Duke of Cumberland

William Augustus Hanover was born on 15 April 1721 in London. He was the third son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. He was created Duke of Cumberland in 1726. A soldier by profession, he fought in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), becoming commander of the allied forces in 1745. He was defeated by France's Marshal Maurice de Saxe at the Battle of Fontenoy on 11 May 1745.

Later in 1745 Cumberland was recalled to England to oppose the invasion of England of the Jacobite forces under Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, grandson of the deposed king James II. Cumberland's army defeated the Scots at the Battle of Culloden Moor in Inverness on 16 April 1746, at which about 1,000 Scots died. After the battle he was asked for orders: he wrote, "No quarter", on the back of a playing card (the nine of diamonds - still known as the 'curse of Scotland').  The duke remained in Scotland for three months after the battle, rounding up some 3,500 men and executing about 120. The English soldiers killed everyone they found, regardless of age or gender (see John Prebble's Culloden, Penguin, 1961)

Because of his inhumane actions following Culloden, the duke was given the epithet "Butcher" Cumberland, but he was also honored by the King who named a flower after him, now known as the Sweet William. In Scotland the name 'Stinking Billy' was applied to a weed by the Highland Scots - it is Ragwort which is smelly and poisonous to horses. They are different plants with different names but relate to the same battle and the same person

 

After Culloden, Cumberland returned to the European theatre of war. in July 1747 he lost the Battle of Langfeld to Saxe. During the Seven Years' War (1756-63) he was defeated by the French at the Battle of Hastenbeck in July 1757. Hastenbeck was in Hanover, one of George II's possessions. Because he signed the Convention of Klosterzeven in September 1757, promising to evacuate Hanover, Cumberland was dismissed by his father who repudiated the agreement. Cumberland's refusal to serve as commander in chief unless William Pitt was dismissed as Secretary of State led to Pitt's fall in April 1757.

In 1765 the duke was asked by his nephew, King George III, to head a ministry, a role that he accepted. Cumberland appointed the second Marquis of Rockingham as First Lord of the Treasury. Cumberland became ill in the summer of 1765 and died from a brain-clot on 31 October of the same year.