Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton

1969 photograph, by Godfrey Argent.

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

Born in Wandsworth, London, Shackleton was the younger son of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer.


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]

Life and career

Shackleton was a member of 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]

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 1950, he was elected MP for Preston South, re-elected in 1951.

In 1955, he was defeated and was made a life peer as Baron Shackleton, of Burley in the County of Hampshire on 11 August 1958.[4] In Harold Wilson's government, he served as Minister of Defence for the RAF 1964–67, Minister without Portfolio 1967–1968 and Paymaster General 1968. He was Leader of the House of Lords from 1968–70, and subsequently Opposition Leader of the House of 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.[5] 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. In 1989 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society under Statute 12 (effectively an honorary member).[6]

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.[7]

Lord Shackleton was Pro-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, in which role he was deeply interested in the development of geography at Southampton. 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.

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.[8]


  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. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37119. p. 2949. 14 June 1945.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 41473. p. 5077. 15 August 1958.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 46274. p. 5227. 26 April 1974.
  6. "Library and Archive catalog". Royal Society. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  7. Profile, itsanhonour.gov.au; accessed 7 April 2016.
  8. Lord Shackleton's Garter banner, stgeorges-windsor.org, June 2015; accessed 7 April 2016.


  • Hattersley-Smith, Geoffrey. Geographical Names of the Ellesmere Island National Park Reserve and Vicinity. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Arctic Institute of North America, 1998. ISBN 0-919034-96-9.

External links

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