He was the son of George Vanbrugh Cumming. In 1877 Sir William Gordon-Cumming married Mary Louisa Browne.
He was an army officer in the Madras Engineers, became a Colonel in 1895, and served for a time as Chief Engineer in Burmah.
He was involved in the great Baccarat scandal of 1891, which was a sensational news story and was referred to in JW's correspondence. He retired from the army in 1895.
Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1907.