Manuscripts and Special Collections

William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765; army officer)

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William was the third son of the Prince of Wales, later George II, and was born in London, and was created Duke of Cumberland at the age of four. After two years in the navy, he transferred to the army in 1742 and soon attained the rank of major-general. Cumberland saw action in Europe between 1742 and 1745, and in 1745 was made captain-general of British land forces.

His military reputation was made during the Jacobite uprising of 1745-46. When Charles Edward Stuart, 'The Young Pretender', entered Edinburgh, Cumberland was ordered to send part of his army on the Continent to England. He landed in England on 19 October following General Cope's defeat at Prestonpans, and the following month took command of one of the armies in the south of England. He pursued Charles north from Derby and caught up with a portion of his army at Clifton near Penrith. The battle was inconclusive, but Cumberland ensured the surrender of the rebels at Carlisle before returning to London.

After the defeat of General Hawley at Falkirk in January 1746, Cumberland was appointed as commander of the forces in Scotland. He based his army in Aberdeen, and in April set out to engage with Charles's troops near Inverness.

Cumberland's victory at the battle of Culloden on 16 April 1746 was decisive, and he showed no mercy in dealing with the survivors. His soldiers were given orders to hunt down the rebels and excecute them. They pillaged the Highland countryside and burned the clansmen's huts, gaining Cumberland the nickname 'Butcher'. He left Scotland in July and received a hero's welcome in London, and an annual income of £25,000 for his victory.

In 1747 Cumberland resumed his command in Holland, but was defeated at the battle of Laeffelt. He returned to active service when the Seven Years War broke out, and was defeated at Hastenbeck in 1757. Cumberland signed the Treaty of Kloster-Zeven, to the anger of George II, who recalled him in disgrace. Cumberland resigned all his commissions. He took an interest in politics, and gave advice on military matters, but did not take an active public role during the remainder of his life. He suffered a stroke in 1760 and died in 1765.



Manuscripts and Special Collections

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