Surprisingly, this is the first full-length biography of the Duke of Cumberland whose memory is enshrined in, and tarnished by, the familiar sobriquet Butcher of Culloden. Born in 1721, the third son of George II, then Prince of Wales, he was theMoreSurprisingly, this is the first full-length biography of the Duke of Cumberland whose memory is enshrined in, and tarnished by, the familiar sobriquet Butcher of Culloden. Born in 1721, the third son of George II, then Prince of Wales, he was the first prince of the Hanoverian line to be born in England and to talk and think in the English idiom.
Advanced to high military rank at an early age - he was a major-general at 21 - he was wounded at Dettingen in 1743 and commanded the Allied troops at Fontenoy in 1745. He was next despatched to Scotland to quell the Jacobite rising in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie. His reputed barbarity after defeating the rebels at Culloden earned him the enduring nickname of Butcher, but General Whitworth argues that this is not supported by the surviving records and shows that Cumberland in fact did everything in his power by contemporary standards to curb the excesses of his over-zealous subordinates.
Certainly the rest of his short life - he died 1765 - gives no indication that he was a man of excessive barbarity. His natural instinct for public service as the duty of a Prince aroused the jealousy of politicians and the accusations from Tory scribblers that he was set on establishing a German style military autocracy. Every step he took to reform a small standing army, chiefly by making the officers more professional, was wrongly interpreted as a step to that end.
He preferred, as political friends, the more genial Fox and Sandwich to the jealousies and suspicions of the power-hungry Duke of Newcastle and the temperamental patriotism of the elder Pitt. It seemed a final mortification when, after reluctantly agreeing to defend his fathers Electorate against the French at the head of a number of Princely German contingents, he gave way before a superior French army and concluded an armistice, which George II refused to ratify.
Summoned home in disgrace, he sought the only way his personal honour could survive injustice by