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10 Worst Britons


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 10:48 PM

Jon di Paolo
Tuesday December 27, 2005
The Guardian

http://education.gua...1674067,00.html

Britain's biggest cads, rogues and evil-doers from the past 1,000 years have been given special recognition by historians. Academics have put together a list of 10 rogues whose deeds and behaviour they feel sets them apart as the worst of the worst. Kings, politicians, archbishops and mass murderers all feature in the run-down, which sees one villain nominated for each of the past 10 centuries.

The vilest character of the 20th century was said to be Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists. Professor Joanna Bourke of Birkbeck College, London, said Mosley still had a "pernicious impact" on British society as an inspiration for far-right groups. "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'," she said.

Jack the Ripper got the vote as the 19th century's worst rogue, although his real identity is still unknown. He is believed to have murdered at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in the second half of 1888. Others on the list, which was compiled for BBC History Magazine, included King John and two archbishops of Canterbury.

Marc Morris, writer and presenter of Castle on Channel 4, described King John, who died in 1216, as "one of the worst kings in English history. John committed some wicked deeds and was a deeply unpleasant person. He was untrusting, he would snigger at people while they talked and couldn't resist kicking a man when he was down."

Top of the list for the 18th century was the Duke of Cumberland, nicknamed "Butcher" after his merciless defeat of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, and his Highlanders at Culloden in April 1746.

One archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, who was made a saint, was nominated by Professor John Hudson of St Andrews University as the worst villain of the 12th 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 putting the list together had been a challenging task. "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."

The villains: Bad characters through the centuries

1900-2000 Oswald Mosley

Mosley served as an MP for first the Conservatives and then Labour before leaving mainstream politics to found the British Union of Fascists in 1932. Four years later he married his second wife at the home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, with Hitler reportedly among the guests.

1800-1900 Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper was the name given to a killer believed to be responsible for the murders of at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in 1888. Despite a huge effort by the Met, the Ripper was never caught, and his identity is still shrouded in mystery.

1700-1800 Duke of Cumberland

Prince William, son of King George II, was brutal in quelling the Jacobite rising of 1746. The "no quarter" manner way in which he dealt with the Highlanders who fought for the Young Pretender - Bonnie Prince Charlie - at Culloden earned the Duke of Cumberland the nickname "Butcher".

1600-1700 Titus Oates

In 1678 Oates concocted a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocents being put to death. He was jailed for perjury.

1500-1600 Sir Richard Rich

Throughout his life Rich shifted his political and religious allegiances to further his career. During the reign of Henry VIII he gave evidence against Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher which helped to convict them of treason, for which they were executed.

1400-1500 Thomas Arundel

Arundel served as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death. He used his authority to persecute the Lollards, a group promoting a lay priesthood and translations of the Bible.

1300-1400 Hugh Despenser

Despenser became one of the richest men in the kingdom by eliminating his enemies and greedily seizing land in south Wales. He was eventually executed as a traitor.

1200-1300 King John

John captured and apparently murdered his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, who was his rival for the throne after the death of Richard the Lionheart. His misdeeds included hanging 28 sons of rebel Welsh chieftains he had been holding hostage, and starving an enemy's wife and son to death in prison.

1100-1200 Thomas Becket

Becket divided England by quarrelling with King Henry II about the rights of the church. He was assassinated by four knights from Henry's court in Canterbury Cathedral.

1000-1100 Eadric Streona

King Aethelred II's chief counsellor, Streona betrayed his country by switching sides when the Danish king Cnut invaded England in 1015. He was later executed by Cnut.

#2 Ed Waller

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Posted 09 January 2006 - 11:48 PM

Lordy lordy... it would be difficult to pick a more anodine bunch of wrong-doers. Where in the list is Thatcher of greater significance in the 20th Century than O M.

Jack the Ripper??? Responsible for so few deaths he hardly warrants a mention, even if it is an intriguing (set of) case(s). I'd much rather see Major Trafford or Colonel L'Estrange to name but two contenders, and that before even thinking about factory or mine owners and their 'safety' records.

I could go on, but it's clear that in the BBC list only certain kinds of 'evil' count. :D

#3 Patrick McMahon

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 12:14 AM

Jon di Paolo
Tuesday December 27, 2005
The Guardian

http://education.gua...1674067,00.html

Britain's biggest cads, rogues and evil-doers from the past 1,000 years have been given special recognition by historians. Academics have put together a list of 10 rogues whose deeds and behaviour they feel sets them apart as the worst of the worst. Kings, politicians, archbishops and mass murderers all feature in the run-down, which sees one villain nominated for each of the past 10 centuries.

The vilest character of the 20th century was said to be Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists. Professor Joanna Bourke of Birkbeck College, London, said Mosley still had a "pernicious impact" on British society as an inspiration for far-right groups. "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'," she said.

Jack the Ripper got the vote as the 19th century's worst rogue, although his real identity is still unknown. He is believed to have murdered at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in the second half of 1888. Others on the list, which was compiled for BBC History Magazine, included King John and two archbishops of Canterbury.

Marc Morris, writer and presenter of Castle on Channel 4, described King John, who died in 1216, as "one of the worst kings in English history. John committed some wicked deeds and was a deeply unpleasant person. He was untrusting, he would snigger at people while they talked and couldn't resist kicking a man when he was down."

Top of the list for the 18th century was the Duke of Cumberland, nicknamed "Butcher" after his merciless defeat of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, and his Highlanders at Culloden in April 1746.

One archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, who was made a saint, was nominated by Professor John Hudson of St Andrews University as the worst villain of the 12th 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 putting the list together had been a challenging task. "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."

The villains: Bad characters through the centuries

1900-2000 Oswald Mosley

Mosley served as an MP for first the Conservatives and then Labour before leaving mainstream politics to found the British Union of Fascists in 1932. Four years later he married his second wife at the home of Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, with Hitler reportedly among the guests.

1800-1900 Jack the Ripper

Jack the Ripper was the name given to a killer believed to be responsible for the murders of at least four prostitutes in Whitechapel, east London, in 1888. Despite a huge effort by the Met, the Ripper was never caught, and his identity is still shrouded in mystery.

1700-1800 Duke of Cumberland

Prince William, son of King George II, was brutal in quelling the Jacobite rising of 1746. The "no quarter" manner way in which he dealt with the Highlanders who fought for the Young Pretender - Bonnie Prince Charlie - at Culloden earned the Duke of Cumberland the nickname "Butcher".

1600-1700 Titus Oates

In 1678 Oates concocted a story about a Catholic plot to murder King Charles II which led to scores of people being rounded up and several innocents being put to death. He was jailed for perjury.

1500-1600 Sir Richard Rich

Throughout his life Rich shifted his political and religious allegiances to further his career. During the reign of Henry VIII he gave evidence against Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher which helped to convict them of treason, for which they were executed.

1400-1500 Thomas Arundel

Arundel served as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1397 and from 1399 until his death. He used his authority to persecute the Lollards, a group promoting a lay priesthood and translations of the Bible.

1300-1400 Hugh Despenser

Despenser became one of the richest men in the kingdom by eliminating his enemies and greedily seizing land in south Wales. He was eventually executed as a traitor.

1200-1300 King John

John captured and apparently murdered his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, who was his rival for the throne after the death of Richard the Lionheart. His misdeeds included hanging 28 sons of rebel Welsh chieftains he had been holding hostage, and starving an enemy's wife and son to death in prison.

1100-1200 Thomas Becket

Becket divided England by quarrelling with King Henry II about the rights of the church. He was assassinated by four knights from Henry's court in Canterbury Cathedral.

1000-1100 Eadric Streona

King Aethelred II's chief counsellor, Streona betrayed his country by switching sides when the Danish king Cnut invaded England in 1015. He was later executed by Cnut.



#4 Patrick McMahon

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Posted 12 January 2006 - 12:25 AM

Lordy lordy... it would be difficult to pick a more anodine bunch of wrong-doers. Where in the list is Thatcher of greater significance in the 20th Century than O M.

Jack the Ripper??? Responsible for so few deaths he hardly warrants a mention, even if it is an intriguing (set of) case(s). I'd much rather see Major Trafford or Colonel L'Estrange to name but two contenders, and that before even thinking about factory or mine owners and their 'safety' records.

I could go on, but it's clear that in the BBC list only certain kinds of 'evil' count. :rant


Reply:
The worst? or the 'popular worst'?
Our impression of the good and the bad is based on the received evidence and the current interpretations applied to that evidence, which, as Elton (whether you approve or not) noted had the good fortune to survive: survive? a few careful selections and disposals may easily influence future opinions. For my own input, Henry VIII was the worst - for personal, selfish reasons, he altered the structure, administration and societal stability of the 'nation'.

#5 John Simkin

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 05:17 PM

In my opinion one of the worst Britons was a man called Horatio Bottomley. He was a Liberal Party MP who was forced to resign after being declared bankrupt in 1912 (in fact he should have gone to prison for corruption).

On the outbreak of the First World War, Bottomley told his personal assistant, Henry J. Houston: "Houston, this war is my opportunity. Whatever I have been in the past, and whatever my faults, I am going to draw a line at August 4th, 1914, and start afresh. I shall play the game, cut all my old associates, and wipe out everything pre-1914" Houston later recalled: "At the time I thought he meant it, but but now I know that the flesh, habituated to luxury and self-indulgence, was too weak to give effect to the resolution. For a while he did try to shake off his old associates, but the claws of the past had him grappled in steel, and the effort did not last more than a few weeks."

In September 1914, the first recruiting meetings were held in London. The first meetings were addressed by government ministers. Bottomley told Houston: "These professional politicians don't understand the business. I am going to constitute myself the Unofficial Recruiting Agent to the British Empire. We must have a big meeting." His first meeting at the Albert Hall was so popular that according to Houston, Bottomley "was unable for two hours to get into his own meeting."

Bottomley wrote to Herbert Henry Asquith about the possibility of becoming Director of Recruiting. Asquith replied: "Thank you for your offer but I shall not avail myself of it at the moment. You are doing better work where you are." Asquith, aware of his popularity, encouraged him to do this work in an unofficial capacity. It has been claimed at the time that he was paid between £50 and £100 to address meetings where he encouraged young men to join the armed forces. Henry J. Houston claimed that he spoke at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, and delivered a ten minutes' speech each night for a week at a fee of £600. Later, Bottomley "secured a week's engagement, two houses nightly, at the Glasgow Pavilion, where he received a fee of £1,000."

It has been calculated that Bottomley addressed twenty recruiting meetings and 340 "patriotic war lectures". Although he had been highly critical of the government, at the meetings he always stated: "When the country is at war, it is the duty of every patriot to say: My country right or wrong; My government good or bad." He also falsely claimed that he was "not going to take money for sending men out to their death, or profit from his country in its hour of need." Bottomley claimed that he used the meetings to publicise John Bull Magazine and according to Houston, he drew over £22,000 from the journal for his efforts.

At one meeting a man in the audience shouted out: "Isn't it time you went and did your bit, Mr. Bottomley?" Bottomley replied: "Would to God it were my privilege to shoulder a rifle and take my place beside the brave boys in the trenches. But you have only to look at me to see that I am suffering from two complaints. My medical man calls them anno domini and embonpoint. The first means that I was born too soon and the second that my chest measurement has got into the wrong place."

To persuade young men to join the armed forces he gave the impression that the war would be over in a few weeks. In a speech at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens in September, 1915, he argued: "Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to pull yourselves together and keep your peckers up. I want to assure you that within six weeks of to-day we shall have the Huns on the run. We shall drive them out of France, out of Flanders, out of Belgium, across the Rhine, and back into their own territory. There we shall give them a taste of their own medicine. Bear in mind, I speak of that which I know. Tomorrow it will be officially denied, but take it from me that if Bottomley says so, it is so!"

Houston argued in his book, The Real Horatio Bottomley (1923): "He began to accept what were practically music hall engagements disguised as recruiting meetings, and I was very definitely of the opinion that he was drifting in the wrong direction. Nevertheless for some time it went on... Bottomley insisted that a substantial contribution (from the income generated from the meetings) went to his War Charity Fund... Three years later I discovered that the fund did not receive a penny of the money."

In one speech Bottomley argued: "Every hero of the war who has fallen in the field of battle has performed an Act of Greatest Love, so penetrating and intense in its purifying character that I do not hesitate to express my opinion that any and every past sin is automatically wiped out from the record of his life." George Bernard Shaw went to one of Bottomley's meetings and afterwards commented: "It's exactly what I expected: the man gets his popularity by telling people with sufficient bombast just what they think themselves and therefore want to hear."

Bottomley argued in the John Bull Magazine that Ramsay MacDonald and James Keir Hardie, were the leaders of a "pro-German Campaign". On 19th June 1915 the magazine claimed that MacDonald was a traitor and that: "We demand his trial by Court Martial, his condemnation as an aider and abetter of the King's enemies, and that he be taken to the Tower and shot at dawn."

On 4th September, 1915, the magazine published an article which made an attack on his background. "We have remained silent with regard to certain facts which have been in our possession for a long time. First of all, we knew that this man was living under an adopted name - and that he was registered as James MacDonald Ramsay - and that, therefore, he had obtained admission to the House of Commons in false colours, and was probably liable to heavy penalties to have his election declared void. But to have disclosed this state of things would have imposed upon us a very painful and unsavoury duty. We should have been compelled to produce the man's birth certificate. And that would have revealed what today we are justified in revealing - for the reason we will state in a moment... it would have revealed him as the illegitimate son of a Scotch servant girl!"

In his diary, Ramsay MacDonald recorded his reaction to the article. "On the day when the paper with the attack was published, I was travelling from Lossiemouth to London in the company as far as Edinburgh with the Dowager Countess De La Warr, Lady Margaret Sackville and their maid... I saw the maid had John Bull in her hand. Sitting in the train, I took it from her and read the disgusting article. From Aberdeen to Edinburgh, I spent hours of the most terrible mental pain.... Never before did I know that I had been registered under the name of Ramsay, and cannot understand it now. From my earliest years my name has been entered upon lists, like the school register, etc. as MacDonald. My mother must have made a simple blunder or the registrar must have made a clerical error."

MacDonald received many letters of support, including this one: "For your villainy and treason you ought to be shot and I would gladly do my country service by shooting you. I hate you and your vile opinions - as much as Bottomley does. But the assault he made on you last week was the meanest, rottenest lowdown dog's dirty action that ever disgraced journalism."

A.J.P. Taylor claimed that Bottomley made £78,000 from his "recruiting" and "patriotic" meetings. He used this money to pay off his debts and in the 1918 General Election he was returned as the independent MP for Hackney South. Soon afterwards stories began circulating about Bottomley's corrupt activities. This included his highly successful Victory Bond Club that he ran via The John Bull Magazine. This scheme involved buying government Victory Bonds. It was claimed that he had corruptedly obtained over £900,000 in this way.

In March 1922 he was charged with fraud. Tried before Mr Justice Salter at the Old Bailey, Bottomley was found guilty on twenty-three out of twenty-four counts and sentenced to seven years' penal servitude. His legal appeal was rejected and he was expelled from the House of Commons. He was released from Maidstone Prison in July 1927 after serving five years.

http://www.spartacus...WWbottomley.htm

#6 John Simkin

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 12:44 PM

What about Lord Palmerston?
http://www.schilleri...b_1994_hgl.html

I hate to sound like an iconoclast (and I am not a LaRouchie like at least some of the
speakers at this conference), but Pam certainly had a greater negative impact on the
world than the Duke of Cumberland (who?).


In terms of domestic policy, Lord Liverpool was far worse than Lord Palmerston.

http://www.spartacus...PRliverpool.htm

http://www.spartacus...Rpalmerston.htm

#7 Norman Pratt

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Posted 27 January 2012 - 01:18 AM

I'm pleased to see the jury's still out on King John. http://www.historyto.../good-king-john



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