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William Cunningham


1849 - 1919

Economic historian and clergyman. Born in Edinburgh, Cunningham was educated at the Edinburgh Academy and Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge. In 1873, he was ordained as a Church Minister. He lectured in history at Cambridge from 1884, served as Chaplain of Trinity College and was concurrently appointed Vicar of Great St. Mary's (Cambridge) in 1887. In 1891, he accepted the Chair of Economics and Statistics at Kings College, London, which he occupied until 1897. He lectured in economic history at Harvard University (1899), was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1902 and was appointed Archdeacon of Ely (1906), a position he held until his death.

Cunningham was an opponent of Neo-Classical economics, he felt that the operation of economic principles were dependent on historical, cultural and social context. A leader in the field of economic history, he was principally responsible for the acceptance of the subject as an academic discipline in British and American universities.

A prolific author, his major works include The Growth of English Industry and Commerce (published in three volumes, from 1882), the standard reference work on English industrial history, The Use and Abuse of Money (1891), Western Civilization in its Economic Aspect in Ancient Times (1898), and Western Civilization in its Economic Aspect in Modern Times (1900), The Rise and Decline of the Free Trade Movements (1905) and Christianity and Politics (1916).

He died in Cambridge (England).


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