Ernest Shackleton Timeline 1874-1922

Ernest Shackleton

Born – 15th February 1874
Died – 5th January 1922
Father – Henry Shackleton
Mother – Henrietta Letitia Sophia Gavan
Spouse – Emily Dorman (1868 – 1936)
Children – Raymond (1905  – 1960), Cecily (1906 – 1957), Edward (1911 – 1994)
Known to History – Antarctic Explorer


1874 (15th February)
Ernest Shackleton was born in Kilkea, County Kildare,Ireland, to Henry Shackleton and his wife Henrietta nee Gavan. He was the second of the couple’s ten children. At the time of his birth his father was a landowner.
1880 (around)
Ernest began his education. He was privately taught by a governess in the family home.
1880 (during)
Henry Shackleton decided to stop working the land and entered Trinity College, Dublin to study medicine. The family moved with him to Dublin where they lived at 35 Marlborough Road.
1884 (during)
Having completed his training as a doctor, Henry Shackleton and his family moved to Sydenham in South London.
1885 (during)
Ernest attended Fir Lodge Preparatory School in Dulwich.
1887 (during)
Ernest studied at Dulwich College. Although he was not a keen scholar he was placed 5th out of 31 students.
1890 (19th April)
Ernest had decided that further education was not for him and took the decision to go to sea. with his father’s help he gained a berth on the ‘Hoghton Tower’.
1894 (August)
After spending 4 years at sea, Shackleton qualified as second mate. He left the Hoghton Tower and took a position on a Welsh Shire Line steamer.
1896 (during)
Ernest Shackleton qualified as First Mate.
1897 (Summer)
Shackleton met one of his sister’s friends, Emily Dorman.
1898 (April)
Shackleton qualified as a Master Mariner and began working on the Union-Castle Line transporting mail and passengers between Southampton and Cape Town.
1899 (11th October)
Second Boer War
After the outbreak of the Boer War, Shackleton transferred to the troopship ‘Tintagel Castle’.
1900 (March)
Still transporting troops between Great Britain and South Africa, Shackleton met lieutenant Cedric Longstaff. Longstaff’s father was a financial backer of the National Antarctic Expedition. He asked Longstaff to speak to his father regarding taking Shackleton on.
1900 (13th September)
Shackleton applied for a position on the National Antarctic Expedition.
1901 (17th February)
Ernest Shackleton was appointed third officer on the National Antarctic Expedition ship ‘Discovery’.
1901 (June)
Shackleton was commissioned into the Royal Navy as sub lieutenant.
1901 (6th August)
The National Antarctic Expedition, nicknamed the ‘Discovery Expedition’, left the Isle of Wight. The expedition was led by Robert Falcon Scott.
1901 (29th November)
The ‘Discovery Expedition’ reached New Zealand.
1902 (8th January)
The Discovery Expedition reached the Antarctic coast.
1902 (4th February)
Shackleton was a member of a party that made an experimental balloon flight on the Barrier.
1902 (8th February)
The ‘Discovery’ reached McMurdo Sound where it was anchored.
1902 (2nd November)
Robert Scott selected Ernest Shackleton to join him and Wilson in a march south to try to beat the record for the southernmost latitude.
1902 (30th December)
Scott, Shackleton and Wilson reached 82.17 degrees south, however they had lost all their dogs to sickness and all three men suffered the effects of snow blindness, scurvy and frostbite.
1903 (4th February)
Shackleton, Scott and Wilson finally made it back to the ‘Discovery’. Shackleton was very weak after the journey and Robert Scott decided that he should leave Antarctica on the relief ship Morning. Some sources indicate that relations between Shackleton and Scott had broken down which was the real reason for Shackleton being sent home.
1903 (12th June)
Having recovered from illness, Shackleton returned to England.
1904 (11th January)
Shackleton accepted a position as Secretary of the Royal Scottish Geographical society.
1904 (9th April)
Ernest Shackleton married Emily Dorman in London.
1905 (during)
Shackleton bought shares in a company that aimed to make money transporting Russian troops from the Far East back to Russia. The venture was not a financial success.
1905 (2nd February)
A son, Raymond, was born to Ernest Shackleton and his wife Emily.
1906 (during)
A daughter, Cecily, was born to Ernest Shackleton and his wife Emily.
1906 (10th January)
In the General Election, Ernest Shackleton stood as Liberal Unionist Party candidate in Dundee. He was not successful.
1906 (late January)
Shackleton took a position with William Beardmore, a wealthy industrialist. He managed to persuade Beardmore to offer financial support for an expedition to Antarctica.
1907 (February)
Shackleton presented a plan for an expedition to Antarctica to the Royal Geographic society. He wanted to reach both the South Pole and the magnetic South Pole. Once his idea was accepted he had to work hard to raise sufficient money to finance the expedition.
1907 (4th August)
Ernest Shackleton was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order 4th Class.
1907 (7th August)
The ‘Nimrod’ left England bound initially for New Zealand.
1907 (23rd November)
The ‘Nimrod’ reached New Zealand.
1908 (1st January)
Shackleton and his party left New Zealand in the ‘Nimrod’, bound for Antarctica. The ship was initially towed to save coal.
1908 (15th January)
The tow ship returned to New Zealand.
1908 (21st January)
The Nimrod reached the eastern sector of the Great Ice Barrier. Due to the large number of whales in the area they named it the Bay of Whales. However, they were unable to anchor due to the instability of the ice.
1908 (29th January)
Although he had promised Robert Scott that he would not dock at McMurdo Sound, Shackleton had no choice. The Nimrod was stopped by ice about 16 miles north of the spot where Scott’s Discovery had anchored.
1908 (22nd February)
Having unloaded the ship, the ‘Nimrod’ sailed back to New Zealand.
1908 (9th March)
Members of Shackleton’s group successfully climbed Mount Erebus.
1908 (25th September)
Edgeworth David, Alistair Mackay and Douglas Mawson set out to reach magnetic south.
1908 (29th October)
Ernest Shackleton, Eric Marshall, Frank Wild and Jameson Adams set out on their ‘Great Southern Journey’ towards the South Pole.
1909 (9th January)
Shackleton, Marshall, Wild and Adams reached 88 degrees 23 minutes south. With a shortage of food they could not continue and had to return to the ship.
1909 (15th January)
David, Mackay and Mawson reached magnetic south pole and planted a flagpole at the spot.
1909 (5th February)
David, Mackay and Mawson were picked up by the ‘Nimrod’ which had returned as previously arranged.
1909 (4th March)
Shackleton’s party were picked up by the ‘Nimrod’ which had returned as previously arranged.
1909 (10th July)
Shackleton was received by King Edward VII who made him a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
1909 (October)
Ernest Shackleton published ‘Heart of the Antarctic’, an account of his expedition.
1909 (November)
Ernest Shackleton was knighted.
1909 (23rd November)
All members of the ‘Nimrod Expedition’ were awarded silver Polar Medals by the Royal Geographical Society.
1910 (during)
Shackleton made a series of public lectures about his expedition. He was also in great demand for social functions and public appearances.
1910 (July)
Robert Falcon Scott embarked on a new expedition to reach the South Pole. At around the same time, Norwegian Roald Amundsen set off with the same aim.
1910 (September)
Shackleton and his family moved to Sheringham in Norfolk.
1911 (15th July)
A son, Edward Arthur Alexander was born to Ernest Shackleton and his wife Emily at Wandsworth London. He was the youngest of the couple’s three children. Raymond and Cecily had been born earlier.
1911 (16th December)
Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole.
1912 (during)
Shackleton began to plan a continental crossing of Antarctica from the Weddell Sea to McMurdo sound via the South Pole.
1912 (29th March)
Robert Falcon Scott died having failed to reach a supply depot on his return from the South Pole.
1914 (early)
Ernest Shackleton published details of his proposed Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The plan suggested that a party of six men, led by Shackleton, would disembark the Endurance at the Weddell Sea. At the same time the ship ‘Aurora’ would land a supporting party at McMurdo Sound. This second party would leave supplies for Shackleton and his party to pick up in the latter stages of their journey.
1914 (3rd August)
World War One broke out. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, cleared Endurance to proceed to Antarctica.
1914 (8th August)
The Endurance captained by Frank Worsley set sail for Antarctica via Buenos Aires.
1914 (27th September)
Ernest Shackleton left Britain bound for Buenos Aires in Argentina where he would meet the ‘Endurance’.
1914 (5th November)
The ‘Endurance’ reached south Georgia.
1914 (5th December)
The ‘Aurora’ left Hobart, Tasmania bound for the Ross Sea.
1914 (24th December)
The ‘Endurance’ left South Georgia and sailed for the Weddell Sea.
1915 (16th January)
The ‘Aurora’ offloaded coal and oil at Cape Evans before sailing on.
1915 (18th January)
The ‘Endurance’ became trapped in ice in the Weddell Sea.
1915 (24th January)
The ‘Aurora’ became trapped in ice.
1915 (25th January)
Captain Mackintosh took a number of men and set out on foot to try to reach Hut Point.
1915 (24th February)
Shackleton realised that the ‘Endurance’ would be stuck fast in the ice until Spring arrived in September and took the decision to abandon all attempts to break from the ice. The ship’s engines were turned off and ‘Endurance’ became winter quarters for the party.
1915 (12th March)
The ‘Aurora’, having broken free of the ice, reached Discovery Bay where she anchored and the crew unloaded supplies.
1915 (May)
The ‘Aurora’ became trapped in ice and was carried out to sea, stranding those crew that were ashore.
1915 (September)
The ice pack surrounding the ‘Endurance’ began breaking up. However this put extreme pressure on the ship.
1915 (24th October)
Cracks appeared in the hull of the ‘Endurance’ and water began entering the ship.
1915 (27th October)
The ‘Endurance’ had continued to fill with water and Shackleton gave order to abandon the ship.
1915 (21st November)
The ‘Endurance’ sank. Shackleton and his crew were stuck on an ice floe which they hoped would drift towards Paulet Island, 250 miles away where there were supplies.
1916 (early)
Despite several attempts to cross the ice, Shackleton had been unable to reach Paulet Island. He took the decision to transfer to another ice floe.
1916 (12th February)
The ‘Aurora’ escaped its entrapment in ice and set sail for New Zealand.
1916 (17th March)
Shackleton and the crew of ‘Endurance’ were just 60 miles from Paulet Island but they were still unable to reach their much needed supplies.
1916 (9th April)
The ice floe that Ernest Shackleton and his crew were on split in two. Realising they were in danger, Shackleton ordered the men into lifeboats to sail towards land.
1916 (15th April)
The crew and lifeboats of the ‘Endurance’ reached Elephant Island. Although they were now on solid ground, Shackleton knew that their isolated position made the chance of rescue very slim.
1916 (24th April)
Shackleton and five other men – Frank Worsley, McNish, Vincent, Tim McCarthy and Tom Crean – set sail in lifeboat ‘James Caird’ in an attempt to reach land and raise a rescue for the men stranded on Elephant Island. He took supplies for four weeks stating that if they had not reached South Georgia in four weeks then their ship would have been lost.
1916 (8th May)
The ‘James Caird’ came in sigh1t of South Georgia but was prevented from landing due to high winds.
1916 (9th May)
The ‘James Caird’ landed on the southern shore of South Georgia. The Southern shore was uninhabited and so Shackleton, Crean and Worsley began an overland journey to reach the whaling station at Stromness.
1916 (20th May)
Ernest Shackleton, Worsley and Crean finally reached the whaling station at Stromness. Rescue boats were sent out to reach the men stranded on the other side of Elephant Island and South Georgia.
1916 (30th August)
The men stranded on Elephant Island were rescued.
1916 (December)
Ernest Shackleton joined the ‘Aurora’ in New Zealand and then sailed in her to rescue the men stranded in South Georgia.
1917 (May)
Ernest Shackleton returned to England. Although his health was poor he volunteered to help the war effort.
1917 (October)
Shackleton was sent to Argentina to try to persuade Argentina and Chile to enter the war on the side of the allies. Despite his efforts he was unsuccessful.
1918 (April)
Ernest Shackleton returned to England.
1918 (late Spring)
Shackleton joined a voyage to Spitzbergen but was taken ill on the way. He may have had a heart attack.
1918 (22nd July)
Ernest Shackleton was temporarily given the post of Major.
1918 (October)
Shackleton served with the North Russia Expeditionary Force in the Russian Civil War. He was used as an adviser in dealing with arctic conditions.
1919 (March)
Shackleton returned to England.
1919 (June)
Ernest Shackleton was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
1919 (October)
Shackleton was discharged from the British army.
1919 (December)
Ernest Shackleton published ‘South’ an account of the Endurance expedition. He also toured giving lectures of the expedition.
1920 (during)
Ernest Shackleton began planning a new expedition to circumnavigate Antarctica.
1921 (24th September)
Ernest Shackleton left England on board the ‘Quest’ bound initially for Rio de Janeiro.
1921 (late)
Shackleton was taken ill in Rio de Janeiro and had possibly suffered another heart attack. However, he refused all medical treatment.
1922 (4th January)
Ernest Shackleton and his crew reached South Georgia.
1922 (5th January)
Ernest Shackleton suffered a fatal heart attack. At the request of his wife Emily, he was buried in South Georgia.


Published Jan 13, 2020 @ 1:13 pm – Updated – [last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Ernest Shackleton 1874 – 1922 Timeline. Last accessed [date]

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