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William Cunningham

William Cunningham (1805-1861) was one of the remarkable galaxy of theologians who graced the Faculty of New College, Edinburgh in the early years, where he served as Professor of Church History, and, from 1847, as Principal.

Born at Hamilton, Lanarkshire, on 2 October 1805, and educated at the university of Edinburgh, Cunningham was licensed to preach in 1828, and in 1830 was ordained to a collegiate charge in Greenock, where he remained for three years. In 1834 he was transferred to the charge of Trinity College parish in Edinburgh, and took a prominent role in the Ten Years’ Conflict leading up to the Disruption in 1843.

Cunningham became the Free Church’s first Professor of Theology in New College, Edinburgh, transferring to the chair of Church History in 1845. He succeeded Thomas Chalmers as Principal in 1847, and was elected Moderator of the Free Church Assembly in 1859.

A scholar of profound learning and acute judgment, Cunningham was personally committed to knowing and following the truth, wherever it might lead him in his studies. Consequently his work is characterized by wide-ranging scholarship, by vigorous questioning and, supremely, by a sense of spiritual robustness rarely seen in modern theological writing. His books published by the Trust are The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation and Historical Theology in 2 volumes.