Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury: Letters to Michael Aynsworth

Scope and Content

Letters written by the Anthony Ashley Cooper to Michael Aynsworth in the years 1707-1710, transcribed by R. Flexman, 48 folios: (fo. 1) former class mark in pencil; (fo. 1v) note of sale; (fo. 2) title; (fo. 2v) list of contents; (fo. 3) R. Flexman: introduction; copies of letters, 25 February 1707 - 10 July 1710; (fo. 40v) notes on the letters.

Administrative / Biographical History

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713), was born on 26 February 1671, at Exeter House, London, the son of Lord Ashley, afterwards second Earl, and Lady Dorothy Manners, daughter of John, Earl of Rutland. He attended Winchester School, before embarking on a tour of the continent, after which he completed his studies in England. He was elected member of parliament for Poole in 1695, but was forced to retire from parliamentary life in 1698 because of the poor state of his health. In 1699 he became the Earl of Shaftesbury. Although he attended the House of Lords regularly until the death of King William, his health prevented him from taking a more active role in parliamentary politics. He left England in 1711 and settled in Naples, where he died in February 1713. Shaftesbury's literary works were printed in one volume in 1711 as the Characteristics of men, manners, opinions, times.

Michael Aynsworth was born in Dorset. He attended University College, Oxford, before becoming vicar of Cornhampton, Hampshire. He received the patronage of Shaftesbury while a young man.

The transcriber of Shaftesbury's letters is probably Roger Flexman (1708-1795), D.D., presbyterian minister.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1918.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Shaftesbury in Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds, Dictionary of national biography, Vol. IV (London, 1908), pp. 1055-1058.

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.

Custodial History

The volume was originally no. 33392 in the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps.