Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley

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Lord Ashley
Born (1900-10-04)4 October 1900
Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, England
Died 8 March 1947(1947-03-08)
Wimborne St Giles, Dorset, England
Title Major Hon Lord
Tenure 1900-1947
Other names Lord Ashley
Known for son of 9th Earl of Shaftesbury
Nationality English
Locality Dorset

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley (4 October 1900 – 8 March 1947), was a British army officer. He was the eldest son of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury and Lady Constance Sibell Grosvenor. His courtesy title "Lord Ashley", was used as the eldest son of the Earl of Shaftesbury.[1]

Family life[edit]

Ashley was married twice. His first wife was the former Edith Louisa Sylvia Hawkes, known as Sylvia. They were married on 3 February 1927 and divorced 28 November 1934. Upon her marriage, she became Lady Ashley, while her legal married name was Ashley-Cooper.[2] Lord Ashley shocked London society by marrying Hawkes, an English model and actress from the chorus line. They were divorced after she began an affair with American actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr, who was named as co-respondent in the petition for divorce.

After Lord Ashley's divorce, Lady Ashley went on to marry Fairbanks; Edward John Stanley, 6th Baron Sheffield; American actor, Clark Gable; and Prince Dimitri Djordjadze. While she was married to four other men after her divorce from Lord Ashley, she continued to use the name Lady Ashley throughout her life.[3]

Lord Ashley's second wife was the French-born Françoise Soulier, daughter of Georges Soulier of Caudebec-en-Caux, France. Lord Ashley and Soulier were married on 31 March 1937 and remained married until his death in 1947. Their two children were:

Lord Ashley was heir apparent to the earldom, scheduled to inherit upon the death of his father. However, at age 46, Ashley died unexpectedly of heart disease before his father. At that time, his son, Anthony Ashley-Cooper became heir apparent, inheriting the earldom in 1961 upon the death of the 9th Earl of Shaftesbury.

Auxiliary Units[edit]

During the Second World War Major Lord Ashley served as a British Intelligence Officer with the Auxiliary Units, which were highly covert Resistance groups trained to engage and counteract the expected invasion of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany. Members of the Auxiliary Unit were stationed in covert hidden bunkers scattered throughout Great Britain. While Major Lord Ashley was trained at Coleshill House near Highworth, Wiltshire, specific details regarding his assignments and operational base remain classified.[4][5]

Order of St John[edit]

Lord Ashley was a member of the Venerable Order of Saint John, which is an international charity, accredited to the United Nations, whose organisations provide first aid, health care and support services in over forty countries around the world. The Order has volunteers and staff of over 250,000. Membership in the order is by invitation only, and individuals may not petition for admission.[6] Lord Ashley was honoured as an Officer Grade IV, title OStJ.


  1. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes, Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003, volume 3, page 3576.
  2. ^ Kidd, Charles. Debrett Goes to Hollywood, New York, U.S.A.: St. Martin's Press, 1986, page 43.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ The Wartime Memories Project - Auxiliary Units
  5. ^ Lampe, David. The Last Ditch: Britain's Secret Resistance and the Nazi Invasion Plan, London: Greenhill Books, 2007, p. 92.
  6. ^ Order of St John: The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem - Welcome to the website for the Order of St John