Ashley Road, TW9

Place Name

Viscount Ashley is the courtesy title given to the eldest son of the earls of Shaftesbury, who owned Shaftesbury House, previously Rosedale Cottage, between 1805 and 1866. It was sold for development by the 7th Earl, Anthony Ashley-Cooper (April 28, 1801 – October 1, 1885), whose philanthropic work was commemorated after his death in the naming of Shaftesbury Avenue. As a Member of Parliament, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, initiated several reforming acts designed to alleviate the suffering of the poor. Soon after leaving Oxford University he became the Tory MP for Woodstock, and was quickly appointed to a number of committees, among them Pauper Lunatics in the County of Middlesex, having seen first-hand the terrible conditions he helped draft some of the first Acts of Parliament making reform a legal requirement. It was a campaign he was to continue throughout his life. He campaigned for child labour laws; legislation to ban women working in the pits; introduced laws to ban young boys as chimney sweeps, became president of the Ragged School Union; and sought the ban on opium; among many other reforms. He is said to have propagated the idea that social evils were caused by slum housing. When he died he was generally acknowledged as one of the most pious and energetic philanthropists of his generation. His eldest son Anthony Ashley Cooper (June 27, 1831 – April 13, 1886) proved to be a great disappointment to him. Married to Lady Harriet Augusta Anna Seymourina Chichester, he was constantly running up debts with his extravagant wife. Six months after becoming the 8th Earl he killed himself, after suffering from depression. His family suspecting he was planning to commit suicide had ordered the servants to follow him whenever he left the house, but on one trip his butler lost track of him. Having purchased a pistol he shot himself in the back of a hansom cab on Regent Street. This road was featured on the estate plan of 1869.

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