Nicholas Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury

The Right Honourable
The Earl of Shaftesbury

Lord Shaftesbury in the estate library, July 2010
Born Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper
(1979-06-03) 3 June 1979
London, England
Tenure 15 May 2005  present
Other titles Baron Ashley
of Wimborne St Giles,
Baron Cooper of Pawlett
Known for Philanthropy; musician; endurance running
Residence London and Wimborne St Giles
Predecessor Anthony Ashley-Cooper,
11th Earl of Shaftesbury
Spouse(s) Dinah Streifeneder
Issue Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Lord Ashley
Lady Viva Ashley-Cooper
Lady Zara Ashley-Cooper
Parents Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury
Christina Eva Montan

Nicholas Edmund Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 12th Earl of Shaftesbury Bt, (born 3 June 1979) also known as Nick Ashley-Cooper, succeeded his brother as Earl of Shaftesbury. The 12th Earl of Shaftesbury is the godson of Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, and Simon Elliot, brother-in-law of Charles, Prince of Wales.

Shaftesbury's father, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, had been murdered in November 2004 by the brother of his third wife, Jamila M'Barek, but his body was not discovered until April 2005.[1] A month later, on 15 May 2005, Shaftesbury's brother, Anthony, the 11th Earl, died of a heart attack and the peerage devolved upon Nicholas. Following his brother's death, Shaftesbury relocated to his family home from New York City and assumed the responsibilities of the earldom. He also holds the subsidiary titles Baron Ashley and Baron Cooper.

On 11 September 2010, Lord Shaftesbury married Dinah Streifeneder. Professionally, the Countess of Shaftesbury is a veterinary surgeon. Together, they have interests in working to assist children with disabilities. Since inheriting the titles and estate, they have pursued the restoration of St Giles House, in the hope that it might revitalise the local community.

With the family's history and tradition for public service[2][3] Lord Shaftesbury put his name forward as a candidate to become an elected Crossbench hereditary peer, on the death of the 4th Viscount Colville of Culross in April 2010 and the By-election in June which followed. The eventual victor was the 9th Earl of Clancarty.[4] He has since attempted to be elected as a crossbench peer in several subsequent by-elections in the House of Lords, without success.[5][6]

Personal background

Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury, 2010

Nicholas Ashley-Cooper was born on 3 June 1979, in London, the son of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 10th Earl of Shaftesbury, and the Swedish-born Christina Eva Montan (born c. 1940). Ashley-Cooper's elder brother was Anthony Nils Christian Ashley-Cooper. His mother was the daughter of Nils Montan, the former Swedish Ambassador to Germany. Lady Shaftesbury was also a divorcée with a son and daughter from her first marriage, the step-siblings of the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury.[7] Ashley-Cooper succeeded his elder brother to the earldom. The 11th Earl died on 15 May 2005 of a heart attack in Manhattan, New York, while visiting his younger brother, Nicholas.[2][8]

Ashley-Cooper attended Eton College in his youth, as his father did before him, leaving early, at age 16, to go to Canford School near his home in Dorset. He later attended Manchester University, graduating in 2001. The focus of his education included Economics and Social Policy. In 2008, Shaftesbury graduated from the London Business School, earning his Masters in Business Administration. While maintaining his musical interests, Lord Shaftesbury has also shown an interest in supporting charitable organisations, primarily those addressing the needs of children with disabilities.

In December 2009, Lord Shaftesbury suffered serious spinal injuries in a riding accident, crushing several vertebrae in the fall. While he experienced initial paralysis necessitating the use of a wheelchair, physical therapy has helped restore his health to the point where he is able to walk, with limitations.[9]

Shaftesbury Estates

Wimborne St Giles in East Dorset is the home base and centre of business of the Ashley-Coopers. The house possesses one of the finest private libraries in Great Britain.[10]

St Giles House (left) and the stables

The Ashleys and Ashley-Coopers have made Wimborne St Giles their home since the 15th century. The small village of Wimborne St Giles rests within the family estate itself. The Ashley family arrived in Dorset, originally from Wiltshire, where they owned the manor of Ashley, since the 11th century. The first ancestor to reside in Wimborne St Giles was Robert Ashley (born c. 1415), fifth great grandfather of Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury.[11][12]

Built in 1651, the family seat of St Giles House has fallen into disrepair and has been unoccupied for about 60 years. In 2001, St Giles House was recorded on the Register of Buildings at Risk, as a Grade I listed building, indicating neglect and decay. Buildings recorded on the Grade I list include those of "exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important".[13] The 12th Earl's great grandfather, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, was the last earl to live in the home.

Discussions regarding future use of St Giles House and the estate have been resumed following inheritance by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury.[14] Restoration will help secure the future of the house as a family home and as a venue for a wide range of activities including weddings and corporate events.[15]

Gatehouse to St Giles House
on the Shaftesbury Estate in Dorset

The parkland and estate is also available for various sporting events and weddings. The estate management allows commercial partridge and pheasant shoots. Fishing is also available along the River Allen, yielding a fine head of native brown trout. The available water on the estate stretches from Loverley Mill up to the Perennial Spring, which includes Crichel, Bowerswaine, Brockington and Wimborne St Giles.

In 2010, various interior and exterior shots of St Giles House have provided the background and setting for the Autumn/Winter 2010 catalogue for menswear brand, Favourbrook. The 12th Earl can be seen, along with model, David Annand, modelling the Favourbrook line in the shots taken on the estate.[16]

Mainsail Haul

During World War II, St Giles House was requisitioned and used as a school. At that time, the family took up residence at the dower house, known as Mainsail Haul and have lived there ever since. This Manor House is located near the centre of Wimborne St Giles.[17]

Lough Neagh
Main article: Lough Neagh

The earl owns Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland. It is the largest lake in the United Kingdom, and any development affecting the bed and soil needs permission and a levy to be paid. It was offered to the government for free in 1997 but the offer was refused.[18] This may have serious implications for planned changes to state-run domestic water services in Northern Ireland, as the lough supplies 40 percent of the region's drinking water and is also used as a sewage outfall (in a system only permissible through British Crown immunity).[19] The Northern Ireland Assembly now want the lough and the Earl is currently in talks with the Agriculture Minister to discuss the future of the lough.[20]

Philanthropic interests

While Ashley-Cooper was attending school during his youth, he was an accomplished cross country runner. While setting it aside during his adulthood, he eventually picked it up again during his late 20s, in response to his desire to "get into shape". To this end, he has competed in several marathons and cross country runs to benefit charitable organisations.[21]

London Marathon

On 13 April 2008, Shaftesbury completed his first major run with team member and friend, Rob Jenkins, in the London Marathon. Participation in the marathon served to benefit the charitable organisation, Phab Limited, which is a national charity working to promote and encourage disabled and non-disabled individuals live and work in an integrated and welcoming society. The 12th Earl trained with the goal to complete the 42.195-kilometre (26.219 mi) course in under four hours. He completed the race in three hours and 20 minutes and raised £8657.[22]

4 Deserts Race: Sahara Desert

On 26 October 2008, Shaftesbury took part in his first endurance run with the 4 Deserts, which is a series of four, six-day, 250-kilometre (160 mi) self-supported footraces across some of the most unwelcoming deserts on Earth. These deserts include the Gobi in China, the Atacama in Chile, the Sahara Desert in Egypt and Antarctica. Each race is 250 kilometres long with the final race being The Last Desert, held in Antarctica. To qualify for the last race, runners must have successfully completed two of the other three races. As of 2011, he has completed the Sahara Desert race and the Atacama Desert in Chile, which was completed in March 2011.

The Sahara Race was a six-day, 250-kilometer footrace across the Sahara Desert of Egypt, which is the hottest desert on earth. The main obstacles faced include the relentless heat and soft sand dunes. Shaftesbury's goal included raising funds for AbleChildAfrica. He finished 31st in the race and raised £4000.90.[23]

Racing the Planet: Namibia

Shipwreck along the Skeleton Coast

On 17 May 2009, Shaftesbury participated in his second desert race, running across the country of Namibia in the ultramarathon, Racing the Planet: Namibia. The course is a seven-day, 250-kilometre (160 mi) self-supported footrace that winds its way through huge sand dunes, deep canyons, mountain ranges and along the famous Skeleton Coast.

Shaftesbury's goal was to raise financial support for ChildLink. The funds raised by the earl directly helped cover the college fees and vital education for poor and orphaned children of South India. He finished 24th and raised £6282.69.[24]

Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc

On 29 August 2009, Shaftesbury participated in the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) TDS Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie mountain ultramarathon, which is the most difficult foot race in Europe. The race takes place once a year in the Alps, across France, Italy and Switzerland. The distance is approximately 105 km, with a total elevation gain of around 6,700 m. He finished 29th in the race.

4 Deserts Race: Atacama Desert

In March 2011, the earl finished his second 4 Desert race in the Atacama Desert of Chile, considered the driest place on earth. The seven day, 250 kilometres (160 mi) race began on 3 March and ended on 10 March. In honour of the completion of this race, Shaftesbury was the recipient of the Spirit Award, presented by 4 Desert and Racing the Planet officials.[25] With completion of this race, he is qualified to participate in the final marathon, The Last Desert, to be held in Antarctica in November 2012.[26]

Grand Shaftesbury Run

In 2010, the 12th Earl and Countess of Shaftesbury began working together to develop a national charitable event, known as the Grand Shaftesbury Run, held on the grounds of the historic Shaftesbury Estate. The inaugural run was launched on 12 June 2011.[3] The run features two courses, a 10 km (6.2 mi) course and a half marathon (13.1 mi), in support of three charities, including Wings For Life, The Philip Green Memorial School, and the Victoria Education Centre and Sports College, Sparkle Appeal.[27]

Professional background

Music promotion

He first arrived in New York in his early twenties, where he contributed to the city's thriving electronic music scene. He came over from Britain to manage a trendy club, Arcspace, which was notable for its lack of a drinks licence. Making a virtue out of necessity, he drew a crowd that was more interested in music and dancing than getting drunk and created a loyal fan base.

Before succeeding to the earldom, Ashley-Cooper established himself as a successful entrepreneur, having set up and run a music events company in New York. He was in demand as a house DJ and music promoter in New York, London, and at Privilege in Ibiza, Spain. He has been professionally stylised as nick ac.[28] He formed the notable collective ROBOTS in 2004 with several other New York DJs, establishing a weekly event at Club Deville.[29] In the summer of 2006, he spent time in residency at Privilege Ibiza.

Following his brother's death, Lord Shaftesbury relocated to the family seat at Wimborne St Giles, to assume the responsibilities of the earldom.

Business administration

As of 2010, Shaftesbury is employed as the chief operating officer with GoMix, which is an interactive music software platform company. The company has launched a widget, designed specifically for use on social networking sites. Shaftesbury has a solid grounding in business management and strategic design consultant. Prior to signing on with GoMix, he served as part of a team that raised over $5 million for Saatchi Online, which is an online forum and art gallery presenting the work of over 100,000 artists and receiving an estimated 73 million hits per day. Prior to his work with Saatchi Online, he worked in Digital Strategy and Business Development with Terra Firma Capital Partners, following their acquisition of British music company EMI Group Limited. Terra Firma is perhaps best known, in recent years, for its widely publicised investment in EMI.

Shaftesbury's earlier work involved providing strategic analysis with Discovery Networks Europe as a member of the strategy team for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The network offers "a portfolio of channels, led by Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, that are distributed in virtually every pay-television market in the world".[30]

In 2010, Lord Shaftesbury was recognised as one of the top 20 young individuals in the UK, according to the Sunday Times Rich List. Shaftesbury's was listed in 16th place, alongside singers Leona Lewis, Charlotte Church and Katherine Jenkins.[31]


Dinah Ashley-Cooper, Countess of Shaftesbury, was born Dinah Streifeneder on 12 September 1980 in Munich. She is the daughter of Dr Fritz Streifeneder and Argentinian-born Renata Leander-Streifeneder. Her mother is a physiotherapist, while her father is a retired orthopaedic surgeon.[32] She spent her early life in Rome, Italy.[33]

She and the Earl married on 11 September 2010 in Dorset, gaining the titles of Countess of Shaftesbury, Baroness Ashley and Baroness Cooper. The couple have three children. Their son Anthony Francis Wolfgang Ashley-Cooper was born on 24 January 2011. He is the only person in line of succession to the earldom as his father's heir apparent.[34] He was followed by a daughter, Lady Viva Constance Lillemor Ashley-Cooper, born on 22 April 2012, and younger daughter Lady Zara Ashley-Cooper was born in December 2014.[35]

Styles of address


  1. "The murder the curse and the DJ earl". The Times. London. 12 June 2005.
  2. 1 2 "Bonding with charitable cause following fall". 11 May 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  3. 1 2 "Charity runs in my family says earl behind 10K race". Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  4. "Crossbench Hereditary Peers' By-Election, June 2010" (PDF). Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  5. "Whole House by-election July 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2011.
  6. "Crossbench Hereditary Peers' By-Election, May 2011" (PDF). Retrieved 11 May 2011.
  7. Baxter, Sarah (12 June 2005). "The murder, the curse and the DJ earl". London: Retrieved 15 July 2010.
  8. "New Earl died of heart attack after father's death | Mail Online". London: 10 August 2005. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  9. Kay, Richard (18 January 2010). "Curse of the Shaftesburys strikes again | Mail Online". London: Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  10. 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. ISBN 978-0-9711966-2-9
  11. Timbs, John; and Alexander Gunn. Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales – Their Legendary Lore and Popular History, Read Books, 2006, pp. 444–446. ISBN 978-1-84664-342-2
  12. Burke, John. A genealogical and heraldic History of the extinct and dormant Baronetcies of England, Ireland and Scotland: By John and John Bern. Burke, John Russ Smith, p 18, 1844. ISBN 978-0-8063-0739-8
  13. "Listed Buildings". English Heritage. 2012. Archived from the original on 24 January 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
  14. "English Heritage | English Heritage". Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  15. "St Giles House on 2001 Register of Buildings at Risk". 28 June 2001. Retrieved 4 July 2010.
  16. "Menswear" (PDF). Favourbrook/LM Communications. Autumn–Fall 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  17. East Dorset District Council Policy Planning Division Supplementary Planning Guidance No. 16 April 2006, Wimborne St Giles, East Dorset District Council, 2006
  18. BBC Radio Ulster, 1:30PM Sun, 30 September 2012,
  19. "Sudden death may impact NI water". BBC News. 19 May 2005.
  20. Belfast, Telegraph (10 April 2012). "Lough Neagh's future still up in the air". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  21. "Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2013 Official Website". 7 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  22. Phab Limited (13 April 2008). "Nick Ashley-Cooper is fundraising for Phab Limited". Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  23. AbleChildAfrica (26 October 2008). "Nick Ashley-Cooper is fundraising for AbleChildAfrica". Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  24. Child-Link (17 May 2009). "Nick Ashley-Cooper is fundraising for Child-Link". Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  25. "Atacama Crossing (Chile)". Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  26. "Atacama Crossing (Chile) 2013 Official Website". 7 August 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  27. "The Great Shaftesbury Run". TGSR. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  28. "RA: Nick AC". Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  29. "We Are Robots". We Are Robots. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  30. "e10vk". 28 February 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  31. Willis, Amy (24 April 2010). "Sunday Times Rich List 2010: Harry Potter stars dominate top 20 young millionaires list". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2010.
  32. "Index". Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  33. "Wedding joy for 12th Earl (From Thisisdorset)". 10 September 2010. Retrieved 17 November 2010.
  34. Note: He is styled Lord Ashley.
  35. Dr. Dinah Streifeneder
Peerage of England
Preceded by
Anthony Ashley-Cooper
Earl of Shaftesbury
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