ASHLEY COOPER, Hon. Anthony Henry (1807-1858).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



11 Oct. 1831 - 1847

Family and Education

b. 5 May 1807, 3rd s. of Cropley Ashley†, 6th earl of Shaftesbury (d. 1851), and Lady Anne Spencer, da. of George, 4th duke of Marlborough; bro. of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley*, Hon. Anthony John Ashley Cooper* and Hon. Anthony William Ashley Cooper*. educ. Eton 1817. m. 2 Oct. 1835, Jane Frances, da. of Robert Pattison, banker, of Wrackleford House, nr. Dorchester, Dorset, 2da. d. 30 Nov. 1858.

Offices Held

Ensign 85 Ft. 1825, lt. 1826, capt. 1831; capt. Staff Corps (half-pay) 1834; capt. 9 Drag. and res. 1841.


Henry Ashley, as he was called, entered the 85th Foot in 1825 while still under age and, according to his eldest brother Lord Ashley’s journal, 28 Apr. 1826, bore ‘a good character at Malta’.1 In 1827 Lord Ashley sought and received the advice of the duke of Wellington, the commander-in-chief, on how his brother could advance his career.2 Henry, who presumably served with his regiment in the Mediterranean, Nova Scotia and Ireland, was promoted captain in June 1831. Later that year he replaced Lord Ashley, who resigned to fight the Dorset by-election, as Member for Dorchester, on their father’s interest. Following a six months’ illness, he appeared on the hustings ‘so much reduced as to be scarcely able to stand up’, but offered himself on the basis of his family’s local connections and known hostility to the Grey ministry’s reform bill. An abortive challenge was seen off and he was elected unopposed, 11 Oct., being admitted a freeman of Dorchester on the same day.3 He took his seat, 7 Dec., and voted against the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading of the bill, 22 Mar. 1832. He divided in favour of Waldo Sibthorp’s amendment respecting Lincoln freeholders, 23 Mar., and against the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. His only other known votes were against the third reading of the malt drawback bill, 2 Apr., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. At the general election of 1832, when he was again returned unopposed for Dorchester, he boasted that ‘few Members were more constant in their attendance in the House of Commons than myself’, and, regarding the Reform Act, declared that

so far as an individual not qualified to take a part in a debate to oppose it, I did. I opposed it uniformly and determinedly, not only from my conviction of its dangerous tendency, but because I knew that the feeling and opinions of my constituents were as strong upon that question as my own.4

Ashley, who joined the half-pay list in 1834 and resigned from the army in 1841, represented Dorchester until 1847. He died in November 1858, at his then residence, Clewer Lodge, New Windsor, Berkshire.5

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Stephen Farrell


  • 1. Southampton Univ. Lib. Broadlands mss SHA/PD/1.
  • 2. E. Hodder, Life and Work of Shaftesbury (1887), 38; Shaftesbury mss SE NC/2/14.
  • 3. Dorset Co. Chron. 6, 13 Oct.; The Times, 13 Oct. 1831; C.H. Mayo, Municipal Recs. of Dorchester, 434.
  • 4. Dorset Co. Chron. 13 Dec. 1832.
  • 5. Ibid. 9 Dec. 1858; Gent. Mag. (1859), i. 101.