William Fitzwilliam was born in Manchester, England back in 1774 the illegitimate son of a British naval officer. At 13 he embarked on an adventure which will place him in the history books.
His first job was that of a midshipman aboard the HMS Culloden a journey that led him to a lifelong service in the Royal Navy. Historians describe him as self-willed and boisterous. Commissioned as a lieutenant in 1797 he served on ships at home and in the East Indies. He also served under Nelson on the failed attack on Boulogne.
Between 1797 and 1808 he had many duties including fighting the Dutch however, he was captured and held prisoner for two years. He was released in 1810 and promoted to captain. I’ writing about William Fitzwilliam Owen. He is noted in the history books for his exploration of the west and east African coasts, discovery of the Seaflower Channel off the cost of Sumatra and for surveying the Canadian Great Lakes. All in all, he plotted some 30,000 miles of coastline in great detail which at the time took over 300 carts. Between 1837 and 1842 he conducted the definitive survey of the Bay of Fundy for the Admiralty. Some charts of the area are still based upon his surveys.
He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1841 and Vice Admiral in 1854. He died in 1857 at St. John, New Brunswick. Not bad for someone who apparently had no schooling, just a love of the sea and service to his country.