayo and later in
Cork. Cormac O’Coimin was one of the well-known blind bards and
shanachies of the 18th century.

America. Isaac
Cummings arrived in Ipswich,
Massachusetts in 1638. He was, according to tradition, of ancient
Scottish Comyn descent. But he appears to have come from East
Anglia in England, on the Essex/Suffolk border. Later Cummings
settled in Cornish, New Hampshire. His line in
America was traced in George Mooar’s 1903 book The Cummings Memorial.  

Nicholas Cummins had come to the Virginia colony from London on the Gift in 1622. His descendants
were to be found in Northumberland county, Virginia. Some moved
to Kentucky in the early 1800’s. Others migrated to North
Carolina and, from 1829, to Henry county,
Indiana. It was here that Clessie Cummins, a rural Indiana
boy, started his entrepreneurial life. He pioneered diesel
engines and founded the Cummins Engine Company.

William Cumming came to Annapolis, Maryland in 1717. He was a
planter and a lawyer. His son William, also a lawyer, was a
delegate to the Continental Congress for North Carolina in 1785.
After the Revolutionary War, the Cummings moved to Augusta, Georgia
where Thomas served as the town’s first mayor in 1798 and his family
were prominent cotton planters. Alfred Cumming was governor of
Utah territory in 1858, replacing
Brigham Young.

Overall, the
Cumming and Cummings arrivals in America
were more likely
to have come from Ireland. In 1811 William Cumming, a cotton
agent from Armagh, came with his wife
Mary to Baltimore where his relatives had settled. Their life can
be recaptured as Mary Cumming’s letters home have
been preserved (they were
published in 1982). Arthur Cummins from county Carlow arrived in
America with his family in 1855, first staying in New Jersey and later
moving onto Louisville, Kentucky.

Canada. Robert Cummins of
Maryland was one of the first English settlers of Nova Scotia in
1765. But he then returned to Baltimore, building his Monckton
Mills estate there. Samuel Cummings and his family were Loyalists
from New Hampshire who moved to Annapolis, Nova Scotia in 1782.
Much later in the 1820’s came Andrew Cummings from county Carlow in
David and Beatrice were Lithuanian Jews who had adopted the Cummings
name in the 1890’s on their arrival in St. John, New Brunswick – where
the two eldest sons, Nathan and Maxwell, were later born.

“It was pure chance that they were born
Canadian. Their parents had disembarked at St. John, the first
port of call, assuming that it was their destination, New York City.”

Nathan pursued a business career in the United States, founding
Consolidated Foods. Maxwell went to Montreal with his
family in 1911 and began there a hugely successful career in real
estate brokerage and

Australia. John and
Ann Cumming left Aberdeen in Scotland for Australia in 1833 and started
Cumming’s brewery in Melbourne six years later. Their son John
became a large sheep farmer and his son Thomas founded the Australian
Sheepbreeders Association in 1877. Also coming to Melbourne, in
1840, were Ewen and Elizabeth Cumming and their family from the
Scottish Highlands.

Thomas Cummins (later Cummings) and his wife Anne arrived in South
Australia from Ireland in 1853. It was their son James who
started the family into horse racing. He died in 1911 after
falling from his horse. However, the mantle was later taken up by the
father and son pairing of Jim and Bart Cummings. Bart Cummings
has had twelve winners of the Melbourne Cup since he started out in

Cummings Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Cummings Names

John Comyn, known as the Black Comyn, was Guardian of Scotland
and one of the competitors for the Scottish throne in the 13th century.
was the Scottish watchmaker who patented the flush
toilet in 1775.
Clessie Cummins was the founder
of the Cummins Engine Co. in Indiana in 1919.
E.E. Cummings was the American
poet renowned for his lower-case style.
Samuel Cummings was an
American arms dealer whose company came to dominate global small arms
sales in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Select Cummings Today

  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lincolnshire)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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