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Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury




Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury (1621 1683), was the most versatile and brilliant of the Lords Proprietors. Like Albemarle, he had served the Parliamentary forces but he also cooperated with Monck in restoring Charles II as the only means of national peace. Shaftesbury was a pronounced liberal and very much opposed to religious intolerance and persecution. The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, the laws for the new providence, were the work of Shaftesbury's friend and secretary, the philosopher John Locke, but they contain evidences of Shaftesbury's collaboration, too. The laws he helped to write produced the greatest measure of political and religious freedom in British North America (and, indeed, in much of the world). He was the author of the Habeas Corpus Act whereby an accused man cannot be held indefinitely in prison without trial, an English law which passed into that of the United States.

Shaftesbury not only had his holdings in Carolina, but he had been part owner of a sugar plantation on Barbadoes, and a shareholder in the Hudson's Bay Company. As Charles II grew more absolute in his rule, and as Protestantism faced extinction in England if Charles' Catholic brother, James II, should succeed him, Shaftesbury opposed the growing political and religious absolutism he saw approaching, fell out of Charles' favor, was exiled to Holland and died there.