John William Shackleton 
Location served:
Charing Cross, Chatham  
Years in Practice:
1832 to 1855
Area of Specialization:
Physician and Surgeon  


Dr. John William Shackleton was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England on the 18th of February, 1811.  Dr. Shackleton was the 2nd of at least 8 children born to William Shackleton and the former Mary Ann Simpson. His siblings were: Mary Ann Shackleton, Elizabeth Shackleton, Caroline Shackleton, Frances Bridget Shackleton (she died at the age of 2), Samuel Scarisbrick Shackleton, Sarah Frances Shackleton (she died at the age of 2) and Thomas Simpson Shackleton.

Dr. Shackleton received his education in England, including his medical training.

Dr. Shackleton married Tamar Platts in Hull, England on the 7th of June, 1830. She was the daughter of John Platts. Mrs. Shackleton died on the 20th of January, 1833. There is no record of any children born to them.

In 1834 Dr. Shackleton signed on to work as a ships surgeon on an Arctic whaling ship.  The descendants of Dr. Shackleton are in possession of his diary.  On the 11th of April, 1834, Dr. Shackleton wrote, “I agree with Capt. Dannatt of the (Ship) Sisters to go with him to Davis Strait Fishery; I did not know that I should go until 1/2 past eight in the morning and I was obliged to be ready to leave the pier at 10 a.m. when I got into a boat waiting for me after having shook hands with my cousin Fanny who gave me a blue ribband (sic) and my sisters when we had got half way to the ship which was at anchor in Grimsby Roads – we got behind a schooner and got towed as far as our ship which we reached in time for a dinner.  After dinner I assisted the Capt to set out Tea, sugar etc for the men”.   Dr. Shackleton spent many years on the whaling ship.

Dr. Shackleton immigrated to North America sometime prior to 1843. He married Mary Ann Parr on the 11th of April, 1843, in Exeter, Ontario. Mrs. Shackleton was born on the 23rd of December, 1823 in Spalding, England.  She was the second of 5 children born to Richard Bates Parr and the former Mary Dodson.  Her family immigrated to the United States aboard the ship “Virginia” in 1840 and subsequently migrated to Chatham-Kent.  Her siblings included; Richard Parr, Priscilla Parr, John William Parr (who did not survive childhood) and George Clarence Parr.  Mrs. Shackleton’s father was married twice after the death of her mother, to Arabella Harper and Nancy Ann Vincent.  With his 3rd wife (Nancy Ann Vincent), Mr. Parr had 2 more children, Richard Vincent Parr was born in 1866 and Victoria Vincent Parr was born in 1869.

Dr. Shackleton became Board Certified in Canada.

Dr. and Mrs. Shackleton had a daughter, Mary Ann Shackleton born to them in York, Ontario on the 24th of April, 1844. By 1848, Dr. Shackleton was practicing medicine in Charing Cross, Ontario. The family was living on the 3rd Concession of Harwich Twp., west of Communication Road. Their daughter Elizabeth Caroline Shackleon was born on the 4th of June, 1848. Their son John William Shackleton was born on the 12th of July, 1850 and another son Henry James Shackleton was born on the 2nd of April, 1853.

After the birth of their last child, Dr. Shackleton moved his family and his medical practice to Chatham, Ontario. He purchased the Chatham Arms Hotel, located at 166 King Street and the Shackleton family resided there.

Dr. Shackleton died suddenly on the 29th of April, 1855 while he was tending to a patient in Dover Township. He was buried at Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.

After his death, Mrs. Shackleton ran the Chatham Arms Hotel.  According to the 1861 and 1871 census’, Mrs. Shackleton resided in Chatham.  According to the 1880 U.S. Census, Mrs. Shackleton was living with her daughter Elizabeth and her daughter’s husband John Wood in Monguagon Township (Wayne County), Michigan.  By the 1900 census, Mrs. Shackleton and her family (John and Elizabeth Wood) were residing in Detroit, Michigan.

Mrs. Shackleton died in Detroit on the 7th February, 1908 and she was buried at the Woodmere Cemetery in Detroit.  Her daughter Elizabeth died in 1911 and she was also buried at the Woodmere Cemetery.

*The webmaster is grateful for the assistance provided by Jan Briggs-McGowan.  She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Dr. Shackleton.

**The pencil sketch below, appears in Dr. Shackleton’s diary and it is thought to be a self-portrait of the doctor.