The 1901 Census records James' surname as Ridgeway although the War Memorial and all records associated with his military service spell it as Ridgway. He was born at Charlesworth, near Mellor, in Derbyshire. By the time of the Census, Jim's family had moved to the Stockport area and he was working as a coal hewer at Bredbury Collieries.
The Census records a total of 12 people with the name of Ridgeway living in that part of the Borough. Thomas Ridgway, who originated from Mellor and was then aged 38, also worked as a coal hewer. This was, almost certainly, Jim's father. His mother was probably Betsy Ridgway, then aged, 37. Several others, almost certainly his brothers and sisters, can be identified from their birth in Mellor - Betsy (12), Lottie (10), Susan (17).
At the time of the Great War, Jim was married. Family history websites note that a James Ridgway married Amelia Dean, at St Paul's Church, Portwood in 1908. This is likely to be the same couple, as they are known to have lived nearby at 295 Newbridge Lane, with their two children.
Jim's service number indicates he enlisted into the army in August or September 1914 and will have gone overseas in the following July.
He was killed during a tour of duty in the front line described here. The War Graves Commission records his date of death as 17 July, but the following letter from his lieutenant suggests he was killed in the early hours of the 18th. "About 4.30am on the 18th, I went with him to visit a forward post in front of our line and, on the way back, a German sniper shot him straight through the head. Every effort was made to save him but to no avail, but he suffered no pain. You may rest assured that his grave will be well cared for. His death was avenged the same night."
A fellow sergeant also wrote to his wife "I only wish I had been there at the time it occurred, for Jim and I have been pals since we left England. The Battalion were having a stiff time in the trenches and it was always Jimmy's first thought to see the boys all right. We carried his body and buried him on the Messines ridge."