Mr Bernard Cunningham was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England around 1877.
Details about his early life are not certain but he is believed to have been the son of James Cunningham (b. 1846), a dock labourer, and his wife Bridget (b. 1851), both natives of Co Armagh, Ireland whose other children included: James (b. 1874), Francis (b. 1876) and Susan (b. 1880). That family are shown on the 1881 and 1891 census records living at 61 Brasenose Road, Kirkdale and 36 Kings Road, Bootle, respectively.
When Bernard went to sea is not clear but he first appears on crew records as early as October 1901 when he was a trimmer aboard Lucania, his address at the time given as 7 Hamlet Street, and by December that same year he began a long association as a fireman with Campania which he was still working aboard as late as February 1904. He is known to have worked aboard Teutonic until around September 1909 when he appeared on crew lists as a fireman for the Empress of Britain; his address was then given as 10 Malcolm Street.
He was married in early 1901 to Elizabeth Davies, née Carmichael. Elizabeth, a flax spinner, was born in Widnes, Lancashire in 1866 to Irish parents George and Bridget Carmichael and was first married in 1898 to William Davies but was widowed soon after.
Bernard and his wife appear on the 1901 census living at 7 Hamlet Street, Bootle, the home address of Elizabeth's widowed mother Bridget; Bernard was described as a ship's stoker. By the time of the 1911 census Bernard was absent but his wife was listed at the home of her elder sister Sarah Donnelly and her family, 63 St Johns Road, Kirkdale. Elizabeth was described as a packer in a soap works and her marital status was given as single, perhaps indicating that she and Bernard had separated by this point.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Bernard gave his address as 6 Briton Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.
Bernard Cunningham died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
What became of his widow Elizabeth is not known.
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