Roy’s Roadss

The road-network from William Roy’s Military Survey of Scotland. 1747

William Duke of Cumberland 1721-1765



The second son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach. A soldier by profession, and on balance, not a very good one. He fought in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), becoming commander of the allied forces in 1745. He was defeated severely by France's Marshal Maurice de Saxe at the Battle of Fontenoy in May 1745. 


Later in the same year his father recalled him to England because of the Jacobite emergency. Forces under Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, grandson of the deposed king James II were marching on London. They reached as far as Derby before retreating.  Cumberland's army defeated the Highlander forces at the Battle of Culloden Moor in Inverness on 16 April 1746. About 1,000 Scots died and many more were murdered by Hanovarian troops in the immediate aftermath. A period of severe suppression of Highland clan culture was to follow. 

Cumberland was not a very effective military commander. He subsequently returned to the European theatre of war and in July 1747 he lost the Battle of Langfeld. During the Seven Years' War (1756-63) he was defeated by the French at the Battle of Hastenbeck in 1757.  These defeats compounded the military disappointments of his early military career . Culloden was his only success. One has to speculate on how much he had relied, there, on his senior staff officers for guidance. He is often portrayed, at Culloden, as an embittered reactionary old general: in fact he was only 24 years old at that time.

Last updated Nov.2020