Anthony Ashley Cooper, first earl of, an English statesman, born at Wim-borne St. Giles, Dorsetshire, July 22, 1621, died in Amsterdam, Jan. 22, 1683. His father was Sir John Cooper, of Rockbourne, Hants, and his mother Anne, daughter of Sir Anthony Ashley, Queen Elizabeth's secretary of war. He studied at Exeter college, Oxford, and at Lincoln's Inn, and represented Tewkesbury in the short parliament of 1640. In the civil war he first supported Charles I., but in 1644 went over to the parliament, raised a force in Dorsetshire, stormed Wareham, and reduced the surrounding country. He was a member of Cromwell's parliaments, and was appointed by the Barebones parliament one of the council of state, though openly opposed to many of Cromwell's measures. He retired from the council in 1654, and was a leader of the opposition in parliament both before and after Cromwell's death. He was active in the overthrow of the second protectorate and the restoration of Charles II., being a member of the commission sent to Breda to invite his return, and was appointed governor of the isle of Wight, lord lieutenant of Dorsetshire, chancellor of the exchequer, and a privy councillor, and in April, 1661, was created Baron Ashley. He was one of the commission for the trial of the regicides, whom he prosecuted with zeal.
In 1667 he was made joint commissioner of the treasury. His title furnished the second letter for the name Cabal given to the Clifford ministry (see Cabal), and he has been charged with the scheme of shutting up the exchequer. In 1672 he was created earl of Shaftesbury and made lord chancellor. He had no legal knowledge, was ignorant of his duties, and servile to the king. Suddenly he began to oppose the government of which he was a member, and the king dismissed him (1673). His opposition now became very violent, and in 1677 he was committed to the tower, where he remained more than a year, and was not released until he begged pardon on his knees. Oates's "popish plot" made him powerful, and he was the author of the test bill of 1678, under which Catholics were excluded from parliament during 151 years. As president of the new permanent council he became nominal chief of the government; but, aware of the instability of his condition, he determined that the duke of York should be excluded from the succession. In 1679 he framed and caused to be passed the habeas corpus act. Parliament being dissolved and Shaftesbury dismissed, he became more violent than ever, induced Monmouth to return home, and tried to pro-cure the indictment of the duke of York as a recusant.
In the parliament of 1679 the commons were completely under his influence, and he carried resolutions against the duke of York, and caused the exclusion bill to be again brought forward, which rapidly passed the lower house, but was thrown out by the lords. The king again dissolved parliament, and the next one met at Oxford; but Shaftesbury being still all-powerful in the commons, it was soon dissolved (1681). The earl was arrested by order of council on the charge of high treason, and the benefit of his own habeas corpus act was denied him; but the grand jury threw out the bill, and the earl was liberated. He left England, and reached Amsterdam in 1682, where he was admitted to the magistracy. This secured his personal safety, and for the remainder of his life he lived in splendor. He wrote memoirs of his own times, and intrusted them to his friend John Locke, who destroyed them, frightened, it is said, by the execution of Algernon Sidney. His life was written and privately printed under the direction of his great-grandson (new ed., 1836). See also "Life of the first Lord Shaftesbury," by W. D. Christie (London, 1871).
Anthony Ashley Cooper, third earl of, grandson of the preceding, born in London, Feb. 26, 1671, died in Naples, Feb. 15, 1713. He entered parliament in 1693, and made a famous speech in behalf of the proposal to allow counsel to persons charged with high treason. Illness compelled him to retire from public life in 1698. He entered the house of lords in 1700, supported the measures of William III., and on the king's death retired. He was a philanthropist and a leading free thinker, and wrote "A Letter on Enthusiasm" (1708); "Moralists" and Sensus Communis (1709); and "A Soliloquy, or Advice to Authors" (1710). A complete collection of his works was published under the title "Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times" (3 vols. 8vo, 1713). At the time of his death he was engaged in Naples upon a work on the arts of design.
Anthony Ashley Cooper, seventh earl of, born April 28, 1801. He graduated at Christ Church college, Oxford, in 1822, was returned to parliament in 1826, and supported the administration of George Canning. He was repeatedly a member of the house of commons, and entered the house of lords in 1851. He has continually striven to improve the condition of the laboring classes, and has taken part in many religious and benevolent enterprises.