Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, KG, KB, FRS (15 April 1721  – 31 October 1765) was the third and youngest son of King George II of Great Britain and Ireland and his wife, Caroline of Ansbach.
- Early Life
- Early Military Career
- War of The Austrian Succession
- Jacobite Rebellion - "The Forty-Five"
- Seven Years' War
- Final Years
- Titles, Styles, Honours and Arms
William was born in Leicester House, in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square), Westminster, London, where his parents had moved after his grandfather, George I, accepted the invitation to ascend the British throne. His godparents included the King and Queen in Prussia (his paternal aunt), but they apparently did not take part in person and were presumably represented by proxy. On 27 July 1726,at only four years old, he was created Duke of Cumberland, Marquess of Berkhamstead in the County of Hertford, Earl of Kennington in the County of Surrey, Viscount of Trematon in the County of Cornwall, and Baron of the Isle of Alderney. The young prince was educated well; his mother appointed Edmond Halley as a tutor. Another of his tutors (and occasional proxy for him) was his mother's favourite Andrew Fountaine. At Hampton Court Palace, apartments were designed specially for him by William Kent. William's elder brother Frederick, Prince of Wales, proposed dividing the king's dominions. Fre...
From childhood, he showed physical courage and ability, and became his parents' favourite. He was enrolled in the 2nd Foot Guards and made a Knight of the Bath aged four. He was intended, by the King and Queen, for the office of Lord High Admiral, and, in 1740, he sailed, as a volunteer, in the fleet under the command of Sir John Norris, but he quickly became dissatisfied with the Navy, and, instead secured the post of colonel of the First Regiment of Foot Guardson 20 February 1741.
In December 1742, he became a major-general, and, the following year, he first saw active service in Germany. George II and the "martial boy" shared in the glory of the Battle of Dettingen (27 June 1743), and Cumberland, who was wounded in the leg by a musket ball. After the battle he was made a lieutenant general. In 1745 Cumberland was given the honorary title of Captain-General of the British land forces and in Flanders became Commander-in-Chiefof the allied British, Hanoverian, Austrian and Dutch troops despite his inexperience. He initially planned to take the offensive against the French, in a move he hoped would lead to the capture of Paris, but was persuaded by his advisors that this was impossible given the vast numerical superiority of the enemy. As it became clear that the French intention was to take Tournai, Cumberland advanced to the relief of the town, which was besieged by Marshal Saxe. In the resulting Battle of Fontenoy on 11 May 1745 the Allies were defeated by th...
As the leading British general of the day, he was chosen to put a decisive stop to Prince Charles Edward Stuart, a direct descendent of James II (James VII of Scotland, last Stuart king on the male line), in the Jacobite rising of 1745. His appointment was popular, and caused morale to soar amongst the public and troops loyal to King George. Recalled from Flanders, Cumberland proceeded with preparations for quelling the Stuart (Jacobite) uprising. The Jacobite army had advanced southwards into England, hoping that English Jacobites would rise and join them. However after receiving only limited support such as the Manchester Regiment, the followers of Charles decided to withdraw to Scotland. Cumberland joined the Midland army under Ligonier, and began pursuit of the enemy, as the Stuarts retreated northwards from Derby. On reaching Penrith, the advanced portion of his army was repulsed on Clifton Moor in December 1745, and Cumberland became aware that an attempt to overtake the retre...
Cumberland's unpopularity, which had steadily increased since Culloden, interfered greatly with his success in politics, and when the death of the Prince of Wales brought the latter's son, a minor, next in succession to the throne, the Duke was not able to secure for himself the contingent regency. As a compromise, the regency was vested in the Dowager Princess of Wales, who considered him an enemy, but her powers were curtailed and she was to be advised by a committee of twelve men, headed by Cumberland.
In 1757, the Seven Years' War having broken out, Cumberland was placed at the head of the Army of Observation, a force of German allies paid for by Britain which intended to defend Hanover from a French attack. At the Battle of Hastenbeck, near Hamelin, on 26 July 1757, Cumberland's army was defeated by the superior forces of d'Estrées. Despite seemingly having the advantage towards the end of the battle, Cumberland's forces began to retreat. Within a short time discipline had collapsed, and Cumberland's army headed northwards in total disorder. Cumberland hoped that the Royal Navy might bring him reinforcements and supplies which would allow him to regroup and counterattack, but the British mounted an expedition to Rochefortinstead, despite suggestions that it should be sent to aid Cumberland. By September 1757 Cumberland and his forces had retreated to the fortified town of Stade on the North Sea coast. The King gave him discretionary powers to negotiate a separate peace. Hemmed i...
Cumberland's final years were lived out during the first years of the reign of his nephew, George III, who acceded to the throne on the death of William's father on 25 October 1760: Cumberland became a very influential advisor to the King and was instrumental in establishing the First Rockingham Ministry. Cabinet meetings were held either at Cumberland Lodge, his home in Windsor, or at Upper Grosvenor Street, his house in London. Cumberland never fully recovered from his wound at Dettingen, and was obese. In August 1760, he suffered a stroke and, on 31 October 1765, he died at Upper Grosvenor Street in London. He was buried beneath the floor of the nave of the Henry VII Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.He died unmarried.
Titles and styles
1. 26 April 1721 – 27 July 1726: His Royal HighnessPrince William 2. 27 July 1726 – 31 October 1765: His Royal HighnessThe Duke of Cumberland The Duke's full style as proclaimed at his funeral by Garter King-of-Arms was: "the [...] most High, most Mighty, and most Illustrious Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and Duke of Brunswick and Lunenburgh, Marquess of Berkhamstead, Earl of Kennington, Viscount Trematon, Baron of the Isle of Alderney, Knight of the most Noble Order of the Gar...
British Honours 1. KG: Knight of the Garter, 1730 2. KB: Knight of the Bath, 1725 3. PC: Privy Counsellor, 1742 Academic 1. 1751-1765: Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin
On 20 July 1725, as a grandchild of the sovereign, William was granted use of the arms of the realm, differenced by a label argent of five points, the centre point bearing a cross gules, the first, second, fourth and fifth each bearing a canton gules. On 30 August 1727, as a child of the sovereign, William's difference changed to a label argent of three points, the centre point bearing a cross gules.
Prince William County, Virginia is named for him, as well as Cumberland County, Maine. Various other places in the American colonies were named after him, including the Cumberland River, the Cumberland Gap and the Cumberland Mountains. In 2005 he was selected by the BBC History Magazineas the 18th century's worst Briton. There is a memorial Obelisk to the Duke's military services in Windsor Great park. It is inscribed "THIS OBELISK RAISED BY COMMAND OF KING GEORGE THE SECOND COMMEMORATES THE SERVICES OF HIS SON WILLIAM DUKE OF CUMBERLAND THE SUCCESS OF HIS ARMS AND THE GRATITUDE OF HIS FATHER THIS TABLET WAS INSCRIBED BY HIS MAJESTY KING WILLIAM THE FOURTH". According to a local park guide, the Obelisk was originally inscribed "Culloden" but Queen Victoriahad "Culloden" removed. An equestrian statue of the Duke was erected in London's Cavendish Squarein 1770, but was removed in 1868 since by that time the 'butcher of Culloden' was generally reviled. The original plinth remained.Anderson, Fred (2000). Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-20535-6.Bellesiles, Michael (2003). Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. Soft Skull Press. ISBN 978-1-932360-07-3.Browning, Reed (1995). The War of the Austrian Succession. Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 978-0-312-12561-5.Clee, Nicholas (2011). Eclipse. Black Swan. ISBN 978-0-552-77442-0.
- Joining The Army
- Army Commander
- The Forty-Five
- A Return to The Continent
- The Seven Years' War
- Later Life
- Selected Sources
Though enrolled with the 2nd Foot Guards at age four, his father desired that he be groomed for the post of Lord High Admiral. Going to sea in 1740, Cumberland sailed as a volunteer with Admiral Sir John Norris during the early years of the War of the Austrian Succession. Not finding the Royal Navy to his liking, he came ashore in 1742 and was permitted to pursue a career with the British Army. Made a major general, Cumberland traveled to the Continent the following year and served under his father at the Battle of Dettingen.
In the course of the fighting, he was hit in the leg and the injury would trouble him for the remainder of his life. Promoted to lieutenant general after the battle, he was made captain-general of British forces in Flanders a year later. Though inexperienced, Cumberland was given command of the Allied army and began planning a campaign to capture Paris. To aid him, Lord Ligonier, an able commander, was made his advisor. A veteran of Blenheimand Ramillies, Ligonier recognized the impracticality of Cumberland's plans and correctly advised him to remain on the defensive. As French forces under Marshal Maurice de Saxe began moving against Tournai, Cumberland advanced to aid the town's garrison. Clashing with the French at the Battle of Fontenoy on May 11, Cumberland was defeated. Though his forces mounted a strong attack on Saxe's center, his failure to secure nearby woods led to him having to withdraw. Unable to save Ghent, Bruges, and Ostend, Cumberland retreated back to Brussels. Des...
Also known as "The Forty-Five," the Jacobite Rising was inspired by the return of Charles Edward Stuart to Scotland. The grandson of the deposed James II, "Bonnie Prince Charlie" raised an army largely composed of the Highland clans and marched on Edinburgh. Taking the city, he defeated a government force at Prestonpans on September 21 before embarking on an invasion of England. Returning to Britain late in October, Cumberland began moving north to intercept the Jacobites. After advancing as far as Derby, the Jacobites elected to retreat back to Scotland. Pursuing Charles' army, the lead elements of Cumberland's forces skirmished with the Jacobites at Clifton Moor on December 18. Moving north, he arrived at Carlisle and forced the Jacobite garrison to surrender on December 30 after nine-day siege. After briefly traveling to London, Cumberland returned north after Lieutenant General Henry Hawley was beaten at Falkirk on January 17, 1746. Named commander of forces in Scotland, he reac...
With matters in Scotland settled, Cumberland resumed command of the Allied army in Flanders in 1747. During this period, a young Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Amherstserved as his aide. On July 2 near Lauffeld, Cumberland again clashed with Saxe with similar results to their earlier encounter. Beaten, he withdrew from the area. Cumberland's defeat, along with the loss of Bergen-op-Zoom led both sides to make peace the following year via the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Over the next decade, Cumberland worked to improve the army, but suffered from decreasing popularity.
With the beginning of the Seven Years' Warin 1756, Cumberland returned to field command. Directed by his father to lead the Army of Observation on the Continent, he was tasked with defending the family's home territory of Hanover. Taking command in 1757, he met French forces at the Battle of Hastenbeck on July 26. Badly outnumbered, his army was overwhelmed and compelled to retreat to Stade. Hemmed in by superior French forces, Cumberland was authorized by George II to make a separate peace for Hanover. As a result, he concluded the Convention of Klosterzeven on September 8. The terms of the convention called for the demobilization of Cumberland's army and a partial French occupation of Hanover. Returning home, Cumberland was severely criticized for his defeat and the terms of the convention as it exposed the western flank of Britain's ally, Prussia. Publically reprimanded by George II, despite the king's authorization of a separate peace, Cumberland elected to resign his military a...
Retiring to Cumberland Lodge in Windsor, Cumberland largely avoided public life. In 1760, George II died and his grandson, the young George III, became king. During this period, Cumberland battled with his sister-in-law, the Dowager Princess of Wales, over the role of regent during times of trouble. An opponent of the Earl of Bute and George Grenville, he worked restore William Pitt to power as prime minister in 1765. These efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful. On October 31, 1765, Cumberland suddenly died from an apparent heart attack while in London. Troubled by his wound from Dettingen, he had grown obese and had suffered a stroke in 1760. The Duke of Cumberland was buried beneath the floor in the Henry VII Lady Chapel of Westminster Abbey.
Duke of Cumberland Died: 31t October 1765 at Upper Grosvenor Street, Westminster, Middlesex. The Duke of Cumberland, second surviving son of King George II and Queen Caroline, was born at Leicester House at Charing, near London. He spent much of his youth at Midgham House in Berkshire, with his tutor, Stephen Poyntz. At first, Prince William ...
- Early Life
- War of The Austrian Succession
- Jacobite and Battle of Culloden
- Butcher Cumberland
- The Seven Years’ War
- Later Years of Cumberland
Prince William Augustus, third and youngest son of King George II of Great Britain and Queen Caroline was born on 15 April 1721 at Leicester House at Charing near London. Much of his youth was spent with his tutor Stephen Poyntz at Midgham House in Berkshire. He was educated in naval career, but his interest was more towards army. On 17th July 1726 he was created Marquess of Berkhamsted, Earl of Kennington, Duke of Cumberland, Baron of the isle of Alderney and Viscount of Trematon. He was educated under a tutor appointed by his mother Edmond Halley. He became a Major General in army at the age of 21 in 1742. In the following year on 27 June 1743 he rendered active service in the middle east and fought the Battle of Dettingen in Germany with his father. William was wounded with a musket of a ball in the leg and was promoted to Lieutenant General after the battle.
On October 1740 Charles IV the Holy Roman emperor and the head of the Austrian branch of the House of Hasburg died and succeeded his daughter Maria Theresa. William Cumberland was made Captain General of the British Land forces in 1745. At the age of 24 in 1745, despite of not having any experience he was made Commander-in-Chief of the allied British, Hanoverian, Austrian and Dutch troops. He planned to go offensive against the French but later realized that given the superiority of enemy in number it was impossible to take Tournai, hence they faced severe defeat against French in the Battle of Fontenoy by France’s Marshal Maurice De Saxe.
Prince Charles Edward Stuart grandson of King James II led the Jacobite army and overrun Scotland and had defeated Government forces at Prestopans under General Sir John Cope. William was called back from the War of the Austrian Succession from Flanders to England to oppose Jacobite invasion. His appointment caused a morale lift among the public and the troops. He chased the Jacobite army to Scottish border and returned to safeguard the south coast of England from the attacks of the French. He left the pursuit to Lieutenant General Hawley. On 17 January 1746 General Hawley was defeated by the Jacobites at the Battle of Falkirk Muir. Cumberland arrived in Edinburgh on 30 January and immediately began his pursuit of the Jacobite army. William made sure that his troops in Aberdeen were trained in specific tactics he had developed to withstand the highland charge to hold firing to inflict maximum damage until the Jacobites were within good range of firing. On 8 April 1746 William set ou...
Following Culloden, his Whig supporters nicknamed him “Sweet William” for the success at defeating the Jacobite army. Sweet William is also a name of a plant named for William Augustus. Cumberland displayed the strictest discipline in his camp. He was firm and unbiased in the execution of his duty. He was nicknamed Butcher Cumberland for the brutality towards Highland. He was given the freedom of the City of the Glasgow and was made the Chancellor of both Aberdeen and St Andrews universities. Cumberland was honoured with special performance of Handel’s oratorio’s Judas Maccabaeus on thanksgiving service in London in St Paul’s Cathedral church which was composed especially for Cumberland and included a special anthem ‘See the conquering hero comes’.
Cumberland returned to the command field at the beginning of the seven years’ war in 1756. William was defending his family’s home territory of Hanover directed by his father to lead the Army of Observation on the continent from French invasion. He took command in 1757 and met French forces at the Battle of Hastenbeck on 26 July and was defeated by d’Estrees. Cumberland’s army’s discipline collapsed within short time and headed northwards in total disorder. Cumberland hoped that the Royal Navy would possibly bring him reinforcements and supplies which would help him to regroup and counterattack, instead the British mounted an expedition Rochefort. Cumberland and his forces were compelled to retreat to the fortified town of the Stade on the North Sea coast. George II authorized Cumberland to make a separate peace for Hanover. On September 8 1757 Cumberland agreed to the Convention of Klosterzeven and it concluded on the demobilization of Cumberland’s army and a much of Hanover occupi...
Cumberland largely avoided public and retired to Cumberland Lodge in Windsor. After the death of King George II in 1760 his grandson the young George III became king. His final years were lived out at the reign of his nephew. Cumberland became an advisor to the king and was instrumental in establishing First Rockingham Ministry. Cumberland never completely recovered from his wound at Dettingen and had grown obese and suffered from a stroke on August 1760. At the age of 44, on 31 October 1765 he apparently died from a heart attack at his home on upper Grosvenor street in London. The Duke of Cumberland was buried in Westminster Abbey beneath the floor of the nave of the Henry VII of the Lady Chapel.
William Augustus, duke of Cumberland, British general, nicknamed “Butcher Cumberland” for his harsh suppression of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. His subsequent military failures led to his estrangement from his father, King George II (reigned 1727–60).
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