William Augustus duke of Cumberland

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Cumberland, William Augustus, 1st duke of (1721–65). Cumberland was the second surviving son of the prince of Wales, later George II. Made duke of Cumberland in 1726, he was promoted lieutenant-general in 1744, after fighting at Dettingen. In 1745 he was proclaimed captain-general of the British army. Shortly afterwards, Marshal Saxe repulsed his attempt to relieve Tournay at Fontenoy. Recalled in October to deal with the Jacobite rebellion, he finally crushed it at Culloden in April 1746. His devastation of the central Highlands was ruthless, but provoked by a refusal to accept terms.

His Anglo-Dutch army back in Flanders was usually outnumbered by that of Saxe, and ill-provided. Mere competence could not bring victory. After the peace of 1748, his stress on disciplinary measures in the army made him unpopular. At the start of the Seven Years War, he virtually ran the British war effort but was destroyed by defeat against superior French armies in Hanover. The convention of Kloster-Zeven, which he signed with the French, was repudiated. He retired from the army, but remained a powerful political influence into the early years of George III. Obese and unmarried, he died unexpectedly of a clot on the brain.

Bruce Philip Lenman

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William Augustus Cumberland, duke of, 1721–65, British general; third son of George II. Entering the army shortly before the outbreak (1740) of the War of the Austrian Succession, he was defeated by the French at Fontenoy (1745). Returning to England to put down the 1745 rising of the Jacobites, he defeated Prince Charles Edward Stuart at Culloden Moor (1746) and earned the nickname "the Butcher" by his ruthless punishment of the rebels. Once more on the Continent, he averted the fall of Maastricht but was again defeated by the French in 1747. In the Seven Years War he signed (1757) a capitulation to the French (the Convention of Kloster-Zeven) for which he was dismissed.

See two biographical studies by E. Charteris (1913, 1925).