William John Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock's brother

Aug 18, 1888
Jan 4, 1943


William was Alfred's older brother. Named after his father, to distinguish between the two, he was called by his two first names - William John.

He was born on 18th August 1888 at 39 Chandos Road, Stratford. We don't know where his sister Ellen Kathleen was born, but we know that Alfred was born elsewhere (Leytonstone).

Compared to previous generation of Hitchcocks (at least 8 siblings), he only had an older sister when he was born and many years later Alfred joined the gang. There is a 4-year difference between William and his older sister and 11-year gap between him and Alfred.


William John and Lilian Farmer became aquinted in one of Hitchcock's family stores, at 395 North End Road, Fulham. Lilian worked there as a cashier while William was helping his uncle John Silvester Hitchcock.

The two got married in 1911 at the St Thomas of Canterbury, Fulham. He was 23 years old at the time, while Lilian was 31 - 8 years older than him.

It is a mystery who was called to serve as witness to the marriage, but Ellen Kathleen and Alfred are the prime suspects. Everyone called his sister Nellie and someone with a letter N. was one of the two witnesses.

Nobody else in the family and close friends had a name starting with that letter and so she is a prime suspect, and if she was one, Alfred could be another.

Given that next to N. Hitchcock is A. Hitchcock, it's probable. But whether that was the case, we will probably never know for sure.

Another mystery is the couple's offspring - nothing is known about whether they had any.


William John not only inherited first name from his father, but also became part of the family business: selling fish. At first, he was helping his uncle, but after marriage he became independent, setting up his own fishmongery and poultery at 239 Old Kent Road.

After his father's death, he took over two family businesses, both on Salmon Lane.

Relationship with Alfred

Very little is known about the relationship between the two brothers.

One possible reason for it is that they didn't have much of a relationship in the first place. Big age difference made it harder for them to find common language. Alfred claimed that he liked him though.

Age incompatibility may have been playing its part as well - Ellen Kathleen was also considerably older than Alfred, but the connection between them was great.

Places of residence

Even though he was born at Chandos Road, a 1891 census just 2 years later reveals him to be registered with his parents and sister at 29 Louise Road, Stratford. Next location was at 517 Leytonstone Road and there Alfred was born.

The third roof over his head was at 395 North End Road. Back then, he was living with his uncle and making his first steps in the family business - the shop was located at the same address.

After marrying Lilian Farmer, the newly wed couple moved to 239 Old Kent Road. They lived there for at least 8 years, but in the 1926 Electorial Register they were noted as living at 395 North End Road - above the shop where they had met.

Another location is 79 Tower Bridge Road, Bermondsey - the pair had moved there in 1930. That house belonged to Alfred - another of William's uncles, after which Alfred Hitchcock was named. He died in 1926 and so the apartment was available for family to occupy.

During World War II, inhabited civilian areas were often targets of strategic bombings, as it was then believed that this kind of offence is more damaging than attacking military targets. It is debatable whether United Kingdom bombings were part of that strategy, but the fact is that bombs were dropped on housing areas during London Blitz.

There are reports that the Tower Bridge Road was its victim, so it's possible that William John and Lilian moved because their house got damaged.

That last location was Winter's Grace in Shamley Green, where William John's mother was living.


Just 4 days after the 1942/1943 New Year's Eve, William John Hitchcock died. The tragedy happened in his home in Guildford, Alfred's brother was 52 years old.

The coroner report informs that his death was caused by “congestive cardiac failure, probably contributed to by the taking of paraldehyde, thus aggravating the cardiac failure and precipitating death".

Digging into Alfred's past, multiple sources suggested suicide. The most prominent of them was Donald Spoto - a man always eager to jump to the worst possible conclusions when it comes to anything Hitchcock-related.

The reality wasn't so black and white and even though suicide was possible, the more probable option was simply addiction.

William John used to drink heavily and on top of that, he was known to mix pills with his habits. Most probably, he has done something he has done many times before, but this time he went over the line and his heart couldn't take it.

Alfred's behavior seemed to point to it unconsciously as well. In "Hitch: The Life And Times And Alfred Hitchcock" - the director's authorized biography, John Russell Taylor (writer) wanted to give information about alcoholism being William John's cause of death, in response to which Alfred asked him to drop it.

Suspecting suicide, straight alcoholism would be the much prettier picture. Defending against it gives slightly more plausability to the already most probable scenario.

It must have been a very tough period for Alfred emotionally, as his mother had passed away mere 6 months before William John did.