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Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury
Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC (22 July 1621 – 21 January 1683), known as Anthony Ashley Cooper from 1621 to 1630, as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Baronet from 1630 to 1661, and as The Lord Ashley from 1661 to 1672, was a prominent English politician during the Interregnum and the reign of King Charles II. A founder of the Whig party, he was also the patron of John Locke.
Cooper was born in 1621. Having lost his parents by the age of eight, he was raised by Edward Tooker and other guardians named in his father's will, before attending Exeter College, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn. He married the daughter of Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry in 1639; that patronage secured his first seat in the Short Parliament. He soon lost a disputed election to the Long Parliament. During the English Civil Wars he fought as a Royalist then as a Parliamentarian from 1644. During the English Interregnum, he served on the English Council of State under Oliver Cromwell, although he opposed Cromwell's attempt to rule without Parliament during the Rule of the Major-Generals. He also opposed the religious extremism of the Fifth Monarchists during the Barebones Parliament.
Later as a member and patron he opposed the New Model Army's attempts to rule after Richard Cromwell's ousting; encouraged Sir George Monck's march on London, a pivotal march in restoring the monarchy; sat in the Convention Parliament of 1660 which agreed to restore the English monarchy; travelled among its twelve-strong delegation to the Dutch Republic to invite King Charles II to return. Shortly before his coronation, Charles created Cooper Lord Ashley, so when the Cavalier Parliament assembled in 1661 he moved from the House of Commons to the House of Lords. He served as Chancellor of the Exchequer, 1661–1672. During the ministry of the Earl of Clarendon, he opposed the Clarendon Code, preferring Charles II's Declaration of Indulgence (1662), which the King became forced to scrap. After the fall of Clarendon, he was one of the five among the later-criticised, acronym-based, Cabal Ministry or 'the cabal', serving as Lord Chancellor 1672–1673 — he was created Earl of Shaftesbury in 1672. During this period, John Locke entered his household. Ashley took an interest in colonial ventures and was one of the Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina. In 1669, Ashley and Locke collaborated in writing the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina. By 1673, Ashley was worried that the heir to the throne, James, Duke of York, was secretly a Roman Catholic.
Shaftesbury became a leading opponent of the policies of Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby who favoured strict interpretation of penal laws and compulsory Anglican adherence. Shaftesbury, who sympathized with Protestant Nonconformists, briefly agreed to work with the possible heir to the throne the Duke of York (James), who opposed enforcing the penal laws against Roman Catholic recusants. By 1675, however, Shaftesbury was convinced that Danby, assisted by high church bishops, was determined to revert England to an absolute monarchy. He soon came to see the Duke of York's religion as linked. Opposed to the growth of "popery and arbitrary government" throughout 1675-1680 Shaftesbury argued in favour of frequent parliaments (spending time in the Tower of London, 1677–1678 for espousing this view) and argued that the nation needed protection from a potential Roman Catholic successor thus in the Exclusion Crisis an outspoken supporter of the Exclusion Bill. He doubled this with supporting Charles II's remarrying a Protestant princess to produce a legitimate Protestant heir, or legitimizing his illegitimate Protestant son the Duke of Monmouth. The Whig party was born during this crisis, and Shaftesbury was one of the party's most prominent leaders.
In 1681, during the Tory reaction following the failure of the Exclusion Bill, Shaftesbury was arrested for high treason, a prosecution dropped several months later. In 1682, after the Tories had gained the ability to pack London juries with their supporters, Shaftesbury, fearing re-arrest and trial, fled abroad, arrived in Amsterdam, fell ill and soon died, in January 1683.Read more...