William Shorey was born in Barbados in 1859. He made his first whaling voyage in 1876. Shorey left Boston on a three year whaling voyage that would bring him to San Francisco. Shorey advanced quickly through the ranks and by 1886 he was the only African American ship captain on the west coast. In 1887, he married Julia Ann Shelton, the daughter of a prominent San Francisco family.
Shorey retired from whaling in 1908. A few years after retiring, he became a special policeman for the Pacific Coast Steamship Company. Always a leader in the community, Shorey hosted a dinner in 1903 at which Booker T. Washington spoke to raise funds for his school in Tuskegee.
After Shorey’s death in 1919, Shorey Street in West Oakland was named for him.