Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of (16211683)

Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of, a notable politician, prominent in the times of Cromwell and Charles II., born, of good parentage, in Dorsetshire; passed through Oxford and entered Lincoln's Inn; sat in the Short Parliament of 1640; changed from the Royalist to the Parliamentary side during the Civil War, and was a member of Cromwell's Council of State, but latterly attacked the Protector's Government, and was one of the chief promoters of the Restoration; Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1661, and later a member of the “Cabal”; he in 1672 was created an earl and Lord Chancellor, but, hoodwinked by Charles in the secret Treaty of Dover, went over to the Opposition, lost his chancellorship, supported an Anti-Catholic policy, leagued himself with the Country Party, and intrigued with the Prince of Orange; came into power again, after the “Popish Plot,” as the champion of toleration and Protestantism, became President of the Council, and passed the Habeas Corpus Act; his virulent attacks on James and espousal of Monmouth's cause brought about his arrest on a charge of high treason (1681), and although acquitted he deemed it expedient to flee to Holland, where he died; one of the ablest men of his age, but of somewhat inscrutable character, whose shifting policy seems to have been chiefly dominated by a regard for self; is the “Achitophel” of Dryden's great satire (16211683).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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