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 1 (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.
He was married in early 1901 to Elizabeth Davies (b. 1871), a native of Widnes, Lancashire. The newly married couple appear on the 1901 census living at 7 Hamlet Street, Bootle and Bernard is described as a ship's stoker. He is believed to have served aboard Teutonic and Empress of Britain in years prior to Titanic.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 6 Briton Street, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic and as a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.
Cunningham died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
What became of his widow Elizabeth is not clear.