Red-haired Bill was the Ship's Boy of Black Jake's schooner Viper in the story of Peter Duck. His predicament on that ship arouses sympathy and concern among the crew of the Wild Cat and later when he is abandoned at sea by his captain he is welcomed as a member of Wild Cat's crew. Bill is loyal to his new ship and becomes a close sidekick to Mr Duck.
Bill is not as big as John, but a good deal bigger than Roger (PD2). Later they find his feet (like those of Dorothea) are the same size as Peggy's (PD14). At the end Susan asks about the teeth he lost Were they second ones or first ones, Bill? (PD25).
Bill is said by Peter Duck to have been born on the Dogger Bank and born in a trawler, His mother died when he was a baby. His dad was lost in a gale a year or two back ... (PD2) – it is not clear whether this literally means he was born on board a fishing vessel working there at the time.
At the end of Peter Duck, Bill visits Mr Duck's three daughters, who had all married farmers. Bill decides that he likes the one in Beccles best, and settles down there, where he gets a bit of schooling. The other two daughters are Annie at Acle and Rose at Potter Heigham (PD6).
Is Bill Bill?
Bill has the same name as Bill of the Death and Glory.
Red-haired Bill ended up living at Beccles. If he had moved in with Aunt Rose at Potter Heigham he would have been more likely to have at least met his namesake, who, it is recorded, had both parents.