Baker Street Wiki
Advertisement
Baker Street Wiki


Alec Cunningham was a young gentleman who lived with his father on an estate near Reigate in Surrey. The Cunninghams appear as persons of interest in "The Adventure of the Reigate Squire" in connection with the murder of their coachman William Kirwan in an apparent robbery attempt.

History[]

Initially, it appears that William had surprised a serial burglar who had previously robbed a nearby house. Alec tells Sherlock Holmes that at the time of the killing, he had been upstairs smoking and had heard William shout for help from the downstairs hallway. He had rushed to help, but had found William already shot, and the robber had escaped as Alec attempted to help the coachman.

However, Holmes' investigation reveals that Alec and his father were actually responsible for the murder. The Cunninghams had been involved in a long-running and costly legal dispute over half of their estate with a neighbor, Mr Acton. Alec convinced his father to help him steal the critical legal documents from Acton's house. They were unsuccessful, as Acton had given the documents to his solicitor for safekeeping; however, William had witnessed the crime, and attempted to blackmail them. Alec lured William to the house with a note and then shot him, staging the scene to make it look like a burglary attempt. When Holmes discovers the incriminating note in Alec's dressing-coat pocket, the Cunninghams attack him, and Alec attempts to strangle him. Fortunately, Watson and Inspector Forrester rescue him and arrest the Cunninghams for their crimes.

Description[]

In his first appearance, Watson describes Alec Cunningham as a "dashing young fellow, whose bright, smiling expression and showy dress were in strange contrast with the business which had brought us there." He is sarcastic and arrogant, and treats Holmes with smug condescension. Once Holmes unmasks Alec as the killer, however, he reveals a violent and impulsive nature, immediately attacking Holmes despite Watson and Inspector Forrester's presence. Watson notes the change, stating that in the place of his jaunty smirk "the ferocity of a dangerous wild beast gleamed in his dark eyes and distorted his handsome features." Holmes credits both the recklessness of the burglary attempt and the decision to kill William to Alec.

Trivia[]

  • Alec lured William to the house with a note mentioning that he could benefit "Annie Morrison". However, Holmes never investigates her relationship to either man, and her identity and part in the story is never clarified.
Advertisement