Sergeant Major Patrick Cunningham was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1839, the son of Patrick Cunningham and Sarah Drohan. He enlists in the 1st Battalion 16th Regiment of Foot in September 1857. He came to Canada when, at the time, the Trent affair was likely to lead to war between Great Britain and the United States, with the 16th, under the command of Colonel Peacock, and remained in Montreal about two years.
In 1863 he came to Toronto and assisted in establishing the first military school in Canada. After handing it over to the 47th Regiment, he did duty in several cities of Western Canada, and also at the Thorold Instructive Camp, all in connection with the service.
In 1867 he gave up matters military, and entered the Railway Company’s service for three years, part of which time he acted as conductor. A knowledge of carpentering gave him the opportunity of exercising his talents in that direction for ten years, and even now he occasionally handles the tools of his trade.
Mr. Cunningham has been a member of the Queen’s Own for eleven years, ten of which he has occupied the honourable position of Sergeant-Major.”
From the History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario, Biographical notices, published in 1885.
Cunningham returns to military life some time before 1873 when he is listed as Sergeant on the Queen’s Own Rifles Guard of Honour paylist. Likely due to his previous service in the 16th Foot he is appointed Acting Sergeant Major in June 1877 and appointed Sergeant Major August 8th 1879. It was as Sergeant Major that he serves in the North West Campaign in 1885. He is succeeded as Sergeant Major 14 April 1886 by John F Crean.
He died 4 July 1925 and is buried in Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery, Toronto.
Born: 17 March, 1839, Dublin, Ireland
Died: 1925, Toronto, Canada
Former Service: 16th Regiment British Army under command of Colonel Peacock
Trade: Soldier/Railway Service
Date of attestation: 1857 (16th Regiment)
Timeline of service:
- 1863, came to Toronto to assist in establishing the first military school in Canada;
- 1866, participated as part of the 16th Foot in Fenian Raids;
- 1873, listed as Sergeant, Queen’s Own Rifles Guard of Honour paylist;
- 1875, listed as Paymaster-Sergeant, Niagara Camp paylist;
- 1877, listed as Armory Sgt Belleville riots;
- 1877 June 13, appointed as Acting Sergeant Major, regimental orders;
- 1877-78, listed as Sergeant Major, D Company’s nominal roll Annual Drill;
- 1878-79, listed as Sergeant Major, D Company’s nominal roll Annual Drill;
- 1879, in photo of Staff Sergeants;
- 1879 Aug 8, appointed Sergeant Major, Regimental Orders;
- 1880 1 March, received 6 year good service badge;
- 1880-81, listed as Sergeant Major, D Company’s nominal roll Annual Drill;
- 1881-82, listed as Sergeant Major, D Company’s nominal roll Annual Drill;
- 1882-83, listed as Sergeant Major, D Company’s nominal roll Annual Drill;
- 1885, listed as Sergeant Major during North-West Rebellion;
- 1886, listed as Sgt Major in photo of Sergeant’s Mess;
- 1886, Oct 14, Sergeant Major JF Crean appointed as Sergeant Major.