Encyclopedia Titanica

Alfred Fleming Cunningham

Belfast-born member of the "Guarantee Group"

Alfred Fleming Cunningham
Alfred Fleming Cunningham

Mr Alfred Fleming Cunningham was born at 25 Upper Meadow Street in Belfast, Ireland (modern-day Northern Ireland) on 25 November 1890.

 Alfred’s birth registration
Alfred’s birth registration

Coming from a Presbyterian household, Alfred was the son of James Cunningham (b. 1854), a linen overlooker (supervisor or foreman in a linen mill) and Elizabeth Brooks (b. 1860), both residents of Belfast who had married in that city on 4 September 1885. His mother hailed from Derry but his father's exact origins remain uncertain1.

His siblings were: James (b. 19 September 1886), Robert (b. 16 February 1888), Lily Margaretta (b. 4 September 1892), Thomas (b. 14 December 1894) and Martha (b. 14 January 1897).

His father died from a fever on 30 August 1896 and at the time was described as a foreman yarn dresser; he left behind several children and a pregnant wife and was later buried at Belfast's City Cemetery.

Alfred appears on the 1901 census of Ireland living at 4 Spamount Street in the New Lodge area of Belfast City with his widowed mother and siblings. When the 1911 census was conducted Alfred and his family were resident in the same street, albeit then at number 96 and he was described as an unmarried apprentice ship's fitter.

Alfred was one of the nine-strong "guarantee group" of Harland and Wolff employees chosen to oversee the smooth running of the Titanic's maiden voyage. 

Cunningham, like the rest of his counterparts, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. Initially reported amongst the saved, his mother received word of his safety:


Mrs Cunningham, 4 Spamount Street, Belfast, has received the following messages from Messrs. Harland & Wolff:-

"The following telegram was received from Southampton:- 'Name of A. Cunningham amongst the saved.'"

Cunningham was an apprentice at the Queen's Island, and was one of the party from the shipyard that went out with the liner.  Larne Times, 27 April 1912

The joy of his survival, however, was short-lived and it soon became apparent that he had been lost. He had been confused with surviving steward Andrew Cunningham and the news spread around Ireland.


Messrs. Harland & Wolff received a telegram yesterday to the effect that their apprentice Alfred Cunningham was not amongst the survivors of the Titanic disaster, In other words, this brief message conveys the terrible news that not a solitary member of the Queen's Island staff has been saved. It is extremely sad that the family of the boy Cunningham should now have their hopes dashed, but the statement that he was saved appears to have arisen through a confusion of names. - Northern Whig, 26 April 1912


Messrs. Harland & Wolff have received a telegram to the effect that their apprentice Alfred Cunningham is not amongst the survivors; consequently not one of their staff appears to have survived.

Cunningham was reported on Saturday to have been saved. He was an apprentice fitter, living at 4 Spamount Street. - Dublin Daily Express, 26 April 1912

His brother Robert later lost his life whilst serving in the Merchant Service aboard SS Castlebar which was sunk on 13 March 1918.

His mother lived at Spamount Street for the rest of her life and she died on 29 November 1922; she is buried with her husband in City Cemetery, Belfast. His sister Martha later married labourer James Bailie in October 1920; she died in Belfast on 30 September 1952 and was buried with her parents.


  1. He was the son of James Cunningham, a servant.

References and Sources

Northern Whig, 26 April 1912, THE FATE OF ALFRED CUNNINGHAM
Dublin Daily Express, 26 April 1912, HARLAND & WOLFF'S STAFF
Belfast Newsletter, 22 April 1912, Queen's Island in Mourning
Belfast Weekly Telegraph, 1 June 1912

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Comment and discuss

  1. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke

    Hi I'm trying to track down death notices for Harland and Wolff's nine man Guarantee group. I'm particularly looking for anything relating to Alfred Cunningham who was one of the young apprentices who lost his life doing his duty on board.

  2. Michael H. Standart

    I don't know if anyone has added any such to the database here on ET, but you might try checking out period newspapers from the places where they lived.

  3. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Paul, All I can add is this: Cunningham, Mr. Alfred. Apprentice fitter. Missing. (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 702. Cunningham, mother. Grant £60. Named on the Belfast City Hall Memorial, Belfast. Hope it helps? Cheers Brian

  4. Robby House

    Regarding the Guarantee group, I'm curious to know if any member of this group were present or seen assisting Andrews during his damage assessment of Titanic after impacting the iceberg. So far my own research into Titanic hasn't yielded any information about the activities of the Guarantee Group other than what we know of Andrews. Robby (I see this thread is dead but maybe someone will see my question.)

  5. Robert T. Paige

    An interesting point. I don't know about books and other movies. But in ANTR and the 1997 movie the only person from the Gurantee Group we see is Andrews. Of course Andrews isn't even included in the 1953 "Titanic." Not sure which details each individual of the Guarantee Group would be involved. Is there any information on the other members of the Guarantee Group ? Would each person be assigned a specific duty or area of the ship ?

  6. Emilie

    Well I.don't think they even were assigned to particular tasks. Guarantee Group was a classical policy in H&W of following the ships they built. The group was mainly here to assist the crew and train them with new equipment, and to check after possible changes/improvements.

  7. Coleen Large

    Does anyone know if this man was a member of the Orange Order?

  8. Linda Goodswin

    There is a you tube video that looks more in to the lifes of the Guarantee group i watched it the other... Read full post

  9. Kate Powell

    Hello Linda, The documentary drama Titanic: Birth Of A Legend was quite helpful for information about the members of the Guarantee Group, perhaps that's the programme you watched? I'm very interested in the life and career of Mr Thomas Andrews Jr. as well. He worked so hard on his ship and helped a lot of people during the evacuation of Titanic, I would liked to have met him. Recently I've been looking for more information about Alfred Cunningham, particularly where he was and what he did during Titanic's last hours. Perhaps someone can help.

  10. Cam Houseman

    Born on November 25th, 1890, to Elizabeth (born 1860) and James Cunningham (1854), Alfred "Alfie" Fleming Cunningham is one of the Guarantee gang, an Apprentice Fitter. He was in E-73, amidships near the Engine Room, with Francis "Frank" Parkes, William Campbell, and Ennis Hastings. According to Encyclopedia Titanica and records, in 1896 his Father James died, while Mrs. Cunningham was still pregnant. He had 4 siblings: Martha (1897), Thomas (1896) , James (1887), and Lily Margaret Cunningham (1893). By the 1911 Census, his family had moved to House 96 in Sparmount Street (Dock Ward,... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Alfred Fleming Cunningham
Age: 21 years 4 months and 20 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Fitter
Embarked: Belfast
Ticket No. 239853
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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