William Christopher

Born: William Christopher was born in Stockton in 1735. His parents were John Christopher and Margaret Williamson. William had two sisters and three brothers.

Educated:  Judging by his later career, William must have had a sound basic education.

Married: On 18th April 1765 William Christopher married Ann Tatham of Little Stainton near Stockton. After Ann’s death in 1784 he married Isabella Lindsey.

Family: William and Ann had seven sons and three daughters, but three of the boys and two of the girls died young.

Home: In the 1770s William and Ann lived in a house in the Limehouse district of London. By 1780 they had moved to Stepney Causeway but they still had a residence in Stockton High Street. His daughter said that Captain Christopher lived the last years of his life in Stockton.

Known for: William Christopher became a captain in the Hudson’s Bay Company and amassed a fortune of more than £90,000. In 1761 he proved that Chesterfield Inlet off Hudson’s Bay was not the entrance to the North West Passage, which meant that future expeditions to find the Passage could be directed elsewhere. Captain Christopher commanded the “Sea Horse” from 1770 to 1781 and the “Prince Rupert” in 1782. The plaque in Stockton parish church which asserts that Captain Christopher sailed with Captain Cook is incorrect. Having retired from the sea, Captain Christopher became a shipbuilder in Stockton.

Died: Captain William Christopher died on 2nd November 1797 in Newcastle where he had gone to seek medical help. He was buried at Norton.

Further Information: “The Parochial History and Antiquities of Stockton-upon-Tees” John Brewster (1829)

“William Christopher: Was He and James Cook Friends?” Geoff King (website of the Captain Cook Society)