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Shaftesbury Anthony Ashley Cooper

Shaftesbury, ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER, 1ST EARL OF (1621-83), statesman, was the son of Sir John Cooper, of Rockborne, in Hampshire. After studying at Oxford, he entered Parliament in 1640. When the Civil War broke out, he at first supported the Royal cause, but subsequently he went over to the Parliament, and was given the command of the troops in Dorsetshlre. He sat in the Barebones and first Protectorate Parliaments, but was excluded by Cromwell from that which met in 1656. He thereupon joined the opposition, and afterwards took a leading part in effecting the Restoration, being one of the twelve commissioners sent to Breda to invite Charles II. to return. He must be held in some measure responsible for the misdeeds of the Cabal Ministry (1667-73), although he endeavoured to prevent the "stop of the exchequer" (1672), and probably wished to maintain the Triple Alliance. In I672 he was made Earl of Shaftesbury and Lord Chancellor, but the success of the Test Bill in the following year proved fatal to the Cabal. He now put himself forward as the champion of popular rights, and began to intrigue with Monmonth. In consequence of his opposition to the prorogation of Parliament in 1677 he was placed in the Tower, where he remained for a year. His conduct during the excitement occasioned by the Popish Plot (1678-80) marks him as a reckless and shameless demagogue. Yet England owes him a debt of gratitude for the Habeas Corpus Act, passed after his return to power as President of the Council in 1679. He only held office six months, for his attempt to impeach the Duke of York broke down, and, after his appearance at the Oxford Parliament with an armed body of followers, he was again lodged in the Tower (1681). The bill charging him with high treason was thrown out by the Middlesex Grand Jury, but he had been sinking deeper and deeper into intrigue, and in November, 1682, he prudently fled to Holland. His death took place two months later at Amsterdam. Shaftesbury is the Achitophel of Dryden's satire