Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton

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The Lord Shackleton

Edward Shackleton.jpg
1969 photograph, by Godfrey Argent
Lord Privy Seal
In office
1 November 1968 – 20 June 1970
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Harold Wilson
Preceded by Fred Peart
Succeeded by The Earl Jellicoe
Leader of the House of Lords
In office
16 January 1968 – 20 June 1970
Preceded by The Earl of Longford
Succeeded by The Earl Jellicoe
Personal details
Born 15 July 1911
Died 22 September 1994 (aged 83)
Spouse(s) Betty Horman (m. 1938)
Children Charles
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of service 1940–56
Rank Wing Commander
Service number 83143
Battles/wars Second World War
Awards Officer 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

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

Shackleton arranged the 1932 Oxford University Exploration Club expedition to Sarawak in Borneo organised by Tom Harrisson. During this trip he was the first to attain the peak 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 the 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 university, he worked as a Talks Producer for the BBC in Northern Ireland – an experience that turned him away from the Conservative Party towards Labour. After wartime service in the RAF, Shackleton was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1945.[3]

Political life

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

A boundary change divided Preston into two seats, and he was elected 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.

In 1955, he was defeated and so Hugh Gaitskell recommended Shackleton to the Prime Minister. He was created a life peer by letters patent as Baron Shackleton, of Burley in the County of Hampshire on 11 August 1958.[4] Lord Shackleton delivered his maiden speech on 11 November in a debate on Wages Councils, a bill he thoroughly approved 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 1968 he had a seat on the cabinet. During the Aden Crisis he was sent on a Special Mission as British Resident to help with the withdrawal.

Typically promoted by Wilson in an April, after the budget, he was made Leader of the House of Lords from 1968–70, and subsequently sat as Opposition Leader in the House of Lords. He was used again on the Wilsonian reforms proposed for the Lords, liaising between committees and sub-committees, designed to reduce the Lords delaying powers from two years to just six months, but the Prime Minister dropped the bill in April 1969 to "concentrate on priorities." Sitting on the committee for Civil Service Reform he successfully widened access to entry for scientists.[5]

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.[6] 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 1988-89 he chaired the Lords Science and Technology Committee, which culminated in 1989 when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society under Statute 12 (effectively an honorary member).[7] He also served as Chairman of the East European Trade Council [8]

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.[9]

Lord Shackleton was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, in which role he was deeply interested in the development of geography at Southampton.[citation needed] A portrait photograph of Lord Shackleton was unveiled by his daughter the Hon. 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 the New Forest aged 83.[10]

Personal life

In 1938, Shackleton married Betty Homan, and they had two children: the Hon. Charles Edward Ernest Shackleton and the Hon. Alexandra Shackleton.


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.[11]


  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.
  2. ^ Tam Dalyell (24 September 1994). "Obituary: Lord Shackleton". The Independent newspaper. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
  3. ^ "No. 37119". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 1945. p. 2949.
  4. ^ "No. 41473". The London Gazette. 15 August 1958. p. 5077.
  5. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 'Shackleton, Edward Arthur Alexander, Baron Shackleton'; The Times, obituary, 'Lord Shackleton,' 24 September 1994.
  6. ^ "No. 46274". The London Gazette. 26 April 1974. p. 5227.
  7. ^ "Library and Archive catalog". Royal Society. Retrieved 7 April 2016. [permanent dead link]
  8. ^ https://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2016-07-07a.2142.0
  9. ^ Profile Archived 4 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., itsanhonour.gov.au; accessed 7 April 2016.
  10. ^ Who's Who and Who was Who, (London, 2018)
  11. ^ Lord Shackleton's Garter banner Archived 18 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine., stgeorges-windsor.org, June 2015; accessed 7 April 2016.


External links

  • University of Southampton website ("Shackleton portrait unveiled in Geography Department")
  • BSES
  • Archive collection of Edward Shackleton collection with bio/history[permanent dead link]
  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Edward Shackleton
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Sunderland
Samuel Segal
Member of Parliament for Preston
With: Samuel Segal
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Preston South
Succeeded by
Alan Green
Political offices
Preceded by
Hugh Charles Fraser
Secretary of State for Air
Office abolished
Preceded by
The Earl of Longford
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Fred Peart
Title last held by
George Wigg
Succeeded by
Judith Hart
Preceded by
The Earl of Longford
Leader of the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Earl Jellicoe
Preceded by
Fred Peart
Lord Privy Seal
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Longford
Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords
Succeeded by
The Lord Shepherd
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Baroness Wootton of Abinger
Senior life peer
Succeeded by
The Lord Shawcross
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