William Hesketh was the fourth surviving child of John Hesketh (1750-1815) and his wife Louisa Ann (née Beete). He was born in 1794 in Porto, Portugal, where his father was an exporter of port wine. His mother died in Porto in 1788, but William came to England with the rest of his family in 1807 after the French invaded Portugal.
William Hesketh joined his eldest brother, Robert Hesketh, in São Luis, Maranhão, on the north coast of Brazil in about 1815. Robert had already set up a successful import-export business there, and William joined him, eventually taking over full responsibility for the firm, Heskeths, Wilson, and Co. William Wilson was a close friend of the Heskeths.
In 1817, and again in 1829, Robert Hesketh appointed William Hesketh to deputise for him as Consul in his temporary absence from São Luis. William's work met the approval of the Foreign Office, but he agitated against the severe reduction in salary imposed by the Foreign Office, and was not appointed to the permanent post when Robert was promoted to Rio de Janeiro in 1832.
Heskeths, Wilson, and Co. was put under liquidation in 1838, but William continued in São Luis until his death in 1856. He visited England and Liverpool regularly up to his death, and seems to have had enough money to live comfortably. His 1833 Will states that he had an illegitimate daughter, Thomozia Rosa Coureirão, to whom he left money, but a later codicil announces that she has died. He also left money to the daughter of his partner, William Wilson.
William Hesketh at his home in São Luis offered sanctuary to John Hesketh's family in 1835, and William continued to play a full part in life in the British community in São Luis until his death.
'Our Men in Brazil, The Hesketh Brothers Abroad' by Ian Sargen (ISBN: 9781904244530) was published in November, 2009 by Scotforth Press, and is available at £10.99 from most booksellers.