Anthony Ashley Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury

British peer and philanthropist (1711–1771)

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury Bt PC FRS (9 February 1711 – 27 May 1771) was a British peer and philanthropist, who was one of the leading figures in the foundation of the colony of Georgia and served as Lord Lieutenant of Dorset from 1734 until his death.

Family legacy[edit]

Shaftesbury was the only child of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, and his wife Jane Ewer (c.1689–1751), daughter of a gentleman in Hertfordshire.[1] His father died in February 1713, leaving him fatherless in infancy, as well as heir to the family titles and estates. He grew up learning about the achievements of his father and great-grandfather and revering his family history. In 1732, he published a new edition of his father’s influential work, Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. The book was among the most influential of the British Enlightenment; historian Benjamin Rand described the 3rd Earl as the “greatest Stoic of modern times”.[2][3]

Shaftesbury also commissioned a biography of his great-grandfather and retained Benjamin Martyn for the project. He had become well acquainted with Martyn, Secretary to the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America, when he became a member of that organization at its first annual meeting in 1733.[4][5]

The Georgia Trustees[edit]

Shaftesbury was elected to the Trustees for the Establishment of the Colony of Georgia in America in 1733, less than a year after the group was created by royal charter. In light of his family’s intellectual tradition, he may have been among those trustees who, following James Oglethorpe, saw the Georgia colony as a potential model society as well as one that addressed several more pragmatic purposes through the Oglethorpe Plan. By 1750, however, Shaftesbury replaced Oglethorpe as a guiding force among the Trustees, tilting the governance of the colony in a more conventional direction and preparing it to become a royal colony in 1752.

Marriages and children[edit]

Shaftesbury married in 1724 his cousin Susan or Susanna Noel (1710–1758), daughter of Baptist Noel, 3rd Earl of Gainsborough.[6] They had no children.

Secondly, in 1759 he married Mary Bouverie (1730–1804), daughter of Jacob Bouverie, later 1st Viscount Folkestone. Their children were:[7]

Honours and positions[edit]

Shaftesbury was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1754, and was made a Privy Counsellor in 1761.[citation needed] He was Lord Lieutenant of Dorset, the monarch’s representative in that county, from 1734 until his death.[citation needed]


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  1. ^ .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a,.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F} .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){ .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}Klein, Lawrence E. “Cooper, Anthony Ashley, third earl of Shaftesbury”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/6209. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Fouke, Daniel C. Philosophy and Theology in a Burlesque Mode: John Toland and “The Way of Paradox.” New York: Humanity Books, 2007. Page 42.
  3. ^ Rand, Benjamin. Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000. Page xii.
  4. ^ Christie, William Dougal. A Life of Anthony Ashley Cooper: First Earl of Shaftesbury: 1621-1683. Volume I. Page xvi.
  5. ^ Martyn, Benjamin. The Life of the First Earl of Shaftesbury. G. Wingrove Cooke, Esq., ed. Two Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, 1836. See Preface.
  6. ^ “Lady Susan Noel”. Kindred Britain. Stanford University Libraries. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  7. ^ “Anthony Ashley [Cooper], 4th Earl of Shaftesbury, PC”. Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  8. ^ Thorne, R. G. “STURT, Charles (1763-1812), of More Critchell and Brownsea Castle, Dorset”. History of Parliament Online. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
Peerage of England
Preceded by

Earl of Shaftesbury
Succeeded by


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