Mr Alfred Fleming Cunningham was born in Belfast, Ireland over the closing months of 1890.
He was the son of James Cunningham (b. 1854) and Elizabeth Brooks (b. 1860) who had married in Belfast over the summer months of 1885. His father, whose exact origins are not clear, died aged 42 on 30 August 1896. His mother was a native of Derry and Alfred was raised in a Presbyterian household with five known siblings: James (b. 1886), Robert (b. 1887), Lily Margaretta (b. 1892), Thomas (b. 1895) and Martha (b. 1897).
Alfred appears on the 1901 census of Ireland living at 4 Spamount Street in the Dock Ward 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 now 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.
Alfred 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:
BELFAST YOUTH ANNOUNCED AMONG THE SAVED
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.
THE FATE OF ALFRED CUNNINGHAM
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
HARLAND & WOLFF'S STAFF
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.