Andrew Orr Cunningham was born on 3 July 1873 in Shotts, Lanarkshire, Scotland, a small town midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. He was the son of David Cunningham (b. 1848), a joiner, and his wife Jeanie Thomson (b. 1852). His father was Glaswegian by birth and his mother was born in Largo, Fife. He had two known siblings, Elizabeth (b. 1875) and Jessie (b. 1880).
He first appears on the 1881 census living in St Andrew, Edinburgh but there is no sign of he or his family on the 1891 and 1901 census reports.
He was married in St Luke's Church, Camden, London on 21 August 1901 to Emily Susan Jones (b. 1877 in London) where he was listed as a sea steward. The couple would have two children: Sidney Andrew (1902-1984) and Gloria (1907-1992), later Mrs Charles Callahan.
Andrew is absent from the 1911 census, most likely at sea, but his wife and children are resident at 60 Charlton Road, Southampton.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 60 Charlton Road, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Oceanic. As a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s. The passengers he served included John and Florence Bradley Cumings, Walter and Virginia Clark, William Thomas Stead, Edith and Margaret Graham and Miss Graham's governess Elizabeth Shutes.
On the night of the 14 April, Cunningham was stationed on D-deck "to answer bells". He was on his way there when the collision occurred. He then answered two bells; the ladies, whose names he could not remember, wanted to know how to put on lifebelts. Then just after that, "I looked down on E-deck (the stairway that led to the post office) to see how things were. The water was down there then. That was the level with F deck....I knew it was pretty bad then." Around 12.30am he went to his station on C-deck, aft on the starboard side.
The order was given to waken the passengers but by this time "All of my passengers had gone out except three." Mr Cummings had gone back to get an overcoat and Mr Clark returned to put on his life belt. "Mr Stead asked how to fix on a lifebelt and I helped him put it on and that was the last of my passengers."
Later, around two o'clock and on deck, after all the lifeboats had gone, Cunningham threw himself into the water. "I had a mate (Sidney Conrad Siebert) with me. We both left the ship together. Cunningham swam clear of the ship, reporting that it sank about a half hour later. He then swam toward lifeboat 4 with Quartermaster Walter Perkis in charge, and he was picked up. In the boat, he stated later, he saw lamp trimmer Hemming, a sailor [sic] named Foley, the Q. M. and fireman F. Smith [?]. His mate Siebert was picked up later but died in the boat. Also, another man was picked out of the water, storekeeper Frank Prentice. Cunningham then took an oar and helped row. He remembered going on the Carpathia about 7.30. Cunningham stated that lifeboat 4 did not have a light but did have water. After getting on the Carpathia he saw three or four icebergs and a long field of ice.
Andrew remained in Southampton for the rest of his life and apparently continued to work at sea. He and his family later lived at 35 Upper Brownhill Road.
Andrew Cunningham passed away in the Royal South Hampshire Hospital on 1 September 1932. His widow later died on 28 April 1962.