Lord Shaftesbury Facts

Here are some facts about Lord Shaftesbury, the English reformer and politician.

  • Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury was born on 28th April 1801 at 24 Grosvenor Square, London.

  • Until his father’s death in 1851, he was known as Lord Ashley.
  • Lord Ashley didn’t have a very happy childhood. He hardly saw his parents and he had an unpleasant time at the Manor House School in Chiswick. He did get on well with the housekeeper, Maria Mills. She used to tell him stories from the Bible to cheer him up when he was unhappy.
  • Shaftesbury was a pupil at Harrow School and then he studied classics at Christ Church College, Oxford.
  • In 1826 Shaftesbury became a Tory Member of Parliament. He was a supporter of the Duke of Wellington.
  • Shaftesbury was heavily involved in reforming lunatic asylums in Britain helping to provide better care and treatment of the insane.
  • He was also one of the key individuals responsible for bringing about reform of Britain’s factories, improving working conditions and limiting the length of the workday.

Lord Shaftesbury

  • Shaftesbury was president of the Ragged School Union, promoting the education of poor children.
  • Lord Shaftesbury was married to Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper. They had ten children.
  • He died on 1st October 1885. He was 84 years old. A funeral service was held in Westminster Abbey. Many people assembled to catch a glimpse of Shaftesbury’s coffin.
  • In 1893 the Shaftesbury Memorial was placed in Piccadilly Circus. The Memorial is topped by a statue of the Greek God, Anteros. The statue is called the The Angel of Christian Charity, but most people (incorrectly) call it the Statue of Eros.
  • Lord Shaftesbury was known as the Reforming Lord Shaftesbury and the Poor Man’s Earl, because many of the reforms he championed helped the poor and the working class of Victorian Britain.

What next? Find out more about Victorian factory reforms, learn about William Wilberforce (another famous British philanthropist and reformer), or visit our Victorians resources page.

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