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Butcher Cumberland among Britain's greatest villains MOST HATED OF THE LAST MILLENNIUM

FOR centuries his name has been a byword for wickedness and brutality among Scots, but now the Duke of Cumberland's villainy is finally being recognised beyond the Tweed.

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Once hailed as a hero and saviour of the Union in England, he is now listed alongside the likes of Jack the Ripper and Oswald Mosley as one of the 10 most hated Britons of the last millennium.

Known by generations of Scots simply as the Butcher, the notorious Cumberland has been named the worst Briton of the eighteenth century in a BBC poll of historians.

Hatred for Cumberland is universal in Scotland and the passing of 250 years has done little to dilute the memory of the indiscriminate slaughter of Highlanders he presided over in the aftermath of Culloden. The treatment meted out to fleeing Jacobites cemented his position as the most despised figure in Scottish history.

In stark contrast to attitudes in Scotland, Cumberland's brutal attitude in suppressing the Jacobite rebellion won him acclaim in the England of his time.

Nevertheless, in new a poll conducted for BBC History Magazine, the depravity of Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, is finally acknowledged. Leading historians were asked to create a list of the ten worst Britons of the last 1000 years.

Asked to choose one historical rogue from each century of the last millennium, the academics nominated villains such as Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, Jack the Ripper and King John.

Cumberland was selected as the worst Briton of the eighteenth century by Professor Rab Houston, chairman of modern history at St Andrews University.

He wrote: "He showed a particular disdain for the defeated Jacobites after Culloden in 1746. Thus, fleeing soldiers were pursued and slaughtered while the wounded could expect no help except to be shot, bayoneted or clubbed to death.

"At a time when the etiquette of warfare was considered very important, Cumberland was able to dispense with it by labelling the Highlanders inhuman savages."

Professor Houston said that the brutish way in which Cumberland went about dismantling Highland culture by disarming the clans, banning the wearing of Highland dress, suppressing certain surnames and the use of the Gaelic language amounted to an early example of ethnic cleansing. He said Cumberland "destroyed the social nexus of the clan that was at the heart of Highland society".

Britain's biggest villain of the twentieth century, Oswald Mosley, "continues to have a pernicious impact on our society", claimed Professor Joanna Bourke of Birckbeck College, London. She nominated Mosley and said his legacy still endures as an inspiration for far-right groups in Britain.

She explained: "On his death in 1980, his son Nicholas concluded that his father was a man whose 'right hand dealt with grandiose ideas and glory' while his left hand 'let the rat out of the sewer'."

Marc Morris, writer and presenter of Castle on Channel 4, said King John, who died in 1216, was "clearly one of the worst kings in English history" and nominated him as the thirteenth century's worst Briton.

Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, was nominated by Professor John Hudson, of St Andrews University, as the villain of the twelfth century.

He said: "He divided England in a way that even many churchmen who shared some of his views thought unnecessary and self-indulgent.

"He was a founder of gesture politics. He was also greedy.

Those who share my prejudice against Becket may consider his assassination in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170, a fittingly grisly end."

Dave Musgrove, editor of BBC History Magazine, said: "How do you decide on the worst Briton? It's not an easy choice: is it the person who murdered the most citizens or the one who led the country into the most desperate straits of poverty or war, or perhaps just he who trod most unscrupulously on those around him?

"We left the criteria up to the 10 historians we spoke to, and it's their definitions of wickedness that give us such a diverse selection of figures on our list of evilness."

Curiously, no woman appears on the list of villains.

1000-1100 Eadric Streona (died 1017) King Aethelred II's chief counsellor betrayed his country by switching sides when the Danish king Cnut invaded England in 1015.

1100-1200 Thomas Becket (1120-1170) Archbishop of Canterbury, divided England by quarrelling with King Henry II over the rights of the church. He was assassinated by four knights from Henry's court in Canterbury Cathedral.

1200-1300 King John, below left (1167-1216) Captured and apparently murdered his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, who was his rival for the throne after the death of Richard the Lionheart in 1199.

1300-1400 Hugh Despenser (the younger) (died 1326) Became one of the richest men in the kingdom by ruthlessly eliminating his enemies and greedily seizing land in South Wales. He was executed as a traitor.

1400-1500 Thomas Arundel (1353 -1414) Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death, persecuted the Lollards, a group calling for reform of the Catholic Church by promoting a lay priesthood and translations of the Bible.

1500-1600 Sir Richard Rich, Lord Rich of Leighs (1496/7-1567) Throughout his life shifted his political and religious allegiances to further his career. During Henry VIII's reign he gave evidence against both Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher which helped to convict them of treason, for which they were executed.

1600-1700 Titus Oates, left (1649-1705) In 1678 made up a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocent men being executed. He was later convicted of perjury and jailed.

1700-1800 Prince William Augustus (1721-1765) Duke of Cumberland, a younger son of King George II, was given the nickname Butcher for the merciless manner in which he defeated the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746 to quell the Jacobite Rising of 1745-1746.

1800-1900 Jack the Ripper Jack the Ripper was the name given to a serial killer believed to be responsible for the murders of at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, East London, in the second half of 1888. His identity has never been established.

1900-2000 Oswald Mosley, left (1896-1980) Was elected as an MP for first the Tories, then Labour, before becoming disillusioned with mainstream politics and founding the British Union of Fascists in 1932.

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