IN this week 275 years ago, Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, had his army carry out his orders that no quarter be given to the survivors of the Battle of Culloden.

Cumberland had used the excuse that Prince Charles Edward Stuart had given a “no quarter” order to his army. According to Lord Balmerino, who was executed for his leading part in the Rising, no such order was ever given.

A written version supposedly made by Jacobite commander Lord George Murray was a doctored forgery, no doubt to deflect criticism, and no matter his “excuse” there is no doubt that Cumberland ordered that wounded Jacobites on the field at Drumossie Moor were to be killed and their bodies left to rot.

When people from Inverness came to see the battlefield strewn with bodies, it was noted that at least 22 of the dead clansmen were seen to have been killed by multiple blows to the head – they had been clubbed to death, unable to resist because of their earlier wounds.

All around Inverness, men were murdered just for wearing Highland dress. In a campaign of terror launched as soon as the battle was over, men were tortured and executed, women were raped and killed and children slaughtered as Cumberland’s government troops, including many Scots, roamed far and wide seeking the fleeing Bonnie Prince.

Butcher Cumberland was well named, yet on April 21, 1746, five days after the Battle of Culloden, the Town Council of Glasgow became the first municipality to confer the Freedom of the City on Cumberland. They were followed by Edinburgh and Dundee, even as Cumberland was presiding over a campaign of genocide in the Highlands and Islands. He could have gone south to a no-doubt rapturous reception in London, but stayed for three months to personally supervise the genocide and then left orders to his officers and men who were only too happy to carry out his butchery.

There is a simple explanation for Glasgow’s civic actions – to them, he was the good guy and Charles wasn’t bonnie but a baddie. It was a Whig town, loyal to the House of Hanover and opposed to Jacobitism, and was doing very well out of the Union with millions of pounds of tobacco being landed on the Clyde and treated for export across the UK and Europe.

At the turn of the year, Glaswegians had also experienced a week-long occupation by Charles and the Jacobite army and had been none too impressed, not least because the Prince demanded £15,000 and fresh clothing for his men – he got £5500 and a lot of shirts.

Robert Renwick and Sir John Lindsay’s History of Glasgow recorded what happened.

“The Prince himself, during the week he spent in Glasgow, lodged in the Shawfield Mansion at the West Port, then the residence of Colonel Macdowall, the West India sugar magnate. During his stay, in order to gain the favour of the citizens, it is said he ate twice a day in public view at the house. His dress was usually of fine silk tartan, with crimson velvet breeches, but sometimes he wore an English court coat, with the ribbon, star, and other insignia of the Order of the Garter. Quite obviously, however, his cause was not popular in the city.”

According to three-times Lord Provost Andrew Cochrane, Charles himself was not as popular with the ladies as he had been in Edinburgh, though it was in Glasgow that he first met his future mistress Clementina Walkinshaw. He also apparently had time enough to father a child who grew up to be a Kirk minister.

Cochrane wrote: “He appeared four times publicly in our streets, without acclamations or one huzza; no ringing of bells or smallest respect or acknowledgment paid him by the meanest inhabitant. Our very ladies had not the curiosity to go near him, and declined going to a ball held by his chiefs.”

Glasgow militia had been the reserves for the government army at the Battle of Falkirk Muir, so it is no surprise that the city was in raptures when news came through of Cumberland’s victory over the Jacobites at Culloden.

As Renwick and Lindsay found in excerpts from the records of the Town Council: “The event was duly ‘solemnized’ with a cake and wine banquet by the city fathers on 21st April, and a deputation was sent to Inverness to congratulate the Duke of Cumberland, who was presented with the freedom of the city in a gold box.”

In June, Glasgow University was among the first educational establishments to confer an honorary doctorate on the man who by then was still only 25 – Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities would later make him Chancellor.

The Glasgow citation read: “Who, by the blessing of God, has put an end to the unnatural and wicked Rebellion that threatened destruction to all our Religious and Civil Rights and Liberties … the Rector Principal Professor of Divinity and Professor of Law are appointed to wait upon his Royal Highness when he comes South, and present the diploma with the Universities compliments to him”.

Cumberland had overnight become the most popular man in lowland Scotland. It was only when the Tories in England learned of the aftermath of Culloden that he was nicknamed the Butcher – an English invention and one that stuck. The Scottish public later passed their verdict when a type of foul-smelling ragwort was called Stinking Billy.

Given the proven fact that Cumberland was a genocidal maniac, why have Glasgow Council and University never rescinded his honours? The SNP council should at least propose removing his Freedom – imagine the Unionists having to defend that motion…