William Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock's father

Q4 1862
Dec 12, 1914


William was born in Stratford in Q4 1862 into a family with strong English Catholic roots. His parents were Joseph Hitchcock and Ann Hitchcock. His mother's maiden name was Mahoney.

Alfred's father was part of a very large family by any standards: when he came to life, 3 older brothers and 1 sister awaited him and more followed. It is unclear how many siblings he had exactly, but at least 8 are known. In order of birth, those are: Charles Joseph Hitchcock, Mary Hitchcock, Joseph Hitchcock, Alfred Hitchcock, John Sylvester Hitchcock, Ellen Hitchcock, Emma Mary Hitchcock and Kate Hitchcock.

In September 1887, he married Emma Jane Whelan. Their first son William John was born 1 year later. Four years later (1892), their second child Ellen Kathleen was born and for their last child Alfred, the family waited another 7 years (1899).


A master greengrocer by trade, he inherited that profession from a previous generation of Hitchcocks. His father Joseph and uncles Charles and Alfred made a living by selling fish and at some points in their lives expanded into grocery business, which turned out to be profitable for them.

My father was always away, except for his Sunday morning attendance at church and our visits to the theater. It was only after he died that I realized he was never home, because he was out there working hard for us, his family.
Alfred Hitchcock

Due to family often changing places of residence (see next section), his stores moved with him. Where he lived, he was also selling. One example is Leytonstone - shop was at the ground level while the family lived above it. At the time, they dealt with the market at Covent Garden.

The family business was doing well. According to John Russell Taylor, the writer of Hitchcock's arguably best biography, when the family moved to Leytonstone, William's shop was doing so good that they quickly took over another one on the opposite side of the road.


William Hitchcock was a strict and impulsive man. Even small things could trigger his anger attacks and even in his default frame of mind, he was constantly irritated. On the other hand, the director's father was aware of his tough character and after bursting out, he often reflected back on his behavior.

The combination of the two caused him to be at conflict with himself. Tormented by remorse, he was fighting an inner struggle.

My father never seemed carefree, except at the theater. I think he worried a lot. Selling produce that can spoil in a day must be nerve-wracking.
Alfred Hitchcock

Or at least he did so when there was free time. Unfortunately, he wasn't privileged to have much of it. William was working constantly, he was spending time with his family only when they all went to the church once a week and during an occasional trip to the theater. The first was a longstanding family tradition, the second was his favorite entertainment. The latter could have inspired Alfred to delve into the world of cinema - as means to find a common ground with his father.

The fact that Alfred's father died when the director was still a teenager, combined with little time that the father had for his family, made for a very limited connection between the two. And because young Alfred never even thought about getting into family business when he gets older must have created an extra gap between them. If Hitch would be more interested in it, he would probably start helping with running the shop and thus get to know him better.

Places of residence

William and his wife Emma, just like the rest of the Hitchcocks, lived in London, and in their case it was in the North-East area. Five different addresses are known and all are in that section of the city. Four of them were in close proximity to each other, all in Stratford.

His first known place of residence was at 80 Windmill Lane and there he had plenty of company, being part of 10-people crowd, as confirmed by the 1881 Census. Few months after getting married, the two moved to 39 Chandos Road and there their first child was born.

Being that censuses were made every 10 years at the time in UK, often they are the most precise measure of when and where people lived. And so the next one at 1891 is our indication that the family had moved to 29 Louise Road at some point. In their second common apartment, Emma gave birth to another child, Ellen Kathleen.

The third relocation took place in 1896 and the destination was 517 High Road, Leytonstone, London. Continuing with the tradition, there they also added +1 to the offspring count. It was the most important addition to the family as well, as in 1889, Emma gave birth to Alfred Hitchcock.

The last relocation in William's life took place in 1907 and it was furthest away from their usual area of residence. Being that the first 4 were in such close proximity, Hitchcocks must have liked the area or were just satisfied with how the business went there. Business opportunity is probably what made them move, as they leased 2 fishmongery stores there. The location was Salmon Lane, Limehouse - about halfway between Stratford and the city center.


Alfred's father died in December 1914, the director was just 15 years old at that time. The cause of death was chronic emphysema and kidney disease. William was 52 when he passed away.

He is buried at St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Leytonstone, which is 5 minutes walking distance away from where the family lived when Alfred was born. It is a popular burial place for the family - at least 12 other Hitchcocks are reported to be buried there. Alfred isn't one of them - his wish was to be cremated and then for his ashes to be scattered across the Pacific Ocean.