Anthony Ashley Cooper
1801- 1885. Evangelical social reformer. He was educated at Harrow and Christ Church, Oxford, then entered Parliament in 1826. He was a Tory, though his growing concern with social issues-particularly his desire to improve working-class conditions which had been created by the Industrial Revolution-made him more independent politically. In 1828 he became a member of the Metropolitan Lunacy Commission and began his work for the mentally ill. In 1845 he persuaded Parliament to establish a permanent Lunacy Commission for the whole country, and he was its chairman until he died. From 1833 to 1847 his main political concern was with the factory question, which after a long battle resulted in the Ten-Hours Act (1847), though the question continued to occupy his attention until the Factory Act (1874).
From 1840 he gave his support to other social questions. He championed the cause of the women and children working in mines and collieries, and secured the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into children's employment in general. It was not, however, until 1864 and 1867 that parliamentary acts regulated child and female labor, and not until 1875 did the Climbing Boys Act protect children used as chimney sweeps. He also promoted legislation to protect milliners and dressmakers. From 1859 Shaftesbury devoted more of his time to direct social work in connection with the slums, the Ragged School Union (of which he was chairman), and his own schemes of industrial schools and training ships. He was the leading evangelical in the midcentury, and strongly opposed Ritualism and Rationalism. He supported Catholic Emancipation (1829). As Lord Palmerston's stepson-in- law, he advised him on ecclesiastical appointments during his premiership. He was president of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and closely associated with the London City Mission, Church Missionary Society, YMCA, and Church Pastoral-Aid Society.
See E. Hodder, Life and Work of the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (3 vols., 1886), and G.F.A. Best, Shaftesbury (1964).