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Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton

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The Lord Shackleton
1969 photograph, by Godfrey Argent
Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords
Shadow Leader of the House of Lords
In office
19 June 1970 – 4 March 1974
Preceded byThe Lord Carrington
Succeeded byThe Lord Carrington
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
16 January 1968 – 20 June 1970
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byThe Earl of Longford
Succeeded byThe Earl Jellicoe
Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal
In office
16 January 1968 – 6 April 1968
Preceded byThe Earl Longford
Succeeded byFred Peart
In office
1 November 1968 – 20 June 1970
Preceded byFred Peart
Succeeded byThe Earl Jellicoe
Paymaster General
In office
6 April 1968 – 1 November 1968
Preceded byGeorge Wigg
Succeeded byJudith Hart
Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
In office
7 January 1967 – 16 January 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
LeaderThe Earl of Longford
Preceded byThe Lord Champion
Succeeded byThe Lord Shepherd
Minister without Portfolio
In office
7 January 1967 – 16 January 1968
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byDouglas Houghton
Succeeded byPatrick Gordon Walker
Minister of State for the Air Force
In office
19 October 1964 – 7 January 1967
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterHarold Wilson
Preceded byHugh Fraser
Succeeded byoffice abolished
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
11 August 1958 – 22 September 1994
Life peerage
Member of Parliament
for Preston South
In office
23 February 1950 – 6 May 1955
Preceded byconstituency established
Succeeded byAlan Green
Member of Parliament
for Preston
In office
31 January 1946 – 3 February 1950
Preceded byJohn William Sunderland
Succeeded byconstituency abolished
Personal details
Born15 July 1911
Died22 September 1994 (aged 83)
Betty Horman
(m. 1938)
Parent(s)Ernest Shackleton
Emily Dorman
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
Military career
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Air Force
Years of service1940–1956
RankWing Commander
Service number83143
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsOfficer of the Order of the British Empire

Edward Arthur Alexander Shackleton, Baron Shackleton, KG, AC, OBE, PC, FRS, FRGS[1] (15 July 1911 – 22 September 1994) was a British geographer, Royal Air Force officer and Labour Party politician.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Wandsworth, London, Shackleton was the younger son of Emily Mary and Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer. Edward Shackleton was educated at Radley College, an independent boarding school for boys in Oxfordshire, followed by Magdalen College, Oxford.[2]

Shackleton arranged the 1932 Oxford University Exploration Club expedition to Sarawak in Borneo organised by Tom Harrisson. During this trip, he made the first ascent of Mount Mulu.

In 1934 Shackleton organised the Oxford University Ellesmere Land Expedition and chose Gordon Noel Humphreys to lead it. Shackleton accompanied the party as assistant surveyor to Humphreys. The expedition was eventually responsible for naming Mount Oxford (after the University of Oxford) and the British Empire Range. On leaving the university, he worked as a Talks Producer for the BBC in Northern Ireland – an experience that turned him away from the Conservatives towards Labour.

Royal Air Force service[edit]

Shackleton served in the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War. On 29 July 1940, he was commissioned into the Administrative and Special Duties Branch, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, as a pilot officer on probation.[3] On 1 March 1941, he was promoted and granted the war substantive rank of flying officer.[4] Following the probationary period, his commission was confirmed on 29 July 1941.[5] He was promoted to flight lieutenant (temporary) on 1 September 1942,[6] and made a war substantive flight lieutenant on 15 February 1944.[7] He was an acting squadron leader by June 1944,[8] and an acting wing commander by June 1945.[9]

In 1944, Shackleton was mentioned in despatches.[8] In the 1945 King's Birthday Honours, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).[9]

Shackleton relinquished his commission on 15 July 1956 and was granted permission to retain the rank of wing commander.[10]

Political life[edit]

Shackleton stood unsuccessfully for Labour at Epsom in the 1945 general election and in the 1945 Bournemouth by-election. In 1946, he was elected for Labour as Member of Parliament for Preston in a by-election. In 1949 he was appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Minister of Supply, George Strauss.

A boundary change divided Preston into two seats, and in 1950 Shackleton was elected as MP for Preston South on a much-reduced majority. The following year, he was promoted to be PPS to Lord President of the Council and Foreign Secretary Herbert Morrison, one of the heavyweight political figures in the post-war government. He was re-elected in 1951.

At the 1955 election, he was defeated. Hugh Gaitskell recommended Shackleton to the Prime Minister, and on 11 August 1958 he was created a life peer by letters patent as Baron Shackleton, of Burley in the County of Southampton.[11] Shackleton delivered his maiden speech in the House of Lords on 11 November 1958, in a debate on a Wages Councils bill, one he thoroughly approved of and welcomed, to increase understanding between unions and management.

In Harold Wilson's government, he served as Minister of Defence for the RAF 1964–67. He was sworn of the Privy Council in 1966 and made Deputy Leader of the House of Lords a year later. As Minister without Portfolio, 1967–1968, and Paymaster General in 1968, he had a seat on the cabinet. During the Aden Emergency he was sent on a Special Mission as British Resident to help with the British withdrawal.

In April 1968, after the budget, Wilson made Shackleton Leader of the House of Lords, succeeding the Earl of Longford.

Shackleton was active in Wilson's proposals for House of Lords reform, designed to reduce the Lords delaying powers from two years to just six months, and he liaised between committees and sub-committees, but in April 1969 Wilson dropped the bill to "concentrate on priorities." Sitting on the committee for Civil Service Reform, Shackleton successfully widened access to entry for scientists.[12][13]

Shackleton remained Leader of the House of Lords until a Conservative government was elected in 1970 and thereafter was Opposition Leader in the Lords.

From 1971, Shackleton was President of the Royal Geographical Society. Lord Shackleton was appointed a Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter in 1974.[14] From 1976 until 1992 he was Chairman of the joint-Political Honours and Scrutiny Committee. Lord Shackleton's report, commissioned by James Callaghan described the economic future of the Falkland Islands, the value of the being British to the islanders, and how their lot could be improved. It included the invaluable role eventually played by HMS Endurance.

Between 1988 and 1989 he chaired the Lords Science and Technology Committee and in 1989 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society under Statute 12, effectively an honorary fellow.[15] He also served as Chairman of the East European Trade Council[16]

In 1990 Shackleton was appointed an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour, "for service to Australian/British relations, particularly through the Britain–Australia Society.[17]

Lord Shackleton was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, in which role he was deeply interested in the development of geography at Southampton.[15] A portrait photograph of Lord Shackleton was unveiled by his daughter Alexandra Shackleton in December 1997 in the university's Shackleton Building, which houses the Departments of Geography and Psychology.[citation needed]

In 1994 he became the Life President of the newly founded James Caird Society, named after the boat in which his explorer father and crew escaped Antarctica (itself, in turn, named for James Key Caird [1837–1916], jute baron and philanthropist). He acted also as patron of the British Schools Exploring Society (B.S.E.S.) from 1962 until his death in Winchester.

Personal life[edit]

In 1938 Shackleton married Betty Homan, and they had two children, Alexandra (born 1940) and Charles (1942-1979).[12]


Coat of arms of Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton
A Poplar Tree proper charged with a Buckle as in the arms
Or on a Fess Gules three Lozengy Buckles tongues palewise of the field, on a Canton of the second a Cross Humettée of the field.
FORTITUDINE VINCIMIS (By Endurance We Conquer)
Order of the Garter (Appointed 23 April 1974)

Lord Shackleton's Garter banner, which hung in St. George's Chapel in Windsor during his lifetime, is now on display in Christ Church Cathedral, Falkland Islands.[18]


  1. ^ Jellicoe, T. E. (1999). "Lord Edward Arthur Alexander Shackleton. 15 July 1911 – 22 September 1994: Elected F.R.S. 1989". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 45: 485. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0032. S2CID 186214379.
  2. ^ Tam Dalyell (24 September 1994). "Obituary: Lord Shackleton". The Independent newspaper. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  3. ^ "No. 34932". The London Gazette (Supplement). 27 August 1940. pp. 5224–5225.
  4. ^ "No. 35241". The London Gazette. 8 August 1941. p. 4581.
  5. ^ "No. 35260". The London Gazette. 29 August 1941. p. 5031.
  6. ^ "No. 35725". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 September 1942. pp. 4260–4261.
  7. ^ "No. 36488". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 April 1944. p. 1945.
  8. ^ a b "No. 36544". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 June 1944. pp. 2613–2618.
  9. ^ a b "No. 37119". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 1945. pp. 2947–2949.
  10. ^ "No. 40902". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 October 1956. p. 5852.
  11. ^ "No. 41473". The London Gazette. 15 August 1958. p. 5077.
  12. ^ a b "Shackleton, Edward Arthur Alexander, Baron Shackleton". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/55707. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ "Lord Shackleton". The Times. 24 September 1994. p. 21.
  14. ^ "No. 46274". The London Gazette. 26 April 1974. p. 5227.
  15. ^ a b George, Jellicoe (1 November 1999). "Lord Edward Arthur Alexander Shackleton. 15 July 1911 – 22 September 1994". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 45: 485–505. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1999.0032. S2CID 186214379.
  16. ^ "My Lords, it is with a certain".
  17. ^ Profile Archived 29 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine, itsanhonour.gov.au; accessed 7 April 2016.
  18. ^ Lord Shackleton's Garter banner Archived 18 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine, stgeorges-windsor.org, June 2015; accessed 7 April 2016.


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Preston
With: Samuel Segal
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Preston South
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Political offices
Preceded by Secretary of State for Air
Office abolished
Preceded by Deputy Leader of the House of Lords
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Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
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Title last held by
George Wigg
Paymaster General
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Preceded by Leader of the House of Lords
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Preceded by Lord Privy Seal
Party political offices
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