Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury PC, known as Anthony Ashley Cooper from 1621 to 1631, as Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, 2nd Baronet from 1631 to 1661, and as The Lord Ashley from 1661 to 1672, was a prominent English politician during the Interregnum and during the reign of King Charles II. A founder of the Whig party, he is also remembered as the patron of John Locke.
Anthony Ashley Cooper was born in 1621 and had lost both of his parents by the age of eight. He was brought up by Edward Tooker and other guardians named in his father's will, before attending Exeter College, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn. After he married the daughter of Thomas Coventry, 1st Baron Coventry, in 1639, Coventry's patronage secured Cooper a seat in the Short Parliament, although Cooper lost a disputed election to a seat in the Long Parliament. During the English Civil War, Cooper initially fought as a Royalist, before departing for the Parliamentary side in 1644. During the English Interregnum, he served on the English Council of State under Oliver Cromwell, although he opposed Cromwell's attempt to rule without parliament during the Rule of the Major-Generals. He also opposed the religious extremism of the Fifth Monarchists during Barebone's Parliament.