Anthony Ashley Cooper, 4th Earl of Shaftesbury

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

Family legacy

Shaftesbury's father, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, 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, Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, also known as Shaftesbury’s Characteristics. 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.”[1][2]

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.[3][4]

Georgia Trustees

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 (see 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.


Shaftesbury was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1754, and was made a Privy Counsellor in 1761.


  1. Fouke, Daniel C. Philosophy and Theology in a Burlesque Mode: John Toland and “The Way of Paradox.” New York: Humanity Books, 2007. Page 42.
  2. Rand, Benjamin. Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000. Page xii.
  3. Christie, William Dougal. A Life of Anthony Ashley Cooper: First Earl of Shaftesbury: 1621-1683. Volume I. Page xvi.
  4. Martyn, Benjamin. The Life of the First Earl of Shaftesbury. G. Wingrove Cooke, Esq., ed. Two Volumes. London: Richard Bentley, 1836. See Preface.
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Anthony Ashley Cooper
Earl of Shaftesbury
Succeeded by
Anthony Ashley Cooper
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