Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st earl of

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Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st earl of (1621–83). Politician. As chancellor of the Exchequer 1661–72, Shaftesbury (then Lord Ashley) was a minor but hard-working and able member of Charles II's early ministries. Promoted to the more prestigious office of lord chancellor in 1672, and made an earl, his deism and attachment to parliamentary government put him at odds with the king's increasingly obvious pro-French and pro-catholic policy and its sinister threat of royal absolutism, and he was dismissed in 1673. He then went into systematic opposition. From 1679 he led the ‘Exclusion’ campaign to bar the catholic duke of York from the succession, exploiting the Popish plot to generate anti-catholic feeling. Despite poor health, he succeeded in unifying the disparate opposition groups in Parliament into an electorally successful party of ‘Whigs’ and employed demotic and propagandist tactics to rouse popular support. Hounded in his last months on a charge of treason, he died in Holland early in 1683.

Andrew Hanham

Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of

views updated May 23 2018

Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of (1621–83) English political leader. A former member of the council of state under the Commonwealth, he was among those who invited Charles II to return to England at the Restoration (1660). He was made an earl and lord chancellor (1672). His determination to prevent the succession of the Catholic James II drove him to lead the parliamentary opposition to the court (1673) as a founder of the Whig Party. Accused of treason (1682), he fled to Holland.

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Anthony Ashley Cooper 1st earl of Shaftesbury

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