David Shackleton

Sir David James Shackleton CB (21 November 1863 – 1 August 1938) was a cotton worker and trade unionist who became the third Labour Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, following the formation of the Labour Representation Committee. He later became a senior civil servant.

David Shackleton in the mid-1900s
Shackleton (on right) in 1906, with other leading figures in the party

Shackleton was born in Cloughfold near Rawtenstall, Lancashire. He became a cotton worker at the age of nine. He rose through the ranks of the cotton weavers' union and became general secretary of the Textile Factory Workers Association. He was a member of the Darwen Town Council, and member of the Blackburn Chamber of Commerce.

Although the textile workers had not yet joined the LRC, Shackleton was appointed its candidate for the Clitheroe by-election in 1902. Philip Snowden, who had been considered by the Independent Labour Party, withdrew from the race. The Liberals and Conservatives also withdrew, sensing Shackleton's strong lead. He was thus elected unopposed on 1 August 1902.[1][2] The textile workers' unions affiliated to the LRC shortly afterwards. Shackleton served as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party for a period.

Shackleton became chairman of the Trades Union Congress in 1906, maintaining his powerful position in the trade union movement. In 1910, Winston Churchill invited him to join the civil service and Shackleton left Parliament. He quickly rose to the rank of permanent secretary in the new Ministry of Labour and is considered the first man from a working-class background to rise to such a senior position.


  1. ^ "Election intelligence". The Times. No. 36836. London. 2 August 1902. p. 10.
  2. ^ "No. 27461". The London Gazette. 5 August 1902. p. 5037.
  • The Lancashire Giant: David Shackleton, Labour Leader and Civil Servant (2000), Ross M Martin, ISBN 0-85323-934-7

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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Clitheroe
1902Dec 1910
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the Labour Party
Succeeded by
Trade union offices
Preceded by General Secretary of the Darwen Weavers' Association
1894 – 1907
Succeeded by
John Parkington
Preceded by Trades Union Congress representative to the American Federation of Labour
With: John Hodge
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Northern Counties Amalgamated Association of Weavers
1906 – 1910
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Trades Union Congress
1908 and 1909
Succeeded by