Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st earl of

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Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st earl of,

1621–83, English statesman. In the English civil war he supported the crown until 1644 but then joined the parliamentarians. He was made a member of the Commonwealth council of state and supported Oliver CromwellCromwell, Oliver
, 1599–1658, lord protector of England. Parliamentary General

The son of a gentry family, he entered Cambridge in 1616 but probably left the next year.
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 until 1654, when he turned against the Protectorate because of his distrust of autocratic rule. He supported the Rump Parliament against John LambertLambert, John,
1619–83, English parliamentary general. He fought in the first civil war (1642–46) and assisted Henry Ireton in drawing up the Heads of the Proposals in 1647.
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 and then participated in the Restoration (1660) of Charles IICharles II,
1630–85, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1660–85), eldest surviving son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria. Early Life

Prince of Wales at the time of the English civil war, Charles was sent (1645) to the W of England with his council,
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. Made a privy councilor and Baron Ashley (1661), he assisted in the trial of the regicidesregicides
[Lat., =king-killers], in English history, name given to those judges and court officers responsible for the trial and execution of Charles I in 1649. After the Restoration (1660) of the monarchy they were excepted from the general pardon granted by the Act of
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 but otherwise worked for a lenient settlement. The same year he became chancellor of the exchequer and gained royal favor by his support of religious toleration. Named one of the proprietors of Carolina, he took considerable interest in plans for the colony, commissioning his friend John LockeLocke, John
, 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of
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 to draw up a constitution for it. He joined the opposition to the 1st earl of ClarendonClarendon, Edward Hyde, 1st earl of
, 1609–74, English statesman and historian. Elected (1640) to the Short and Long parliaments, he was at first associated with the opposition to Charles I and helped prepare the
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 and, when the latter fell (1667), became a member of the CabalCabal
, inner group of advisers to Charles II of England. Their initials form the word (which is, however, of older origin)—Clifford of Chudleigh, Ashley (Lord Shaftesbury), Buckingham (George Villiers), Arlington (Henry Bennet), and Lauderdale (John Maitland).
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 administration. Created earl of Shaftesbury, he became lord chancellor in 1672. Shaftesbury had not been party to the secret Treaty of Dover (1670), and he gradually became suspicious of the king's efforts to improve the position of Roman Catholics. Renouncing his earlier belief in toleration, he supported the Test ActTest Act,
1673, English statute that excluded from public office (both military and civil) all those who refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, who refused to receive the communion according to the rites of the Church of England, or who refused to renounce belief
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 (1673). He was dismissed from office in the same year. Out of favor at court and embittered by his imprisonment in 1677 for opposing the prorogation of Parliament, he made use of the Popish Plot (see Oates, TitusOates, Titus,
1649–1705, English conspirator. An Anglican priest whose whole career was marked with intrigue and scandal, he joined forces with one Israel Tonge to invent the story of the Popish Plot of 1678.
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) to promote opposition to the earl of DanbyDanby, Thomas Osborne, earl of,
1631–1712, English statesman. Under the patronage of the 2d duke of Buckingham, he was appointed treasurer of the navy (1668), a privy councilor (1672), and lord treasurer (1673–78).
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 and to encourage anti-Catholic feeling. Using the Green Ribbon Club as his headquarters, Shaftesbury built up a party organization, and his followers, soon to be designated WhigWhig,
English political party. The name, originally a term of abuse first used for Scottish Presbyterians in the 17th cent., seems to have been a shortened form of whiggamor [cattle driver]. It was applied (c.
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, dominated the three Parliaments of 1679 to 1681. On Danby's fall (1679) Shaftesbury became president of the privy council and began to press for the exclusion bill to keep the Roman Catholic James, duke of York (later James IIJames II,
1633–1701, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1685–88); second son of Charles I, brother and successor of Charles II. Early Life
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), from the throne. He supported instead the claims of the duke of MonmouthMonmouth, James Scott, duke of
, 1649–85, pretender to the English throne; illegitimate son of Charles II of England by Lucy Walter. After his mother's death, he was cared for by Lord Crofts, by whose name the boy was known. In 1662, James went to live at Charles's court.
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. Again dismissed (1679), he continued the fight for exclusion until Charles dissolved the 1681 Parliament. Shaftesbury's position was now precarious, since his party was discredited and the king in complete control of the government. An indictment for treason failed, but he fled (1682) to Holland and soon died. Aided by his wealth and an exceptional mind, Shaftesbury has been called the most skillful politician of his day. He was bitterly satirized in John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel.


See biography by K. H. D. Haley (1968); J. R. Jones, The First Whigs: The Politics of the Exclusion Crisis, 1678–83 (1961).